Monday, April 8, 2013

Summer Clothes In, Winter Clothes Out: A Seasonal Fabric Migration

I originally wrote this 3 years ago. BUT IT NEVER CHANGES. Every season the kids need their clothes swapped out and purged and it kicks my haunches without mercy.

I'm currently, I am deep in bowels of laundry hell. I thought some of you could appreciate what it takes to keep our offspring weather appropriate.

xoxo, Lydia
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Every mommy I know is dealing with piles of crap this week. And in this case, the crap is not actual fecal matter, but rather clothes. Winter clothes. Winter clothes that need to be put away to make room for summer clothes. Because now, although it is a frosty 40 degrees outside when my kids are leaving for school, it's a sweaty and humid 85 degrees when school is over. So whatever I dress them in is wrong and, notwithstanding the fact that I Am Mommy (and therefore all powerful), I still can't control the weather. If I could, the month of February would most certainly not have included 45 inches of snow and several particularly unpleasant trips to Target.

It is now mid-April and I get Thumbelina mad at me in the morning because I won't let her wear a tank top and flip flops to first grade when there is early morning frost on the grass (though it will be rising in a level of steam by the time she gets home). And I have Hawk mad at me because I ask him to get dressed, and he shows up at the breakfast table dressed in sweatpants, a plaid flannel shirt, and a Christmas sweater. 

I tell him it's going to be a warm, sunny day, and he needs to change (at which point Thumbelina starts whining about her need for flip flops and how I just said it was going to be warm and sunny) and Hawk looks confused and says: "But I'm cold now. And also, this sweater is awesome."  He trails off with something about Santa and professionals. . . .  Then they both look at my yoga pants/t-shirt with boob-area stain/clogs combo and figure, what does she know about clothes anyway.  Small people who clearly believe in the Tooth-Fairy and monsters now openly doubt me.  And all by 7:45 a.m.
You know what I know about clothes? That I spend most of my life sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting away clothes. Mostly clothes that I do not wear. Clothes that are not even my clothes. And twice a year, I have to totally manage the migration of everyone else's clothes, and I hate to do that.  I hate to do it for my own clothes, so you can imagine how I feel about the migration of Dora-themed fleece that wouldn't fit on my calf.  That's what I know about clothes.  So suck on that.

And now the time is upon me - the time to switch it all.  To manage the migration of the clothes, National Geographic style.  The seasonal cluster of clothes-sorting seems like it would be an easy matter.  It is always a surprise.  Yes, I am aware that Spring comes every year.  My diminished brain can still count to four.  But seriously, it was winter last week.  Or at least that weird winter/spring hybrid where it's all sunny and breezy and gorgeous when you are standing in full sun.  But then you go near a tree and freeze your ace off. 

It's that time of year when you think Punxatawney Phil has the toughest job in America.  After all, Thumbelina got a sunburn because how the hell was I supposed to remember the sunblock when it was still freezing in the morning?  So last week it was cold, and I thought I had plenty of time.  Now it's hotter than Hades, and I have to run the AC or my geriatric dog will pant his way into cardiac arrest.  So the biannual fabric migration has become urgent, which makes it suck more.  The sweaters are eager to return to Capistrano.

The Big Sort is hard and has many steps. First of all, it requires that you clear your schedule. You need at least ninety uninterrupted minutes per kid to get it done, maybe more.  Second, there are many steps.  Too many to count, so let's move to . . . step three.  For this step to be done effectively, all the laundry in the entire house has to be totally done. Otherwise, you get all the winter clothes sorted, folded, and stored away in their big Rubbermaid bins or vacuum-sealed plastic hoo-haws, and you are all smug and satisfied that it is finally done, when the Laundry Fairy strafes you with a stray freaking turtleneck sweater. 

Then you either have to pull out the carefully constructed tower of Rubbermaid bins to find the right one to store it in, and good luck with that, or pop open the appropriate vacuum-sealed plastic hoo-haw and stuff the turtleneck sweater in there and then re-seal it, re-vacuum it and then re-store it.  Or, like me, you could just throw it away.  Because all that effort is just not worth it for one stupid sweater they may never wear again anyway.

It's all pretty complicated and stupid and annoying.  Because, of course, the laundry in my house is never done.  At any point of the day or night, there is laundry happening somewhere.  I am extremely bad at laundry on a good day (maybe not as bad as Buffy but not much better).  And on the week when things need to get sorted - well, I sink to new depths.

