Honestly, it’s life changing is a regular series where we talk about the weird and wonderful possessions we can’t imagine life without. Think of it as an ode to the mundane, bizarre and, sometimes, wholly unnecessary products in our lives.
There’s one thing they don’t mention at ante-natal classes, and that’s the sock avalanche coming your way. There’s a good reason: it would needlessly terrify parents-to-be at an already intense time.
All the other rubbish bits of raising a child – the nappies, the 3am feeds, the tantrums, the refusal to eat anything but Wotsits – are phases. And phases come to an end. But not socks, socks just get bigger and more confusing.
For a while the socks in my life were out of control. Or, to be more accurate, were controlling me. I have three young children, which means, including me and my wife, we get through ten individual socks per day most of the year – I’ve tried cutting our usage down but the way my kids treat their feet is truly inhumane.
Ignore them for even a short time and you’re staring at your very own dirty sock Everest. The washing part is easy, but it’s drying them when the pain really starts. That’s what used to keep me up at night – nothing ruins an evening more than remembering at 11pm you’ve got a massive wash to hang up and it’s mostly items of clothing smaller than your hand.
I needed help and it came in the form of a laundry product from the sea gods: IKEA’s octopus hanging dryer.
Standard dryers just aren’t cut out for the job. I’ve tried most of them. Tiny socks fall off never to be seen again (don’t talk to me about radiators, once one slides down the back of one of those who knows where it actually goes), big ones fold back on themselves and stay damp for days, and they’re all just taking up valuable towel drying room anyway.
Then it comes to pairing them. I’m not the kind of happy-go-lucky guy who can throw any old socks together if they look vaguely similar. Balling up something that’s pale blue and covered in hotdogs with something that’s darker blue and covered in burgers knocks my universe off its axis.
But that makes the job a horrifically long and tortuous process. Yes, there are highs – finding a match after hours of searching is one of life’s thrills – but mostly it’s lows. Especially when kids hit school age and you’re working various shades of grey.
I feared this was how it would be forever. Then we ordered the octopus and everything changed.
When it arrived I cut off the packaging, its eight legs flopped down and our eyes met (it literally has eyes, pleading eyes that are begging for more of your tiny garments). It wasn’t love at first sight, but I could tell we were going to be good friends. Where on a real octopus there are suckers, this subset of the species has evolved pegs so I can securely attach socks along its tentacles. Those socks aren’t going anywhere now.
If I’m feeling particularly organised I’ll peg pairs next to each other, sometimes even on the same one. When it’s warm outside I simply pick the plastic cephalopod up by its head and hang it on the washing line. I’ve become so attached I considered taking it on our last family holiday. My wife had to gently prise it out of my hands and whisper: “It’s ok, the children will mostly be wearing sandals without socks.”
Admittedly a few socks still get away, some just don’t want to be paired up for life. But I’ve bought another octopus to help deal with those.
There is one thing that bugs me about this pretty much flawless product though: why didn’t they call it a Socktopus?
Buy it now: Pressa Octopus hanging dryer, Ikea, £3
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