The Scourge of Children’s Clothing
Dealing with the children’s clothing is the bane of my existence. It’s not just the laundry – it’s the sorting and swapping of sizes each season or growth spurt. However, each year I get better and better at knowing how to deal with it…. I hope.
I used to be one of those people who kept every article of clothing given to me. I figured we’d use it somewhere down the line, it was free, and I knew we didn’t have the money to go buying clothes for the kids all of the time.
The first problem we ran into was storage. We had closets filled with cardboard boxes of clothing. Eventually it got to the point where they were falling out of the closet.
A Sizing Issue
I don’t know about your kids, but mine are usually in at least two sizes of clothing at any given moment. Then their sizes change when you least expect it, so digging into the mess of the closets to find more clothing that fit just created more of a mess. Then there were instances where we ended up going and buying something that we ended up having but couldn’t find when we needed it. Yes, the boxes were even labeled.
Learning to Say “No”
Eventually, I learned that it was okay to purge and to say “no” to incoming clothing that you knew you had enough of. The first time I completed a large purge of the clothing, it felt amazing! I wasn’t afraid to open the closet door, and it became a little easier to find what I needed.
Purging clothes is an ongoing process. There are clothes coming in, and clothes that have seen better days and need to go out. For each size I’m going through, I try to keep that kid and the next kid who will use it in consideration.
- Start with 7 play outfits. (1b. When my kids were in school, I also tried to have 5 nicer school outfits.)
- Put together 2 nice church outfits.
- Have 1 really nice outfit available.
Next I customize to the kid. Thinking on their clothing habits and challenges helps me come up with questions to ask myself.
- Does this child usually go through more than 1 outfit a day?
- Does this child wear holes in their pants quickly?
- Does this child tend to destroy shirts?
If I answer yes to any of the above questions, then I will hold onto more pants and/or shirts.
Young Children and Babies
Really young children and babies are the hardest and easiest to purge. They’re the hardest because everything is just so tiny and cute, and you just want to keep it all! It’s the easiest because they don’t usually tend to destroy clothing as quickly. Yes, blow-outs and spit-ups do destroy clothes, so keeping up to 14 outfits may be more appropriate. However, they very quickly move up to the next size. If a baby stays in a particular size for 3 months and has 14 outfits, he/she will only wear the outfits about 6 times each before moving on to the next size.
I’ve found that my toddlers are the easiest on clothing compared to the other ages. Anything from 18 months to about 3T stay the nicest the longest. Oh… a hint if you just have babies. There is a difference between 24 months and 2T. 24 months clothing is smaller, and fits nicely into that growing time between 18 months and 2T.
Dealing with shoes is a whole other issue. Again, the younger children are relatively easy. I’ve kept the sizes separated into separate grocery bags that were labeled with the correct size. When the child grew out of one size, it was time to move to the next bag. The hardest part is making sure you’re not keeping too many pairs of shoes.
Once I get to the big kids, I pretty much give up on shoes – especially when it comes to boys. I will usually keep boots, and maybe some sandals. Anything else pretty much gets destroyed anyways. Now, if I had more girls, there’s a chance that my outlook might be a little different. As it stands now, the shoes my daughter grows out of gets put in the donation pile… usually that means it goes to one of her cousins.
When we’re keeping shoes, I first take into consideration the needs of our family. I ask myself a few questions:
- Will this child wear dress shoes? (My boys basically refuse to wear dress shoes)
- Does this child have a tendency to be hard on shoes?
- How many different occasions do we need to take into consideration?
Usually, this is what I end up keeping:
- A good pair of sneakers (worn when we go out, and serves as the boys’ dress shoes)
- A worn pair of sneakers – they may or may not be held together with duct tape (worn for outside work and hard play)
- Snow boots
- Mud boots (I don’t go out and buy these…yet, but I do keep them because they come in handy at my parent’s farm)
- Sandals/Flip Flops (may have a play pair and a good pair)
- Dress Shoes (worn mainly by my daughter – may have a white pair and a black pair)
In the end, we still end up with a ton of shoes. However, we end up getting rid of even more than we keep. I literally used to have bins and bags of shoes. Right before we moved, I did a huge purge and gave away a full black trash bag. What’s left is what we have in the closet, and a small box in the basement.
My goal is to go through each size that I currently have and purge down to what is necessary using the above bullet points as a guide.
Honestly, this is an ongoing goal. Clothes have a tendency to come in and/or get destroyed, so they need to be gone through and purged on a cyclical basis. Usually this will happen for me as the seasons change. However, there are those moments when you have to go back in the middle of a season because some child decided to have a growth spurt or ruin all of their pants!
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