beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

Short Stuff

I had a revelation several years ago while looking at vacation photos.

I don’t have to wear shorts again.  Ever.  In my whole life.

I’m short.  I’m not skinny.  I look terrible in shorts.

They creep up my legs all by themselves and become something of a social hazard.  I mean, shorts don’t have a whole lot of room to creep places, you know?

I did myself and the entire world a favor when I realized that light weight pants and capris and skirts were the wave of my future.

You’re very, very welcome.

I had the same kind of revelation about folding laundry.  It was the same in the sense that I realized I don’t have to do it, and you can’t make me.

It tells you something about my personality that I’m grinning from ear to ear after typing “I don’t have to do it, and you can’t make me.”   Hehehe.

Now, to be clear, I don’t mind doing laundry, as in washing and drying clothes.  I’ve just never been successful at folding laundry or putting it away.  Kind of like I wasn’t ever successful at looking good in shorts.  (Geez, that was a good analogy… it just keeps on giving.)

We used to use the Clean Pile/Dirty Pile system.  In case it’s not already super, duper, extra obvious, that’s the system where you dump all your clean clothes into a pile and then, when they get dirty, you put them into a separate, dirty pile.  When the dirty pile is bigger than the clean pile, it’s time to do a load or five of wash.

I may have used “system” a little loosely.

Now we use a much more advanced system.  I call it the Great Wall of Laundry.

Here’s our laundry room now:

That’s a grid of laundry baskets with our clean clothes dumped in ’em.  Yep, dumped.

Each person gets a “bottoms” basket and a “tops” basket.  We also have baskets for dance clothes, grown-out-of-’em clothes, white socks, colored socks, and kitchen stuff.

Fine.  I admit it.  It’s a glorified Clean Pile.  But glorified is good, right??

Laundry comes out of the dryer and goes straight into the baskets.  Bypass folding.  Bypass dressers.  Bypass aggravation.

Amazing things happen when you just admit stuff.

Admission: I’m never going to look good in shorts.  Conclusion: Never wear them again.

Admission: I’m never going to fold or put away laundry.  Conclusion: Never do it again.

Granted, the new system isn’t without its flaws.  Namely, we didn’t make a large enough grid.  We thought we could still be responsible to fold towels and sheets and put them away in the linen closet.

Yep.  That’s a bona fide Clean Pile right there.

Or, as I like to call it, a Teach Kids How to Fold Stuff and Put It Away Pile.

Do what I say, kids, not what I do.

Isn’t it the dream of every parent that our children will grow up to be better than we are?

Listen closely, Kids.  If you’re very lucky and you obey your Mommy and you eat all your vegetables, someday you can grow up to fold laundry AND wear shorts.

Here’s to dreaming!


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59 responses to “Short Stuff”

  1. I am going to do this… I don’t care how. It will happen. Then when my parent’s come up to visit I won’t have to spend 45 minutes digging the “guest bed” out from under a month of “nah I don’t want to wear this” laundry. AND my kids (3.5 & 2.5 twins) won’t sneak upstairs when I’m not paying attention to play (think jumping in piles of leaves in autumn, but with clothes) in the guest room. you are a genius!

  2. This works so much better than baby #5’s basinette! Now that I think about it, that is so much smaller than the pack n play we used to use… The flaws are the same, the laundry that gets shuffled out through digging crawls defeatedly back into the dirty pile for re-washing.

    Your system has inspired me. I just have to think differently.

  3. How do you dewrinkle things? I LOVE the idea of this system, but on the other hand I’m terrified of showing up at work in wrinkled clothes. Some things can’t be ironed and other things never seem to get the wrinkles out even with a steamer. How do you do it?


  4. I do something similar. I have NO problem washing, drying, AND folding. My problem is putting things away. The kids room’s are upstairs and I just don’t have the time or energy to run up and down multiple times a day. I don’t want to take the time running to 3 different rooms in the morning picking out clothes, or jammies at night. My solution was plastic stackable drawers! I have them lining my wall in the laundry room and now ALL the clothes get folded and put into each persons set of drawers! They use their dresser drawers in their room for their toys, and whatever they want. Makes my life much easier!

    • Some rooms have dressers, but no dressers have clothes. They do have Legos, stuffed animals, last year’s Halloween and/or Easter candy, the missing piece to various puzzles and games, homework, and unidentifiable bits of oddly shaped plastic that probably belonged as part of some toy at one time.

