When I used to watch my Grandma iron away in her kitchen when I was a kid, she seemed to enjoy the weekly grind with a great deal of ‘elbow juice’, which was her way of demonstrating her worth as a housewife.
Her role then was to bring up the kids, do all the cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing. But even back then it seemed to me that ironing was more of a ritual that took place at a set time or place and once or twice a week, and one she could enjoy as she listened to The Archers or chatted to the Grandkids.
Now, with the fast turnover of clothes, many of which are non-crease and non-iron, it almost seems to be an outmoded pastime, especially in my circle of working Mums. A very close friend of mine discarded her iron as far back as University, proclaiming that it was a sexist activity that should be banned.
Now two marriages and four kids later, she still does not possess an iron, and when a working colleague of her husband’s visited for a weekend from the States and dared to suggest that he needed a shirt ironed, was marched off to the nearby laundry to have it done for him.
I am not that extreme, but do own an iron, and only pull it out when I am in desperate need of an outfit to be decreased which is rare these days.
I never iron sheets or pillowcases and if anyone comes to stay, let them know that they are clean but could be slightly creased, so far having no complaints.
Another friend of mine has recently confessed to revisiting the ironing thing and actually enjoying it. She urged me to have a go and tell her if I really did hate it as much as I imagined, and that she used it as an escape technique where she could de-stress and reflect on the day with a calming effect on her wellbeing.
I agreed to experiment with this newly found form of meditation, and was quite surprised to find out that I actually quite enjoyed the experience. It was not so much the chi energy as the actual satisfaction of seeing previously discarded garments given a new life, and the luxury of sliding into a bed with unusually fresh smelling sheets and pillowcases the same night.
So am I a convert, not really because I have quickly slipped back into my old ways, and my excuse still is ’I have better things to do than slave over a basket full of ironing’.
I am also feeling that housework is fast becoming the new physical workout, and that can include ironing if done properly, especially if you use a steam iron on a hot night! I don’t ever believe it will replace yoga or pilates, but could certainly add to the fitness regime.
So perhaps it could become my secret guilty pleasure, so that instead of doing my daily meditation, I could combine it with ironing and make it the ultimate multi-task. After all, isn’t that what we are famous for?
Sorry my feminist friends.