I blame the Laundry Fairy.  That guy is a douche.

Here's how it works at my house.  Everybody gets three piles: (1) Keep for next year, (2) Toss because it's nasty, and (3) Save for the next kid.  That's three piles times three kids and two grown-ups. Fifteen piles.  And if you get started on a pile and then for any reason get stopped, there is no clicking save. Your progress is lost.  For me, the dog may nap on it.  The kids may start jumping on it or going through it piece by piece, arguing that the t-shirt still fits when it clearly doesn't.  That's why you have to get it all done.  Take a lesson from my friend Ellen.  She finished her piles and then she had to stop. To rest.  When she came back, she found that the various piles were (and I am not even kidding) all soaked in cat pee. Oh. Dear. Gawd.


So you know what?  I have to go now.  Because I am foolishly writing this post when I should be working on my fifteen piles. I really hate my piles.  They haunt me.  They make everything suck because I know I should be dealing with them instead of doing other things.  Like sleeping.  Or watching American Idol while drinking a t-box. Or writing this post.  It also occurs to me that my grandmother refers to "piles" as a euphemism for hemorrhoidsHow very fitting.

I will post again when I have dealt with my piles.

xo, Lydia

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37 comments:

  1. You have two choices when faced with an odious chore such as sorting and storing winter clothes -- laugh or cry. Thanks for making us laugh! And where do you find those great pictures? Seriously? Is the guy in the way-too-small green jogging shorts a paid model? Because you couldn't get a more perfect picture if you tried.

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  2. I gotta say, I actually LIKE the seasonal migration for the kids, mainly because I finally get to the point where if I see that dump truck t-shirt ONE MORE FREAKING TIME my head will explode. And everything is just a tad too small, so the winter clothes make them look like refugees, and the summer clothes make them look like little Pirate Hooker wannabees or, well, like the guy above in the green shorts. It is the only cleaning I look forward to!

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  3. Oh my, I was just ranting about this exact problem yesterday to my girlfriend's on one of my forums! I HATE "the seasonal migration" of clothes! It drives me insane and haunts me. And you can get a kid done in 90 minutes?! I only have one kid, and it usually takes me a few days at least! Of course, he's 3 and is usually trying to "help," which can seriously slow down progress!

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  4. I suck at doing laundry. I suck at doing housework, period. I was raised by a woman who always made sure all the housework was done, all the time. It drove me crazy, and I vowed that I wouldn't be like that when I grew up and became a mommy. And I'm not like that, but I am also very concerned about the fact that my home is consistency unorganized, and the laundry rarely gets folded, much less put away.

    Re wardrobe migration, I wish we could move somewhere that has reasonably same temps year-round. Like Barbados. We spent a week there, in a vacation home with a washing machine, hung our laundry on the line (next to the banana trees), and played at the beach while it dried. Same 70-80 degree temps year-round. That would rock.

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  5. Hemorrhoids! (snort) That's funny!
    I used to sort clothes by whether they were presentable for school or not. Presentable got a mark of "S" on the tag. Not presentable got a "P", for playclothes. A few years ago, that all ended, because now EVERYthing looks like crap (teenage boys, ya know), so it's all just one big pile. The only sorting I do now is by looking at my son's floods and saying "Geez, those pants are too short! Throw 'em out! You look like a big dork!" :)

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  6. Lydia, I TOTALLY do the stray turtleneck throw away! I've probably done it way more than I should admit. I am also embarking on the "migration" this weekend. I think I'm gonna need a drink.... ha!

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  7. Totally! A seasonal fabric Migration - how apropos. At my house the other wrench in the wheel are the "back-up" daycare clothes that show up AFTER the process has been completed. They get tossed in the clothes to donate pile by default.

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  8. I dread the seasonal migration because in my house the offspring and animals conspire against it. Every year someone gets the flu, a cat pukes, a dog gets the runs, or a minimum of muddy footprints and pawprints. And its always right in the middle of my carefully organized piles. I might wait until camp this year and schedule vet visits at the same time. And pick up the T-box on the way home.

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  9. I JUST began the seasonal migration this morning, with a single large bin of clothing. Now I'm scared. Too scared. I shall spend my child-free sorting time watching Survivor on-Demand and drinking coffee, like a good mommy should.

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  10. A T-Box is necessary for this task!!! Yikes!

