Clothes Baskets Can Help You Not Resent Your Children

2015/02/img_1107.jpgI don’t think you’re ready for this belly.

I did a load of laundry today and was struck- again- by how impressed I am by my clothes basket system. We are going on two years now of being dresser-free for the kids. I’m sold. Can I convince anyone else out there that this is a good system for these early years?

The kids each have two baskets. One for their play clothes/church clothes and one for their pjs and underthings. There are a few articles of clothing hung in their closets, but it is pretty minimal- maybe five dresses in the girls’ room and nothing in the boys’ room.

I do laundry according to bedroom, so one day a week I do the boys’ laundry and on another day I do the girls. (The boys share a room and the girls share a room- get it?) Then I put the basket of clean clothes in the room and leave it to the kids to put their clothes away in their baskets. If their clothes start to overflow out of the basket, it’s time to pull a few lesser-loved things out and donate them.

No folding. No delivering clothes to various rooms. No fingers closed in dresser drawers. Pretty minimal work for me. And the kids can collect and bring down their own laundry, so it is one of those chores where they actually pull their own weight.

Child four has her own two little baskets and keeping her clothes to a minimum is great. She has just enough pjs and clothes to last about a week. And- my favorite- I just bagged up a bunch of her three-month clothes and know that she wore the heck out of every article of clothing.* I don’t like realizing I missed the chance to dress her in something awesome because it was at the bottom of a massive pile of clothes I could not keep up with. (My own pet peeve.)

My apologies to all my readers who couldn’t give two hoots about laundry or baskets or kids’ clothes. Or who read about this two years ago and are thinking “blah blah blah this is old news”. This is just what is on my mind today.

*Any local friends want a bag of newborn/0-3 mo clothes? That includes a halo sleep sack that we were gifted from Martha Jefferson when baby three was born. I say “gifted” but let’s be honest I paid a lot of money for that sucker.

Brain Dump

1. Remember the Thomas shirt? Of course you do.

Well, let me introduce the T-Rex shirt.


Move over, Thomas. You just got upstaged big time. T-Rex is first in the rotation now.

2. I started a new chore/behavior/allowance system thingy for the kids. It involves nickels and string and jars and clothespins and I couldn’t possibly explain it or Pinterest would explode with all the pinning. So you’ll just have to imagine it as a one-stop shop for creating perfect children. Teach them hard work! Good attitudes! And fiscal responsibility! All in one fell swoop.

What I like about this system is that it puts certain things on autopilot. Now Saturdays are “chore days” and the two big kids know what they are responsible for. It’s there on the laminated paper and they know if they want to keep their nickels that they will do their chores.

There’s something good about externalizing it so I’m not coming up with a list of chores for them to do every week and then they can aim their ire at me for not letting them play. No. Instead- we have a system! It’s there on the fridge. Don’t look at me, kids- it’s chore day! Says so up there…

I don’t know. It makes sense to me.

3. If you aren’t sure what to do on any given day because either your list is too long or too short, just pick three things. You can probably get three things done. If you don’t know what to put for number three, make it to drink lots of water.

I know this sounds like Jack Handy and you are waiting for a punchline, but I’m serious. Making a list of just three things to do on any given day makes it easier to ignore the things that aren’t as important, but might try to elbow their way in.

playground day with his favorite little buddy from next door

Example: The other day I had all morning with the two littlest kids and not much to do. I got sort of frantic and started creating a mental list of all of the errands I could run with *just the two kids. Then I referred back to my list of three things, and one was “exercise”. So I bailed on all the errands and, instead, wore the baby in a carrier and pushed the Turkey in the stroller around grounds at UVA and to the playground. Exercise- done. The day was much nicer when I kept it simple, and stuck to my three things.

*It is all relative, isn’t it?

4. My friend Amy and I paired our girls up to be pen pals. Chicken got her letter from her pen pal the other day and just grinned and grinned. Her pen pal is “relly glad that we are pean-pows too”. And she hails from “New Grsy”. Lastly, she really likes the “pickcher” that Chicken put on her letter.

I may have enjoyed reading the letter as much as Chicken. First grade spelling is really fun.


5. Whenever I scroll through facebook lately I see one of those videos: “She was bullied all of her life. What she did next amazed me.” or “No one thought he would amount to anything. When I saw what he said about it my jaw dropped.” And I think UGH DRAMA.

Whenever I click on one of them I hate myself a little bit.

Anyone else? Happy Friday!

this picture always makes me laugh. speaking of drama.

So Close

Growing up, my Dad would often pause in conversation and look at me with a smile. I usually knew what was coming.

“Mary Katherine.” [Insert here that- yes- my name is Mary Katherine. I dropped the “Mary” for some reason around early elementary. No one knows why.] “I looked around at alllllll the [preschoolers/second graders/seventh graders/whatever-ages], and you know what?”

“What Dad?” (says the preschool/second grade/seventh grade Mary Katherine)

“You are the neatest one I know.”

I heard this from my Dad my whole life. He looked the whole world over, and I was the neatest kid of that age that he knew.

By the time I got older, I would roll my eyes at him. But usually smile, too.


Now I say that to my kids. I like to play it up sometimes, talking about how I went around the world and looked at all the preschools while Monkey was in Mrs. Bruce’s class that morning. Or went and visited every single first grade class in the city of Charlottesville that day, which was complicated because I had the baby and the little Turkey with me. But- he is the neatest preschooler I know. And she is the best first grader I found, hands down.

The other day we were in the kitchen and Monkey said it back to me:

“Mommy. I went and tried to find the best Mommy and Papa in the whole world.

I couldn’t find them so I chose you.”

Oh, soclose.

photo by the talented Laura Merricks