As mom's most of us have at least one household chore that we really don't enjoy doing. For some it's laundry and for others it's cleaning bathrooms. Lately since laundry is one of the few household chores that I am not medically restricted from, I have discovered that socks have become one of the most frustrating things to deal with. As a family of seven it often feels like we have a million of these little buggers.
They come off all over the house like shoes typically do and find their way to places I would never imagine they should be. I have found them on the kitchen counter, in the trash, under the couch, in the bathtub and the toilet (thanks to my four year old). Plus that is just the dirty ones. Heaven forbid they actually make it into the hamper where they belong. Once clean I find them in places like stuffed in the kids closet because they didn't want to put their clothes in their dresser, in my diaper bag, because you never know when someone will need a clean pair with a six month old and a potty trainee. They even miraculously find their way inside folded sheets to be discovered the next time we put clean ones on someone's bed. I used to say I was an organized person before I had kids, now I only say I usually find what I need even in the chaos. And I constantly remind myself:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
So it must be organization season this week at my house because I have been working hard to tackle our sock mania and I have come up with a few tricks and tips that I would love to share with you.
1. Turn Them Right Side Out - I find that washing socks left turned inside out more often then not leaves dirt and bits of grass or whatever stuck to my kids socks. So I work at turning them right side out a little at a time. When you pick a pair up to put in the hamper, turn them right side out before tossing them in, when you make the kids who left them pick them up and put them in the laundry remind them to turn them right side out and finally when I am sorting laundry to put in the washer I turn any socks right side out that escaped the process before. I have found this cuts down on the aggravation that builds up while I am folding laundry because I no longer discover still dirty socks that have to be washed again (I used to call these the perpetual dirty sock) and I don't spend a lot of time all at once doing a very tedious task.
2. Dresser Drawer Bins - I measured the inside of my kids dressers and bought some plastic tubs that would fit. They don't need lids because that would make it to much for my kids to deal with. Just about any open basket or bucket that will fit in the drawer will work nicely. I like two per kid for the essentials. Into one goes all those little sock rebels. As long as they are turned right side out and in the correct kids clothes pile I don't even bother to fold them anymore. Which saves me time and countless amounts of aggravation. Into the second bin goes their underwear. Finally in the left over space they keep little things like tights, belts and ties for dress clothes. This plastic bin idea works fantastic with baby clothes too. Since their clothes are smaller I buy smaller bins so more of them fit in the drawer. I keep one for socks, bibs, hats, hair bows, pacificers & clips, and even those newborn hand mittens and booties all separated by a bin since they are so tiny they are impossible to fold anyway.
I am finally mature enough to willingly admit that my mom did know something when I was a kid. I know most teenagers insist that they will never be like their parents when they grow up and often say their parents couldn't possibly understand what they are going through. Fortunately as I have gotten to be an adult I have realized that this is not the case. I know without a doubt that my mother understood all too well the constant struggle with socks raising a houseful of girls. This last tip is directly from her sage wisdom all those years ago when I was young.
3. Mark Your Socks - I mark my kids socks so I can tell them apart easily while sorting. Socks come for a large range of shoe sizes in one bag, and for all of my daughter's lives so far; they have always worn the same size and usually the same style of sock. The first time I bought two of the exact same packages of socks for my girls I knew I had to do exactly what my mom did to my socks. You pick a color of sewing thread that will stand out against the color of the sock and you sew a button stitch onto the corner of a toe seam. This is simply the back and forth stitch used to attach a button to a shirt and it quick and easy to do. Make sure that you pick one side of the seam either left or right for all your socks and stick to it. This way you only have to check one spot on every sock you wash and sort. For those without a sewing machine this could be done by hand with a simple whip stitch but it would definitely take more time. For my girls since their are only 2 of them I only had to mark one set of socks. I know the ones without marks go to the other daughter. And I am now doing this for my boys as well. So THANK YOU MOM for teaching me by example how to tackle socks and all the other sage advise you gave me throughout the years.
"Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion."
Doctrine & Covenants 132:8
It is amazing how much a little bit of order in our socks has simplified my family's life. No longer do I hear "Mom I don't have any clean socks!" except maybe on laundry day. They always know right where they are and they don't disappear in between other folded clothes like shorts and pajamas on their way to the drawer. Plus even though I don't match and fold their socks anymore they never have trouble finding a match themselves. Which means one less thing I am doing for them. YEAH!
The animals in the ark may have come two by two, but the socks in our family go into the bin one by one. My 9 & 10 year old girls have developed a love for wearing mis-match socks. Especially to school. I think this is their way of showing their personality since they have to wear uniforms. And to them the brighter and more colorful the better. So often I have socks in the laundry without their match even being dirty.
The laundry issues with socks escaping to the far reaches of the house may never be completely conquered but at least their stress creation is a little bit lower for this mother and maybe for you as well after reading this. Do you have laundry or clutter tackling tips that you love and work for your family? I would love to hear them in the comments below.