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July 6, 2020

Finding Peace & Joy in Mindfully doing the Laundry with my 4-year-old Son.

*This article was inspired by this post.

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The cool breeze came with an assured hint of rain.

I knew looking at the clouds that it would pour on me in little time.

Rocking back and forth, the hammock was swinging to the gentle blow.

The only sounds coming from my home were of the falling blocks as my four-year-old built his wooden structure, the rustling of my bead curtains, and the buzzing of the refrigerator.

If I listened closely, I could almost hear the grass rustling in the wind, almost feel the breeze tugging at my delicate skin.

I was always an eager learner—yet also, at the same time, I was creating anxiety.

I used to keep buzzing around the house, worrying if the linens on the bed were in order, cooking meals for my children that required constant attention, and picking up clutter  everywhere—even where almost none existed.

I was caught up in being the perfect mom and the good friend. I told engaging stories to my children, relishing my role of a lovely storyteller. I enjoyed building my wonderful little life, laughs, companionship, and shared good times.

I have been the mama to my boys. That means sitting in the balcony and talking endlessly about mostly hilarious outbreaks in their classrooms or the pranks they played on the world around them.

Recently, I introduced my little one to simple household chores. As I strut around the house, I take him along, explaining to him what I am doing.

Among the most interesting tasks that he likes to involve himself in is when—a couple of times a week at least—I grab a bucket full of wet clothes and spread them out into the sunshine.

He hands me one soggy item after another so that I can peg faster. Sometimes this reminds me of my childhood when mom would hook the line with the wired pole and hoist it high into the roof to keep the sheets off the ground.

That pile of washed clothes out of the dryer might look like a scrambled rainbow. So I put my little one to the task of matching all of those socks. Kids are naturally curious and they find this enjoyable.

One of my fondest childhood memories involves my mother and the clothesline that stretched across our huge balcony in Delhi.

In the present times, left to me, the clothes would not have any particular arrangement, even if the sun or wind were positioned differently, but that thought would deprive my little one of direct access to the possibility of dipping his hands in the bucket and feeling merry.

My mom grew up with line-dried clothes. She lived in north Kerala where it was hot and dry. There, like in most small towns at that time, they line-dried the clothes so the cotton sheets and towels got that stiff feeling.

I used to participate for years when I visited my grandmother.

That’s what I love. I noticed that the towels are kind of scratchy when I get them off the line and I love it! I feel like they actually dry instead of just smearing water around.

Now I have the advantage of living in a high-rise floor in Mumbai, with vast open space and no adjacent blocks to cover my view, which means uninterrupted flow of breeze as may happen.

Sometimes, when the sun is dipping and I pull a chair to read beside it, I love watching the clothes flap in the breeze and shine in the sun’s reflection. There’s something soothing about it. Its therapeutic.

I’ve found that spending some time on the porch or in the yard drying clothes whenever I can, whenever I’m peacefully able to, has some gentle advantages.

It was a great self-confidence boost for my son, because he saw that he was really helping me. I was surprised to see how he would happily volunteer each time.

I saw that this was a great opportunity to talk with my boy about the character and importance of the wind and the sun. For example, it is sunny in the mornings on our balcony, so we try to hang the clothes at that time.

Taking the clothes off when they are dry and putting the clothes into the basket is fun too. I would heap my son with clothes and it was a source of laughter and good banter.

As for me, I learnt that I like to feel the gentle breeze brushing across my face and tugging my hair. If I let the wind talk to me, it arrives at its own pace and it goes away after whatever it has to say. It does not come with expectations.

The shifts in the wind’s speed and direction reminds me of all the variations in my moods and challenges. The breeze in my yard tells me how I must honour them.

It guides me to understand that instead of becoming a prisoner to the challenges in my life, I must wait it out with extreme patience and based on the currents, carefully maneuver my life.

I genuinely like hanging out clothes to dry. Most of the time, it’s a few minutes of peace with my thoughts. I am on autopilot mode and mechanically doing something with my hands. While my body is busy doing something rote and routine, my mind is free to wander.

And of course, in the not-so-rare situation that my four-year-old joins me, he hangs the clothes in all sorts of artistic ways (which I often redo when he’s not looking).

He plays an important part in handing me one as needed.

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