    Also, not sure if you ladies do the whole awrd thing...but I don't care because you are brilliant and I wanted to bestow this upon you anyway.
    http://www.postcardsfromparenthood.com/2010/04/awardsi-haz-em.html

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  11. We currently live in Wyoming, where it routinely snows mid to late April, so we don't really put anything away. I now have teenage boys who wear pretty much the same thing year round so I do not have the annual sorting any more. Thank God! So while I'm drinking my wine tonight I'll lift a glass to all you mommies who are sorting...

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  12. See, if you had listened to Grandmother and not sat on the concrete steps with you cousin, you wouldn't have piles!!!!!

    Oops wrong piles. Aunt Mary has every dress shirt Uncle Richard owns waiting to be ironed. and her spring and summer wear is in a pile 2 feet high on Mark's bed.

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  13. For those of you who like the guy in the green shorts with the banana - that's Terry from Reno 9-1-1. He rocks my socks.
    xo, Lydia

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  14. The nice thing about living in the southeast is that we don't have to do The Great Sort. It definitely gives me more time in my day :)

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  15. I honestly thought I was the only one who agonized over this task and had all the separate piles. My piles include-to donate, to send to relatives, might still be big enough to wear in the fall, toss, pack away in case we're crazy enough to have a 3rd kid. And the laundry fairy always delivers a few extra items. Thanks for the laugh!

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  16. My MIL, thank god, is the worst housekeeper in the country. In fact, she may be the worst housekeeper in both your country AND my country. I treasure her for this. I just LOVE the story of a guest to their house who came through the door for the first time, paused, looked around and said "Ah, I see you, too, suffer from...piles" (they being also of the generation who uses the hemorrhoids/piles terminology). I may be the only mom on this continent who's MIL can come over on the worst, nastiest nightmare housekeeping day of the year, and not a word will pass her lips, nor do I feel that she is judging me - if anything, she's relieved. Yay.

    Regarding the seasonal migration - since I have the totes handy anyway, I just sort the piles into the totes, so I can just lid them if (when) I get interrupted. The kids can't quite get the tops off yet (yay), so it stays 'paused'. It helps that they are see-through totes ;>

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  17. I actually like doing laundry. It's the only chore I don't mind doing. Stick the clothes in the washer and walk away. When they are done, yell at 14 or 12-year old to put in the dryer. Fold while watching T.V. because I can't live with the way anyone else folds, especially towels.

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  18. The worst part is accurately estimating how many you will need for the "hand me down" pile, because if you don't get them before you start, you will be doomed to have a kid decide "Hey, that's my shirt" and the piles will topple, and the 22 hours of missed sleep (you could have slept but didn't because you were sorting stuff when nobody would mess with you piles) will be blatantly obvious when you have to re-sort and re-pile. I forget that bigger clothes take up more space, so yeah, the entire 12 month wardrobe *did* fit with 18 month stuff, but the "well, it fit the tween boy last week" size probably is going to need at least one each for shirts and pants.

    Pass the coffee. I see a pile teetering into its neighbor.

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  19. I just had to repost this today... I have begun my fall clothes migration, and another friend of mine posted on FB that she was "entering her daughter's room to do the same, and if we didn't hear from her by lunch to come save her!" This post is "spit my coffee out" funny! You're right, the migration cannot happen until all the laundry is done, and that is NEVER the CASE! I have to do the same thing when packing for vacation. All clothes must be cleaned and put away, so then I know what I have to work with when packing. ;-) Thanks for the laughs ladies. I look forward to your new posts every morning, and then I waste some more time going thru the archives. ;-)

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  20. I just did this last week! and ya booze is a necessary item. I usually have quite the good buzz by the middle and it becomes fuuunnnn woooo! and then i start spacing at the tv forget what im doing, start mixing up the piles, and say screw it ill get it done tomorrow ;)

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  21. Line that made me LOL: "Or, like me, you could just throw it away. Because all that effort is just not worth it for one stupid sweater they may never wear again anyway."

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  22. My (stay at home)husband asked me, half an hour before bedtime on a Thursday night, if I could get out our daughter's winter clothes and put away the summer dresses. I said "sure, this weekend." He said "Can you just do it right now? I don't have anything for her to wear!" I said "Are you kidding me? I can't do it right now, it's bed time." He got annoyed..."what's the problem? How hard is it?" I started crying. I did get the clothes sorted that weekend (and it took about 2 hours). Now we've been sitting through 2 weeks of Indian summer with our two year old dressed for a blizzard, (or looking like a bag lady) because I can't find the summer clothes that fit right now but won't fit next year.

