I Just Solved the Rogue Sock Problem!


Kaia Maeve
3 min readApr 11, 2024
Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

My family’s socks have a problem. They simply won’t stay together in pairs. They all seem to like to go rogue — especially my husband’s and son’s black ones that almost, but don’t quite match.

Perhaps it’s a function of childhood brain waves, but there seem to be discarded socks, hanging out all by their lonesome, all over the place. In the driveway. In the yard. In the living room. Under the couch. In the backseat of my husband’s truck. In the bathroom. On random windowsills. Tucked into the corner of the closet.

I don’t know if my kids take them off one at a time and throw them into the wind? Or maybe the cat moves them? Or maybe there is some other mysterious force of nature at work here. Maybe there’s a giant invisible vortex that eats socks, Tupperware lids, and hair bands — but only one at a time?

The other day I drove to the plant nursery, went in to get some tomatillo starts. When I returned to my car to put the flat in my trunk, there was a single sock hanging just out on my rear bumper.



So it was with great satisfaction that yesterday, I finally solved the problem of sorting socks that inevitably come out of the clean laundry — one at a time.

Because I refuse to be a house elf and spend my time tracking down pairs of socks and figuring out which ones went in who’s drawers, the previous method of dealing with them had been to just throw ALL socks into one giant IKEA bag. Morning ritual for my kids has included the daily question, “do you have your socks, shoes, and water bottles ready?”

This would send them scurrying to the sock bag where it would take them a few minutes each to find a matching pair. They’ve become accustomed to the task.

But yesterday…

I figured it out

I was honestly feeling a little down. I was at the bottom of a big hill looking for a way up, with no path in site, so I decided to just be present with myself and instead of pushing forward to find a solution to my quandaries, I sat and sorted the socks from the pile into matching pairs. The socks that were far too small went in their own cull pile. My kids’ feet have gotten huge, and we still had some tiny socks in the bag. Then the singletons I knew had missing matches hanging out in the Bermuda vortex went back into the old sock bag. The matching pairs got put into a NEW bag, and hung up where the old bag used to go.

The delight at finding paired socks this morning was audible.

“Whoa! Mom, you fixed the socks!!!”

All it took was a two stage process. One bag for singles and a second one for matched pairs. This setup now sits near the entertainment zone, and anyone with a few free minutes can now work the magic.

The takeaway

We often think there are two solutions to thorny problems. Either overextend ourselves to solve them. Or leave them unsolved.

I wasn’t going to overextend. And I was sick of seeing the problem linger. So in the middle ground, which is mostly always the right ground of solution, I found the answer.

A staging process by which I used a tiny bit of ingenuity to add one small step to the process, which could definitely be delegated to the littles. This solution provides large amounts of time saving in the morning routine, with a minimum of effort and infrastructure to create and maintain.

The great sock vortex may not be gone, but at least perhaps she will be a bit calmed by this additional SOP.

And today, I can see a path forward…

The path up the cliff side sometimes shows up in mysterious ways. You don’t always find it by searching and pushing and demanding that it appears.

Sometimes the oblique angle appears. Sometimes, just sitting with what is leads to the future of what may become. Sometimes, you just solve a little problem, and that turns on the light that helps to solve the bigger ones.

Sometimes all it takes is a conveniently paired set of matched socks.

(C) Kaia Tingley April 2024



Kaia Maeve

I teach corporate leaders how to keep their best people happy to come to work by building a healthier company culture.