      Everyone has two or three baskets (boys seem to require less volume and have simpler categories for sorting), plus two baskets for “white socks” and “other socks” – everyone just digs to find a pair as needed, which is nominally daily, but I’m pretty sure that is more a guideline than an actual rule.

  5. love, love, LOVE this!!! We’re halfway there, with a laundry basket each sitting there filled with our piles of clean clothes – directly in front of the mountain of clean sheets and towels that recline on the lounge in the rumpus room. I feel convicted every now and then and make everyone put their stuff away (this way I figure my kids will have a better understanding of what their wardrobe is for). Perhaps I’ll have to reclaim the bottom couple of shelves in the laundry from the renovating gear and make it look a bit fancier like yours 😀

  6. What? You mean I could have a couch again instead of a nice soft place for the clean clothes to relax after a long hot turn in the dryer? I’m a bit flamboozled that I could actually acceptably embrace the fact that I HATE folding clothes and even if I do fold them they end up getting stuffed into the dryer to hide them from company (we are not lucky enough to have a laundry room, but rather a laundry closet in the family room) before they ever make it to the dressers. I am seriously going to need to ponder this. And figure out how to convince my husband he needs to custom make yet another set of bookcases. Only this time deep enough to fit laundry baskets, but still be short enough to not be seen over the window, and that the craft room and family room need to be switched so that the resulting laundry basket cases (basket cases hahahahaha) can be useful as a cutting/sewing table as well…….

  7. I just had kid #5, and my eldest recently turned 13, and I’m going to have to say that I have had a _lot_ of different laundry systems over the years! My arch-nemesis is folding as well–by the time I have hauled it downstairs, sorted it by color (and sprayed spots), washed it, dried it, hauled it back up again, and sorted it by individual owners, there is no more _oomf_ left for folding!

    I once had a clean basket system, too: each person had a basket placed in their room for their own stuff that was clean, and they could take things out and wear them directly from their own basket. Mainly these baskets sat on _top_ of our dressers lol!

    Now I have an even _better_ system (I wish I had a wall like yours to do what you did though): We built a new full bath in the basement, near the laundry room, which is now the official Big Kid Bathroom. In the laundry room there is a 2×2 grid of laundry baskets on a wire shelving unit. Each of the 2 shelves has a white basket and a blue basket. The white basket is for light-colored clothes, the blue for darks. The top shelf is for the 13 & 9 year olds (who are roommates), and the lower shelf is for the 11 & 7 year-olds (also roommates). When any given basket gets filled to the top, the older person of that bedroom WASHES and DRIES the load! Cha-ching! Then they take their own clothes upstairs and put them away in their drawers using any method they like (including the jam-it-in-until-it-fits method). I still wash the master bedroom clothing (the only items that get folded into our drawers is the sweaters; everything else is either jammed or hung), as well as the baby clothes and the misc household items, but this is working really well for us.

    The immediately preceding method had been that I asked the kids to _notice_ when they were putting on the last of some item type, carry their their bedroom’s basket(s) down, tell me, then I’d sort by color, wash & dry, then have them bring up the stuff and put away. (Worked _great_ ’cause I was so hugely pregnant!) It was an okay system overall, too, and was a great baby step before making them do it themselves.

    Thanks for your awesome perspectives on life with 5!!!

  8. Laughing my head off. I moved the kids clothes/closet into the laundry room but I still have 3 laundry baskets full of clean clothes. I love this! May have to rething my laundry room organization.

  9. I’m curious what brand/style of shelving units these are. Sauder? Are they just basic ones from Lowe’s or Home Depot? What measurements, if it’s not too much trouble to ask? I tried putting a folding table in my laundry room & using plastic stackable cheap “milk crates,” one for each person, to put their clean, folded laundry in, but we’ve already outgrown that system & maybe I should completely overhaul the system.

    • We had them built in when we built the house. But they aren’t that hard for someone comfortable with a hammer and saw. They are just 3/4″ MDF (otherwise known as particle board) and 1″x2″ trim strips supporting the shelves (you can see these in the picture). You can buy MDF with a rounded edge already, I think, which is what these have to protect fingers as you slide baskets around. More trim strips are nailed to the back wall studs, with the vertical shelf pieces nailed through their sides into the trim strips for horizontal stability.

