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The Art of Letting Go

I like to keep things organized. I find peace when everything has a place and everything is in its place. There aren’t many things I can control in life, but I can control where toys go and how clothes are hung (short shelves first, then long sleeves then by color, white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, gray, black if you are wondering). At the end of the day, no matter how stressful things were, at least I can finish it knowing that everything is in its place in the house.

So you can imagine my reaction when I entered the bedroom that my boys share to discover that one of them had pulled every item of clothing out of their shared dresser. They are only a size apart and about 50% of their wardrobe is the same. The mom in me wanted to make my son put all the clothes away by himself. The organizational side of me knew that a 2-year-old was incapable of neatly folding and putting away two entire wardrobes.

I’d like to say that I sat down with my son and calmly explained that he had made a bad decision. That wasn’t quite my reaction. We’ll leave it at that.

For the next 20 minutes I made him sit on his bed and watch me put away the clothes.

I went to sleep that night in peace knowing that the boys’ clothes were neatly put away.

Only for it to happen the next day.

And the next.

And then my husband went to Africa for 11 days.

So when it happened the 4th time, on top of everything else, I had had enough. I was not going to re-fold the clothes again. My son was going to put the clothes away himself. He was not going to come down for dinner until every piece of clothing was put back into the dresser. And so he did. And he will continue to put the clothes away by himself.

These past few days have been an adjustment period. I hate that when I open the drawer that is supposed to hold pajamas, I find a jumbled pile of jeans, underwear, and pajamas. I hate that my older son grabs a pair of pants from his drawer that are three inches too short because they actually belong to his brother.

I’m trying to look on the bright side. I no longer need to fold their laundry. In theory, I can just shove the clothes into the drawer with the rest of the mess. Who am I kidding? I still fold the laundry. I still put them away in the drawer they belong in. I dream of the day that all the clothes have gone through the laundry cycle and are back into their rightful spots.

I hope that someday my children will value organized and folded dresser drawers. And when they do, I will teach them how to fold and sort their laundry. I will explain why it’s best to hang clothes in rainbow order.

I’m noticing that in parenting, and in life, there are times when I will have to put my preferences aside and allow my kids to decide things for themselves. I’m learning that I need to let go. I need to be okay with things going differently than I want them to. I remind myself that my kids will be better people because of it.


[...] 3. Folding kid laundry. I know what you are thinking.  How is folding kid laundry any different from folding adult laundry?  Oh you lucky dog!  What a treat if you have no idea what I’m talking about.  The thing about folding kid laundry is that one basket takes roughly 4 times as long as a basket of adult laundry. Lately, this bothers me even more because my sons’ dresser drawers are still crammed with unfolded clothes. [...]