Ironing is excellent for my mental health

Illustration by Polly Crossman

Illustration by Polly Crossman

‘When something needs to be ironed I put it in the ironing basket. If a year goes by and the item is still in the basket I throw the item away. This is a good system since eventually I end up only with clothes that don’t need ironing.’ This was said by author Janet Evanovich. As tickled pink as I am with this quote, I am not a woman who has an affinity with this quote; I am one of those people who loves to iron. Not a lot can beat the calming pleasure I get from ironing my bedsheets.

I was probably 13 or 14 when I realised I loved ironing. Amongst the chaos of my family (there were only 4 of us; how in the world were we always so loud and so uncoordinated?) ironing was one of my very few refuges. I had no money, next to no social life, and only had endless days of education stretching out in front of me. But when I picked up an iron, I would be left alone, be in my own little world, and have everything in my control. With ironing I brought order to a life where I didn’t seem to have any control at all.

This isn’t about me waxing lyrical about the virtues of housework drudgery or saying a woman’s (my) place is in the home. I am a shouty, loud, protesting feminist. My family have never had a cleaner to rely on, someone to quietly clean our detritus. Chores were split between my sister and myself and that was that. They were – and still are – boring, tedious, and necessary. Except for ironing. Getting rid of creases in my blouses, teasing my Mum for wanting me to iron her jeans, thinking about nothing other than the movement of the iron does something similar in my mind. things are a little more smoothed out.

I couldn’t tell you the first thing about the iron I use or the board except the the board is almost as old as me and the iron is slowly edging closer and closer to death. I do not spend money on fancy boards, or board covers, or take my sweet time on every single garment. I do not iron underwear. I do not iron my gym clothes. And as much as my Mum hates it, I also do not iron my jeans (or hers).

Does ironing do something for my soul? Probably not. It calms me, makes me happy, and gives me the chance to watch TV. In University ironing became my lifeline. Looking back I know that things weren’t so bad but back then I was I was so aware I wasn’t having the University experience that I was supposed to be having. But when I was ironing? It didn’t really matter.

Wearing a crease free outfit is something I love every morning. I don’t care about the boring monotony of washing clothes or the mind-numbing tedium of putting things away but ironing I will never tire of. I can fail at everything but I will never fail at this. And in the end it will really be OK.

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