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  23. I live in Colorado, and have discovered that I can never put either away, they are always out in the drawers because the weather here has no idea what season it is. I experienced a little bit of fall last week but have returned to summer (until the evening when I had to put a jacket on). So at any point in the year I may be telling my daughter "no you can't wear that tank top, there is snow outside", or the opposite, "it is way too hott for your teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle sweater" and she gets mad. I have on occasion let her go to school in her flop-flops in the snow and just packed warmer clothes in her bag so that the teacher can deal with it, getting out the door can be too much work in the mornings.

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  24. I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana where there are t-shirts made up that say: Welcome to Fort Wayne - If you don’t like the weather, wait twenty minutes.

    I just do what my mom did, only take out the very summeriest of summer clothes in fall and the heaviest of winter stuff in spring. Then layer, baby! My daughter (2yrs) wears a tank or short sleeved shirt all the time and i swap out the long sleeved ones over top as they collect food or dirt over the day.

    During the spring, it'll be just taking off the warm one from the morning to play in the sun. Lol. Lazy. But efficient. And then as she grows out of things when they come out of the laundry, i just throw that item in the bag next to the dryer to vacuum seal later.

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  25. OMG! I just took a break from my piles to find this post! Snort. I at least save a small portion of the time by only purchasing things that my husband and I can wear year round (think black, brown, and grey). Sure, we look dingy and tired, but I am dingy and tired, so why try to fight it? I just add a black sweater to my shirts in the winter (and frankly also at the ridiculously air conditioned office). But the kids clothes are a never ending trial of my sanity...

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  26. I live in northern Indiana, where weather is bi-polar. Last week I had to get out WINTER coats, and today it was 70. Seriously! I did the big piles two weeks ago unfortunately!

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  27. My mother seriously asked me why I had yet to put eldest daughter's old Halloween sweater from 3 years ago on youngest daughter. Are you seriously kidding me right now? It was 27 degrees 3 days ago and 80 today. You want me to find one random sweater from years past in the hot mess that is 3 kids multi-seasonal clothing. The only hope is that the thing is bright day-glo orange.

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  28. IT WAS YOU! I was furiously trying to find who shared my feelings about clothing and called it something like a migration or something. Shame on the internets for not sending me directly to your blog. You'd think as much as I am on here those internets would know me by now! Sheesh!

    Four containers of clothes down for the four year old, four containers down for me. We still have the eight year old to go. THIS is birth control, right here. No more kids=an unreasonable amount of clothing to change around each season. Having another would surely cause a rip in the space/clothing continuum!

    Now peace out, I have to go dive back in!

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  29. We get boxes and boxes of hand-me-downs, which is awesome, but it makes the sorting even more of a chore. Also, we give boxes and boxes of hand-me-downs, which is awesome, but it makes the sorting even more of a chore.

    My sister-in-law called last week asking if the kids were all set for summer clothes. How am I supposed to answer that question when we are still wearing winter coats?

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  30. We're getting close to putting away the winter stuff here in CT too, but I also have a baby due in May so I have to get out the tiny clothes that have been stored for 3 years (luckily this is boy #3 so I don't have to sort by gender!) and wash them all. We also store the clothes in rubbermaids in an attic space that has no climate control. So I can't go in there too early, because its freezing, but wait too long and its way too hot. Today might be the day. Thanks for the kick in the butt! lol

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  31. Move to South Florida. My kids wear winter pants and coats approx one month out of the year (and in clumps... two days here, three days there, and it's hot as hades in-between!) They are in shorts, tshirts, and crocs/sneakers 95% of the year. My biggest problem this year was that my 5 year old grew about 6 inches since last winter and all of his pants looked like capris. OOPS.

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  32. I love this post! I DREAD the clothes change-over for 3 children (and me)! DREAD IT! Laundry UP THE YING_YANG (as if that wasn't the case every day). Luckily, we only have two seasons here and warm doesn't hit until June. So, I'm going to sit back for another 6 weeks and enjoy bundling them up every morning.

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  33. This is even more funny, now that I know the British word for hemorrhoids is piles. You should just call them your seasonal clothing hemorrhoids.

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  34. I just finished shopping for new summer clothes, mostly for my kids, at Burlitgon. I bought some really great outfits, and I love the sundresses they have there. We saved about $100 on our little shopping trip.

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