Two words: Holy Crap. Or some other options. This Sucks. Dam Mit.
It's that time of year again when our weather switches from Summer Proper to Summer Light and we must make a few tweaks to the clothing situation. With 9 people's crap to keep track of, this is a major undertaking.
First, the bins. Oh yes, the magical clothing bins of wonderful offerings. They must be brought in from the storage pit of chaos, also known to this family as The Garage. The bins are brought in all their dusty glory into my living room. All bins are marked clearly for ages and gender. I love label makes and labeling things and in this particular task, my affinity for office like order is truly helpful.
So the first step in clothing switchout is to ransack through each size we might be needing to see if The Bins have anything to add to any child's wardrobe. I will let it be known right now that my favorite part is NOT that teenage son "forgot" the instruction to leave bins marked "Costume" and "Holiday" out in the garage, and even more not my favorite part is stepping on plastic Christmas balls being thrown around by two small type humans (I think...they sort of resembled a frog and a weird looking unicorn thing by this point, having already torn through the aforementioned costume bin) or arguing about "decorating" the living room with Christmas lights strung across the floor. Now, every child seems to think they are an expert on The Bins and get pretty excited when Mom starts opening them up. Everyone finds something they like, or something they think is beyond hideous, but either way, it ends up on the floor. Not even the laundry room floor, the living room floor. Fun.
On this particular round of Bin Digging, I noticed something absolutely HORRIFYING. There was what appeared to be mice FECES in one of the clothing bins. You know, POOP. MOUSE poop. I was livid. I mean, I know mice exist out here in the country, but come on. INSIDE a plastic storage bin. I look around the bin, kind of frantically thinking, "Oh dear Lord, is there STILL a mouse in this thing?" Survey says no. After lifting each item out like it was toxic waste, I found no living (or dead) rodent, but boy was I pissed. Some little effer had chewed a huge right through the plastic. I had no idea mice did such a thing, and I really didn't want to think about where I had to move this whole huge storage bin operation to now that the pit of chaos (aka garage) was off limits. No way I was going to do this whole Clothing Bin crap if I have to fight mouse turds every year. That's just beyond nasty. So I bleached said bin and put the whole lot of clothes into the wash. And washed twice. And didn't tell the girls about my discovery. Because I'm nice like that (and dude, seriously, preteen girls just love to have one more thing in which to have a dramatic, flipping, arm flailing freakout about. Trust me)
Alright so we dig clothes OUT of the bins that can be worn (and throw out anything butt ugly that I have serious questions about who put them in there in the first place) This is a majorally long "first phase" of a project and it takes a very, very long time because it's a little known fact that a family of 9 produces about that many loads of laundry a day. A day. Seriously, we are trying to figure out who to contact to do appliance testing for Consumer Reports because anything that can happen to an appliance within it's first five years in a Normal House will definitely happen within the first week in This House.
With first phase complete, we now get to do the ultra fun task of "purging drawers." Now one thing I have going for me in all the clothing chaos is that we have the Family Closet. Yep, one big ass laundry room that has dressers for every single person that refuses to acknowledge what a dresser is for. Those who habitually ignore their dresser in favor of the floor find themselves with a set of dresser drawers in my laundry room, labeled with what goes in the drawer (Dang, that label maker is handy!) Usually the girls are quick to sort through what they can't wear/don't want to wear, but the boys? Come on, seriously guys? What do you think the label "K's underwear" means? We did the whole learning to read thing a while back with these guys but apparently "K's underwear" means shirts that can fit, old ratty hat, batteries, a couple Uno cards, and other such random crap. So there's that. And that is not fun. This takes approximately 28 hours of time to accomplish. 1 for us to go through it, all the others for the redos of "Dude, sock drawer...only socks...not more tshirts." And I get it, it seems anal. To them. But when they come to me at eleven o'clock one night and tell me they don't have such and such a color of shirt, it sort of pisses me off that this bit of knowledge could have been easily obtained by checking the freakin drawer marked shirts. It cannot come as a complete surprise that one day you have NO shorts that fit. I need you to work with me here. Nine people have a lot of clothes and the baby we always have hanging around (seriously, we always have a baby) takes up enough of my "keeping everyone in clothes" mission brain space. But I digress.
So the bins are emptied of the good stuff, the drawers are purged of the cast offs and now I have to file all the outgrown but still good stuff back into the bins, in the right size/age bin. This would be easy if every single time a bin was opened, I didn't have a two year old "helping" me by dumping it's entire contents on the floor. I'd say he does this when my back is turned, but that's not true. The kid is fast. He just moves way faster than me and can do crazy things right in front of my eyes, no back turning needed.
Clothes out....clothes in...neat and tidy...and fast and easy right? Not quite. While the first couple steps take a considerable deal of time and effort, the last stage truly sucks. And I could do so much better but I don't. It's called denial. Something I tend to be on a first name basis with.
Now there's the "other stuff." The bags I have of clothes outgrown through the previous six months and all that great stuff I picked up during my mental health holidays (you know, thrift shopping without the kids. This is my getaway. This is when I can actually try to find a pair of jeans in the right size by going through about two-hundred thousand pair hanging on the racks. With kids I get to pair 15 and they've run out of things that interest them to look at and then proceed to make the rest of the time a nightmare. I hate the word bored with a passion. If you know how to knit, there's never an excuse to be bored shopping with mom. Go make a damn sock or something and let me shop. Whew)
The "other stuff" is random in size and gender. It consists of pants that got too short too fast, swimsuits that look really, uhm, immodest and will not be worn one more time and I really don't care if it IS only in the dinky piece of crap plastic pool in our own yard, it's way too much skin, the hunter orange safety cap that's always floating around in people's drawers despite no one going hunting anytime soon...and my thrift finds. Oh wow, just typing that made me feel all Hoarders or something, so I'd like to sure anyone reading this (Ha, look at me, such optimism) that with my OCD need for things to be neat and tidy, there isn't any excessive shopping going on here. We just have a lot of people to keep, you know, from being naked. So on my Mental Health Days (which happen every couple of months) I drive to our local thrift store and I go through every piece of clothing, slowly, and suck in the quiet of the store. The upside is my children have really nice clothes for super cheap (more money for yarn, yo!) and I get to shop without spending a ton of money on something that will most likely be defiled with ketchup, peanut butter, or both. Win, win (ew) But the bags of this crap just hound me. They HOUND me. Since I keep them in the garage, ALL must be washed before going into bins. That's a lot of laundry. A. Lot. Of. Laundry. I'm actually thinking of setting some little area up for me in the laundry room and dubbing it my "office." It's where I do my best work, negotiating mergers (towels with darks? Yeah,we'll give it a whirl), and make executive decisions (skanky dress, whoops it accidentally landed in the trash can instead of the laundry basket) and file (each kid has a basket hanging on the wall, because, well they fold their own laundry and we had to remove baskets from toddler boys reach...just imagine five full baskets of laundry completely emptied on the floor. Or don't. Even that image makes me ill)
When it's all said and done, I have clothes in drawers for kids who wear and abuse them for much less than a whirl around the mall, and some prepartion for any size they decide to grow to overnight. Thankfully my children are not of the picky variety. Since we homeschool, they really aren't concerned at all with what most of their peers have deemed cool or uncool. They do tend to have their own sense of style, which I enjoy immensly. And they ASK to go to the thrift store,which, in my day as an adolescent would have had me reeling about the unfairness of it all.
Clothing Switchout. Two Words: All Done.