I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks evaluating our household. I’m sure most of us do that this time of year. For me, this New Year has been especially thought provoking. With a new baby in the house, and the reality that I have FOUR BOYS beginning to sink in, I’ve been pondering a few things that need to change.

I guess it all started a few weeks back when I was having one of those mornings… the baby had been up since dawn and crying every minute that he wasn’t eating. It was 10:00 and no one except the baby had eaten breakfast. I was still in my robe, frantically toting screaming baby through the closet trying to find one thing I could wear that would fit this in-between body I have acquired. The boys were all being fairly patient, knowing better than to step on mama’s toes at a time like this. But leave it to my eight year old to find just the right words to cap off the morning.

Oldest says to me: Have you figured out what is for breakfast yet?

Me (because unfortunately sarcasm is one of my gifts): No, right now I’m trying to figure out how to get dressed!

Eight-year-old chimes in with a laugh: Ha! I figured that out a long time ago!

Me: Well, try doing it while holding a screaming baby.

Eight-year-old: I won’t have to. I’ll be at work.

I fought the temptation to plop the screaming baby in his smug little arms and head out the door. Miraculously I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t even open my mouth. I just secretly began plotting in my mind all the domestic skills these boys would be learning in the coming months.

We’re starting with laundry. Now, our laundry system hasn’t been terrible until lately. Toting all the laundry has been one of that same eight-year-old’s chores for a couple years now. It was his job to take my empty laundry basket upstairs and gather the laundry out of all the hampers and bring it downstairs where I would sort, wash, and fold. Then he takes the basket  full of washed and folded laundry back upstairs and everyone puts their own clothes away.

The problems with that system have been multiplying as quickly as the pile of unmatched socks. One, my boys seem to get dirtier as they get older. The task of sorting their socks is not a pleasant one. Two, somehow despite the fact that all the laundry gets folded neatly and separated into individual piles for individual children, they don’t get put away that way. Someone is always wearing someone else’s clothes. Why am I the only person in the house who knows which clothes belong to whom? Three, the laundry basket that goes upstairs with the clothes in it never seems to come back down. Apparently laundry baskets are fun to play with. Consequently my laundry ends up piled on the floor in my closet rather than in its basket.

With a new baby who needs to eat constantly, I’ve had plenty of time to sit and ponder the laundry issue. Here is what I came up with: Each child now has his own basket, including the baby. They were $5 each at Wal-Mart. I wrote their names on them with Sharpie because I couldn’t find individually colored baskets anywhere. Each child who is old enough to walk is responsible for carrying his own basket downstairs, emptying the pockets of rocks and dead bugs, and unrolling the smelly donut socks, and sorting them into the appropriate piles. For the moment I am still doing the washing and folding (we’ll tackle that one down the road a bit). Then the boys carry their baskets back upstairs full of their own clean, folded laundry to put away.

I was so excited about this that I didn’t even wait until January to start it. We started just before Christmas and it is working great so far. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to me!