Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WFMW: The Sock Solution

Socks- the bane of my winter existence. Beginning in the fall, with the reappearance of tennis shoes and finally ending in that glorious day when we can buy new sandals at Walmart, socks in my house are a never-ending problem. With five children and two adults in our household, we wear approximately 98 socks a week- and that's assuming only pair a day! I find socks everywhere- under the couch, under the beds, stuffed behind the toilet in the bathroom, even abandoned in the back yard. I have resorted to becoming the sock sheriff, hunting down the hapless owners of these socks with a gusto that would make Sherlock Holmes proud. But wadded socks still appear under my couch. What's a mom to do?

Start Over.

My husband told me this for years. Being an engineer, he tends to prefer things well-ordered. Unfortunately, with five children, there is very little around him that is well-ordered... except his sock drawer. The house could be falling down around our ears, but he could lay hands on a matching pair of socks within 2 seconds. Here's his method: all socks look alike. He does not have tan socks, blue socks, brown socks, and designer striped socks. My well-ordered sock-man has black socks to wear with his dress pants and one style of white athletic socks to wear with his tennis shoes. And he can always find a match.

For years, he told me to do this to the kids, to throw out their old socks and give them one style. I just couldn't do it. The thrifty side of me could not bear the thought of throwing out perfectly good socks and spending money on new ones. I loved the little red socks with the airplanes on them, and the pink and purple striped socks that matched my daughter's hair bow. Instead, I had big Matching Parties every laundry cycle, where I would spread socks all over the living room and see which ones had mates that had finally turned up again. But one day... I had enough!

I went through the entire house and gathered every loose sock I could find. I matched them and sorted them into little baggies for the next yard sale and consignment sale- and surprisingly, made a nice little sum on socks alone! And then I started over. I went to Walmart and purchased different socks for each child- plain white for John Mark, white with gray heels for Philip, white with blue heels for Nathanael, white with pink heels for Becca, and so on. Over the years, I simplified my method even more: if you have kids who wear the same sock size, let them share socks! Just buy more of them. Girls can wear boys socks too- with shoes on, you can't tell if the heels are pink or gray.

Some of you fashionistas are shaking your head in horror at the thought of getting rid of dozens of cute socks. If your children wear perfectly matched socks with each of their perfectly matched outfits every day... well, you probably stopped reading before now. But here are the benefits of the one-sock method:

1) you can always find a mate

2) have a sock with a hole, or one that turned brown after the last Boy Scout campout? Throw it away- you have lots of others.

We have one large sock basket that I throw these socks into, and the sock basket is no longer a nightmare. The kids can easily lay hands on a matching pair of socks in their size. I have plain dress socks for them too, so they have black socks to wear to church.

And there it is... the sock solution. It works for me!

For more Works For Me Wednesdays, go to Rocks in My Dryer


Lisa S. said...

Great idea. Where do you keep the sock basket?

Karen said...

We've done this as well (the starting over part), but we're still losing socks like crazy. If the boys would just do something other than throw their socks around the house when they take them off...

Jan said...

I've been doing this ever since our first child was past the age of booties. My husband love not having to dig for the mate to a sock, I love the saved time, and all my gold toe socks are the same style--either black or white, depending on whether they are to go with sneakers and boots, or dressier pants. Great idea!

Qtpies7 said...

My older boys and my husband all wear the same size socks! When they started sneaking into our room and stealing his socks (instead of putting theirs in the laundry) I decided that we only needed a sock box and everyone just grabs out of there. My oldest dd and I even where the guys' socks! The younger kids have different socks. You do run out of styles when you have 9 people in socks, lol.

Roswell Card Lady said...

Good post. I've tried variations on this for years and years . . . but have you ever noticed that one basic white sock style can have about 8 different looks to it? They stretch differently, they get dirty at different rates, they don't get toenail holes at the same rate? It is STILL really hard to find matching pairs when you eed them (like picture day and your son is wearing shorts to school). There's only one ultimate solution, and it's bittersweet - wait till they go off to college!

Proverbs31 said...

You make me laugh!!

We do something similar, too. Princess' socks are white with purple toes, Drama Queens are white with pink toes, and Baby Boy's are white with grey toes. Big Daddy only has one kind of sock, too. His socks have been that way for years, the kids have been that way for the last two.

Not only does it save time in the mornings, but it makes it easier when washing laundry to notice that somebody is missing a lot of socks and to then go hunt them down. It also means I don't have to fold them together and stretch out the cuffs. That drives me crazy. The kids have a small basket in their dresser and all their socks get laid in there so there is no stretching. When they need some, they just grab two.

Have a great week!