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OK, let’s get one thing clear: that is not what the front panel on our washing machine looks like. But it may as well do.


I’ve taken on-board a lot of tasks since becoming a stay-at-home dad, certain areas are very clearly outlined – by myself I might add – as my domain. Vacuuming – that’s all mine, and I love it. Does that make me sound sad or strange? I don’t care, I love the look of a nice, clean carpet – it generally stays clean for three minutes due to my children somehow generating crumbs even when there is no food in the nearby vicinity; but those three minutes are glorious.


Washing up? That’s all me too. I am master of the dishwasher, I know where all the different crockery, pans, storage tubs go. I even like a nice bit of old-fashioned washing up, just to make sure everything is spick and span. I do get grief for this though, as my partner cannot understand why I would manually wash up when we have a machine to do it. I just like to, isn’t that enough?


Ironing? Another area of expertise for me. I take care of all my own and the kids’ clothing. On the days when all the little items of clothing are dry it can seem like you are ‘at the board’ forever. And just when you think you are at the bottom of the pile another lot will be revealed. I never iron my partners clothes though – this is because the majority of them are composed of a material so man-made that they generally go ‘pfffffft’ and shrivel up on contact with anything hotter than, say, the heat generated by a small mouse breathing out.


You can also ‘treat’ yourself by ironing towels. Towels are so easy, just big oblongs of material, that take no time to do but, and here’s the main thing, a pile of nicely ironed and folded towels always looks great, and like you’ve expended much more effort than you actually have. You know what? I never thought I’d ever type out a sentence like that.


Yet one thing in the household still eludes me: understanding the washing machine. I constantly think that the aforementioned towels – of any shape or size – can be put in with any wash. They are just towels after all. This is incorrect. I additionally think that certain items, say ones that have been worn for years, will be fine in the washing-machine with anything else. This is incorrect. I often think that the pile of clothes in front of the half-full washing machine can also be stuffed inside, as they must simply be waiting to go in there. This is also incorrect.


Then there are these things:



At the last count we had approximately 86 of these scattered around the house. I tried to cull them one week but was told off as they were ‘needed’. Really? how many does one house really need? And why are they all in different colours? and different sizes? I know they go inside the washing machine, but how much liquid do I put in them? And, most crucially, where do they come from? I have never seen one of these in the shopping basket, or attached to any washing powder/liquid, so I must simply assume that my partner bought a pair to breed and they have simply created an army of…these….things… I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY ARE CALLED!


Oh and that brings me onto washing powders/liquids. Non bio..Bio…Powder..liquid…I’m lost. I once tried to buy some, trying to make an independent decision for once. The incorrect box of detergent has been sat in the back of my car for so long that I am going to hold a birthday party for it soon. But on the plus side it did make my car smell nice.


And as if the control panel on the washing machine itself isn’t complicated enough, then there’s the labelling on clothing. It’s like the makers of clothes and the manufacturers of washing machines got together and decided to create a system to drive men insane. Here’s a very accurate description of how my eyes perceive clothes’ labelling, apologies in advance as it does contain swear-words, but I feel it gets my point across better than words alone could:




Look at those symbols, it’s like some hellish form of Hieroglyphics. How do I understand these? Is there a training course? Do I need to go on retreat for two weeks to a special monastery to study the ancient arts of clothes-washing?


Our previous washing-machine broke a month ago, and we had to get a new one. When the delivery guys came to fit it I took one look at this shiny-white baffling contraption and simply stated ‘I hate washing machines’. One of the guys looked at me, instantly understanding ‘They’re not designed for us to use’. I had to agree, and that’s why, in this household anyway, the washing machine will never fall under my jurisdiction.






Please note if any of this comes across in anyway as sexist then I do apologise, that’s not my intent, rather I just wanted to illustrate the fact that it is all just a total mystery to me.