23 March 2020: Lockdown Day -3

It’s Day 62 of corona self-isolation.

Kidding, it’s Monday and still only our first week of staying home, but it feels like longer. And Mondays being Mondays, I start my week with that familiar, uneasy feeling that there’s a possibility that my domestic lady won’t show up for work today.

Except this time, that uneasy feeling is a reality, because she’s on forced corona-leave. And, what’s worse, tomorrow is Tuesday and she won’t be coming either.

We’ll, we’re more than capable of cleaning our own house and can’t risk putting our domestic lady and her entire family (and neighbourhood and then the rest of our town) at risk, when she has to travel to me via two taxis here and two back. 

So, Domestic Lady 2.0 is called in for duty.

I’ve managed to do the light house work over the last few days. Little bit of brooming. (That’s a word, right? It should be. It’s a work-word. A do-word, a noun. I’ll make a great home-school-teacher.) I’ve wiped down counters and sanitised the entire house. I haven’t done mopping. (The mop smells funny. I’ll get to that one when I have more courage. I’m easing myself into this.) I’ve even got a bit side tracked and worked my way into the kids’ toy cupboards. I’ve made them build all their puzzles (under the label of “home-schooling”) in order to locate the missing pieces. I’ve assembled all the car tracks, in order to correctly group the sets (and enjoyed that more than the kids). I’ve filed everything in my inbox (and my sent items), I’ve consolidated all my loose hard drives, I’ve done most of the admin and sorting tasks around the house (some of which have been on the to-do list since 2014)… I’ve painted the back stoep, pumped out the water from under the trampoline, cleaned out the drinking water tanks, declared war on the moles on the front lawn, cleaned the pool (twice)…

So, really, there’s no avoiding the real house work any longer.

I’ve allowed my kids to have a “pyjama day”, every day, for the past week. I figured we’ll have less laundry that way, and I’ve disguised my reason as “enjoying some lazy time”. It backfired terribly, because they had to put on clean pyjamas every night, as they can’t seem to keep their clothes clean, even if they stayed indoors most of the time. So, doubling up on pyjamas, meant that we’re now out of pyjamas.

The time has arrived. I’ll have to tackle the elephant in the room. So, here goes.

I gather the clothes. I’m relieved to find very few items in the laundry baskets. But then I check the bathrooms, the shower floor, around the pool, and even found a few pairs of my 3-year old’s pants stuffed in drawers… Finally got it sorted in two piles – light and dark. Or do whites need to be washed completely separate? And what if a white shirt has a colourful print on it? Is it still considered a white? And do I really need to read the wash care instructions? Surely nobody does that and clothes aren’t manufactured that way anymore?

I take care to unravel all the bundled socks, to close all the zips and velcros, to go through all the pockets. I find nerf gun bullets, till slips, sweet papers (that’s where those went), stones, and something already rotten. Feels a bit like a “guess the surprise” game. Unfortunately my husband’s pockets didn’t contain any money.

I find the shortest cycle on the machine. I struggle to get it going, because I keep on pausing it, instead of starting the cycle. Why would they put the start and pause function on the same button?! I chuckle a little at the thought of what my domestic lady would think of this 3-button machine dumbing me for minutes.

I am surprised at how quickly that went (and at how much can actually fit into the machine if you stuff it properly). But then I get whipped for trying to shortcut. Most of the clothes come out with their stains still visible. Ok, so a longer cycle next time. And maybe stuffed just half full. And also maybe that laundry gadget which replaces the dishwashing soap isn’t so great after all. Should’ve believed my domestic lady when she complained – instead of telling her to just go through the laundry and rub the stains with the bar of sunlight soap. No ways I’m going to hold up each stinking item and look for stains and then get up even closer to rub them. (Mental note to buy laundry soap with the first trip to the shop, when we’re allowing ourselves out of isolation again.)

I put in batch four. The first three will have to go into the cupboards as is, stains and all. They were a trial run. Everyone deserves a practice round(s). With this last laundry batch there aren’t enough lights and darks to make two separate bundles, but I don’t want to wait until tomorrow to fill them up. I need to get this done and dusted. I need to tick it off the list completely today. (I know I’m fooling myself and there’ll be laundry again tomorrow, but at least I’ll feel the satisfaction of a job completed today.) I decide to put both the lights and darks into the machine together. My common sense tells me that if I use a cold wash cycle and if the clothes are old (which they are all) the chances are very little of the colours running. I put a towel between the two “layers”, just in case. Imagine that works. I know it won’t, but it feels safer doing that. And the towel needs to be washed anyway. (Mental note to never be upset when I see that my domestic mixed up the darks and lights. She goes through this struggle daily.)

I take the huge basket of wet clothes from the first batches. Internal struggle. Huge one. Do I hang them up outside (more work, but environmentally friendly way of doing things) or do I pop them in the tumble dryer (huge electricity consumption, but so much easier)? I opt for the dryer. I’m sorry. But I deserve this. I’ll do it only today. Plus, the weather might change. You never know with our weather. And a bird might poop on the clothes outside. The dryer really is the safer option. Turns out my dryer is smaller than my washing machine.


I turn to my safe space – in front of the kettle. While I wait for it to boil, I consider the absolute wasted (but necessary) last two hours. I feel a strong reluctancy to do this over and over and over again until my domestic lady (should really start calling her ‘domestic angel’) comes back. We’ll have to make some adjustments and put some limitations in place on how many items each family member is allowed to wear. From now on kids will have to eat ice cream naked, outside. Spaghetti will be served with bibs. And swimming will have to happen in day clothes, not swimwear or naked. Might even have to consider letting the kids bath in their clothes.