      These are deeper than most typical pre-built shelf units, to support the depth of an entire laundry basket. I’m not at home to measure, but we just used the dimensions of a laundry basket plus room to make a comfortable fit when we told the builder what we wanted.

      I could go on, but I’ll stop now in case I’ve already overloaded you with this answer!

  10. I loved this!! I am literally laughing out loud. I have six kids and the reason I’m laughing is not just because its funny but because its true 🙂

  11. Okay. I’ve got to know. As far as I can see, there are no names or anything on cubbies nor baskets. How do you know which belongs to whom?

    • that was exactly was I was wondering too! (but I thought it would be a silly question, which it really isn’t of course, so thanks Ann!) I have gone mad with my labelling machine in my house, I labelled EVERYTHING (yes, I do mean everything… the cat and the kids don’t have labels on them yet, but they will, as soon as I find labels that will keep sticking when they become wet, or dirty, or both 😉 ) just so that nobody (aka my MIL who often babysits in our house) can say that they couldn’t find where stuff belonged… Ha! 🙂

  12. Ok Beth, you should know that I have bragged about your laundry system to many others. I always end with saying that I would love to have such a system in my dwelling. One of my favorite things to do when I was living with you guys was to sit on the floor of the laundry room and throw the clean clothes into the appropriate basket. I got really good at it!

    • And you’re SO much better at it than me. I hate it when I try for the sock basket 7 times only to have my sock fall out AGAIN. Of course, if I didn’t overfill every basket, that might help. 🙂


  13. I have to admit that this is my first time to your blog and I think I may be in love. Folding laundry is my nemesis and when I have my kids do it they just shove it where ever they can find a place in their room and I get to wash it again even before it is worn.
    When I was growing up my mom had a similar system, boxes on a shelf. I think if our clothes made it to the dresser we never saw them again.
    Oh I can’t wait for the day that I can have a wall like that. I don’t think it would work very well to do that in our dining room.
    Thanks for sharing. I think I may frequent here more often. I am going to have baby number 5 so I will need lots of advice.

    • Welcome, Julieann! So glad to have you here, and thank you for the kind comment. Sending lots of love right back in your direction.
      Congrats on Baby #5… wow, that’s a lot of kids. 😉

    • Thanks, Kristen! I have to say, I’m shocked about the shorts. You’re tall and thin… you can totally pull off shorts. AND you have tennis legs. You should give shorts another chance, just so people like me can live vicariously through you.


  14. Whoa, whoa. Hold up. Let me make sure I understand; if you admit that you are not good at something, you never have to do it again? Awesome! I want in.

    I admit that I’m bad at cleaning my garage, taking out the trash, dusting, vacuuming, doing the dishes, changing diapers, admitting when I’m wrong (what with so little opportunity to practice, of course), planning for the future, tolerating severe pain, tolerating mild discomfort, gracefully accepting consequences for my actions, and taking general responsibility for my life. There. That should just about cover it.

    Thanks Beth!

    • Jeffy, you CRACK me up.

      I hate to be the bummer of a big sister (Ha! No, I don’t… I’ll crush you like an ant. That’s my job. Aren’t you glad to have me as your big schwester? Yes? I thought so. On to the crushing…), but it’s not stuff you’re not good at that you never have to do again. It’s stuff you’re an abject failure at.

      In my case, I have 25+ years of evidence that I’m a failure at shorts and folding laundry. You were around in the 80’s, so you know I’m a truth-teller.

      Unfortunately, my crushing is at an end. I did such an excellent job raising you that I can think of nothing to put in your abject failure box. (Think Mom will read this? It always make her so cute and angry when I say I raised you. Hehehe.) Ummmm… how about being a player in the NBA? That could go in your box.

      Love you.


  15. I am laughing so HARD. Not at the shorts comment (because I’m livin’ that dream, baby) but your organized laundry pile system. You really need to post that to one of those organizational blogs out there. Not because it’s wrong, but because it’s almost mocking them. I <3 it. And am a little jealous that my laundry room doesn't have room for such a system. It's genius! Think of all the time you save!

    • LOVE it, Sally. Can you tell that I know of no organizational blogs? I DID see your super cool pantry organizing post – very inspirational. But I would never mock you for it because you’re so great. In fact, I should take a few photos of my pantry. It’s not quite the nightmare it was since I removed the rotting potatoes during Aden’s illness last weekend, but it could still win a few messiness contests. 🙂


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