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Off With Their Socks!

Sometimes it seems I go out of my way to make parenting and domesticity more complicated than it ever has to be. It happens slowly, this convolution of my motherly and homakerly duties. Sometimes I don't even notice its happening until its spiraled out of control. A good example of this is the abyss that is Wanda's sock drawer.

Wanda's sock drawer has been 7 years in the making. It started when Laylee was in utero and everywhere I went cute little baby socks would scream, "BUY ME! FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING HOLY! THERE'S A LITTLE SHEEP ON THE SIDE OF MY CUFF!" I would of course buy the screaming sheep socks in several different colors and sizes. It was easy to corral them because I kept them in their packages until her feet had outgrown the last size of socks, move the small ones to the "next baby" box and graduate to the larger size. Over the months of her babyhood we were gifted socks, new and hand-me-down, all in different Baby Colors.

The problem with Baby Colors is that they're all basically white with just a slight tint of color that looks like they may have accidentally gone through with the dark load in the washer turning them "Baby Blue," "Baby Pink," "Baby Yellow," "Baby Beige," "Baby Ecru," "Baby Cream," or "Baby Off-White." I believe some of them were dyed those colors at the factory by a cruel cackling woman who wanted to make mothers suffer for bringing these little germ spreaders into the world. I'm sure some of the socks actually went through the wash with a pair of jeans or a Christmas table cloth. It's really hard to tell the difference.

And it's really hard to tell the difference between the socks themselves. I recycled all but the pink socks for Magoo because I am cheap and yet steeped in the antiquated tradition of certain colors being for specific genders. The socks were a pain with Magoo and when I got to the point that I couldn't find an actual match, I'd buy a few more ambiguously hued socks and add them to the pile.

Wanda inherited the whole mess in a bag with no size differentiation.

I found that I spent the first several months of her life carefully matching the socks after each washing, holding them up to the light, analyzing color, weave, texture, cuff, stretchiness, length and width. I was playing laundry Cupid, finding each little socky its one true and perfect sole-mate. The saying is true in our house. There is only one perfect match for everyone.

And now I am done.

For the cost of $10 and a trip to Target I have redeemed myself from laundry hell by purchasing 10 pairs of identical white socks in Wanda's size and getting rid of all but a few VERY distinctive special occasion pairs. I can't believe it took me 6 months to get to this point but it feels wonderful.

Another thing I've done to make my life easier is move all the kid dishes to low drawers where Laylee and Magoo can reach them. That way when they want a snack or when I ask them to set the table for dinner, they can get what they need without any intervention from me.

The last simplification tip I'll share today involves the female wardrobe. Laylee has always had an eye for fashion, strange bizarre and mismatched fashion. If two items clash, mismatch or look completely hideous together, she will look for an opportunity to pair them. I think it's important developmentally for kids to dress themselves and choose what they wear once they're old enough to express a preference.

But after two years of watching Laylee head out to preschool and kindergarten looking like a What Not to Wear vagabond nightmare, I decided I'd had enough. I started to wonder why Magoo, a total Neanderthal was able to put together a decent outfit every day when it completely escaped Laylee's abilities. "It's the pants!" I suddenly realized. The nature of boys' clothes is that the bottoms are nearly all neutral colors with no stripes or other patterns.

So when we went back-to-school shopping this year Laylee got jeans, khakis and stretch pants in navy, brown and black. We went wild with her shirt choices, whatever crazy color or design she wanted. I cannot tell you how much less she looks like a person who chooses her clothing from random dumpsters. It's quite remarkable. The key? Simplification.

What ideas do you have for taking small steps to simplify your parenting life?

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