All of us are probably too familiar with the never-ending chore known as "laundry." In our house, we tackle "Mount Foldmore" somewhat like this:
1. We have hampers for dirty laundry in strategic spots around the house, that get emptied and sorted at least daily into the hampers in the laundry room. (Solomon or Isaac can sort, all the younger kids make sure dirty laundry gets put in hampers.)
2. In the laundry room, as soon as one washer load is ready to be run, we run it. (Solomon or Isaac)
3. Once the laundry is washed and dried, it gets sorted into baskets of clean "foldables", "hangables", and "socks". (John or Miriam)
4. John and younger fold and put away all the "foldables". Isaac and Solomon hang up and put away all the "hangables". This happens almost daily. With an average of three loads a day, that really is the longest we can go, or our clean hampers will start piling high. Once a week on Saturdays, I try to get every last piece of laundry washed and put away, as a sort of "reset" button.
All this is done in the office (next to our laundry room), and taken to each room once everything is hung/folded. While they work, the kids enjoy listening to audio books, or occasionally watching something educational on the computer if there is a lot of work to do.
Only 13 years into marriage, thanks to having lots of little helpers, I can say we have the laundry monster mostly tamed. (Of course now that I said this, some major mess will happen and put me behind, like kids throwing up all over their bedding.) But, the one aspect that has continued to be a major thorn in my side is SOCKS. Every mother would agree, I know!!!!
Let's do some math. We have 9 people that each wear socks, every day. 9 pairs per day, or 18 socks. In a week, that makes for 126 socks. But that would be in a perfect world. In reality, most of my kids go through TWO pairs of socks each per day, either because they take off the first pair and lose it, get it dirty, decide they need to change styles in the afternoon, etc. Realistically, we go through about 15 pairs of socks per day, or 210 individual socks per week.
That's over 200 socks that have to make it from the kids' feet, to the hampers, through the washer and dryer, into the sock basket, and then be paired up. The possibilities of what can go wrong are endless. For every 10 pairs we wear, we probably get 5 out after the wash, and the rest are "singles" for a season until we clean out under beds, between the washer and dryer, in shoe cubbies, etc. Frustrating? YES! For every dozen socks we own, we probably average two complete pairs.
I have tried to come up with different ways of keeping socks together during the laundering process, which would eliminate the need to try and find pairs. For a while, we tried safety pins. It worked ok, but there were several problems: my younger kids needed help with them, the bag of pins would get left out and spilled, open pins would be left lying around, the pins corroded in the wash over time, it was hard to get everyone in a habit of "pinning" their socks, etc.
Then, some months back, I found a "basting gun" at Jo-Anns in the quilting section. It is a very simple device, similar to a price gun for affixing price tags. This seemed like a better, easier, quicker, and more interesting way of pinning socks with their mate before throwing them in the laundry. Initially, the kids were so excited they were motivated to pin their own socks, as soon as they came off their feet.
When the excitement wore off, I told everyone to fold their dirty socks together before throwing them in the dirty hamper. While they can't go through the wash folded, it does make it easier, because at least the socks can still be kept together in an instant, no tools required. Then, when the hampers get emptied and sorted into the laundry room hampers each night, whoever is doing the sorting will unfold the socks, baste them together, and then put them in whatever dirty hamper they belong in.
Once the socks some out of the wash, we toss them, still connected, into the "single socks" hamper. When one of us sits down on Saturday to match socks, it's as easy as picking connected pairs out of the basket, removing the little plastic (easy enough to be done by hand), folding the socks into a pair, and tossing them into the "paired socks" hamper, ready to be sorted into each child's sock drawer.
This system is not foolproof - socks still disappear because our little kids have a tendency to leave their laundry wherever they happen to pull it off. BUT it has been a MAJOR improvement in conquering the sock matching challenge. Several months into it, my older boys (who do the laundry sorting) still think it's fun to use the basting gun, which is permanently stored in the laundry room.
Some tips for using the basting gun:
- I would NOT recommend this for basting a quilt. But it does great with socks!
- I highly recommend using a 50% off coupon if you are going to buy one.
- Keep it out of the reach of little kids. The tip is very pointy and sharp.
- It's a little tricky to learn how to "baste" together two items on the first try, every time. But if you follow the instructions and make sure the layers of fabric are flush against the gun, it works like a charm.
- When removing the plastic "pins", work over a small trash can so you don't end up with little red plastic pieces everywhere.
- Socks seem to fare better when they are pinned in such a way that ends of the pin are on the outside of the fabric, rather than the inside (where they are more likely to get caught on the elastic).
How do YOU tackle the laundry / sock monster?