I've been asked many times for tips on kids clothes and how to keep them from taking over. We could always be better, but for the most part, we have things figured out. As our kids get older, things change, so you might find some of these tips better for kids under 5.
The key is figuring out what works in your home and for your family. Once you do that, you'll have a system and the clothes will be more manageable.
Maybe you want a little bit of a background before I start.
Our children are 7, 5, 4, 2, and 9 months. Our home is roughly 2200 sq ft and we have four bedrooms: ours, a small office/nursery, and two large kid bedrooms. Our older daughter is in one room, baby is near us, three boys share a room. The pictures in this post are from our old home, when we also had three kids sharing a room.
This is what works for us. It might not work for you, it might not work for us in another year or five. But I’m willing to change things up and amend what we do to best fit our family.
8 TIPS HOW TO KEEP KIDS CLOTHES FROM TAKING OVER:
- Have less.
- Buy (mostly) secondhand.
- Don't save everything.
- Keep it simple, use like items.
- Don't fold
- Do you like it?
- Buy Ahead.
- Dealing With Emotional Reasons
Here's a little bit more on each of these. If you'd like to see a recent periscope I did on the first four tips, you can watch here: http://whitehouseblackshutters.com/periscope
1.) Have less.
Honestly, I have this piece of advice for any area of your home that feels unmanageable. Having less helps in more ways than you think. You have less to take care of. You have less to wash. Less to put away. You have less to pile up. Less to get rid of when it gets to be too small.
Are your drawers too stuffed? Do you feel like you don't have enough everyday storage space for clothing? Do you feel like your child has too many clothes? More clothes than he can wear?
If you answered yes to any of these, you would benefit from weeding a few things out. Ask a friend or family member if they can use items, but if not, donate. If it is in bad shape, ask your thrift shop if they recycle items (Goodwill and most Salvation Army locations DO), put it in a labeled "recycling."
2.) Buy secondhand (mostly).
Every family is different and if buying new items bring you joy, go for it! If things are somewhat tight, you go through clothes quickly, or you have kids who are rough on clothes, try it out. You do have to be careful, it is much easier to have MORE secondhand clothing, which leads to things being less manageable.
I look for brand name and good condition clothing. You'll be spending a fraction of the amount you would on even sale items. I shop mostly garage sales, facebook selling sites, thrift stores, and 5-10% things from a store. I try to avoid "sales" or clearance racks because many times, the thing ends up being more than I would like to spend!
When I buy clothing secondhand for babies and toddlers from a garage sale, I look for items for $1 and lower, sets $2 and lower. Since some items will see multiple kids, I'll "splurge" on items in really good condition or with a more durable brand name. If I am buying a LARGE amount, I will ask the seller, "I might be interested in buying a large amount of items. If I do, would you consider a lower price?" It's a win-win situation, the seller gets rid of more clothing and makes more money, the buyer buys more items. For more garage sale tips, read this post.
Another bonus to secondhand? If you spend $1 on something, donating too-small clothes is easier.
3.) Don't Save Everything!
If you have children close together, it is smart to save clothing. But not everything.
First, the obvious. Some items get worn or dirty, bag those up for a donation center and mark "recycling." Maybe some clothing items you didn't quite love and they got shoved to the back of the drawer. Or maybe YOU thought they were cute, but your child never wanted to wear them. Sell them or donate and move on.
You will find some new items for each kid. If you save everything, you are going to be overwhelmed when you bring it out of storage. Keep it simple and it will help you down the line.
4.) Keep it simple, use like items.
My exception to the secondhand rule are underwear, tshirts, and socks. For these items, keep it simple.
Buy multiple packs of socks where every sock in the whole pack matches. When one gets gross, you can toss one sock without losing the pair. Or you can buy one pack and add to what you have. Girls socks can be trickier. My kids like fun socks, so we have those too. 🙂
For t-shirts, I stick to Hanes. For underwear, I let them pick.
For kids close in age (for instance, my 4 and 2.5 year old), all their socks, tshirts, and underwear are the same size and in the same drawer. Maybe that is weird but it works for us.
5.) Don't fold.
My older kids are starting to want to fold their clothes, which is fine. For the younger kids, we set it nicely in the drawer.
We have a large girl bedroom and a large boy bedroom in our house. Each room has a laundry basket and my kids will do their laundry once a week (sometimes with help from me). When we sort their laundry out, we just bring the basket up to their room and sort into piles for each person.
Each kid has an undergarment drawer, sock drawer, pj drawer and they all go in there. Look for beds with large drawers underneath, those help! I sort out off-season clothes into easy to reach bins in the closet in case we need them AND to avoid shorts wearing in the winter. We also have a uniform drawer for school which has helped A TON.
6.) Does it make you happy?
If you feel like your kids have too much clothing, go through it with this mindset:
Do you like how it looks or how it fits on them? If it's dirty or stained or just ends up in the back of the drawer, you don't need it. If a certain style of pants falls down, you don't need it. If grandma gave you something, use it when you see her or let it bless someone.
Your child doesn't like it? I know you're the parent, but let them pick and choose your battles. Would you like someone telling you no more comfy yoga leggings? If they don't like jeans, keep 1-2 pairs and switch to leggings. If your boys only want sweatpants or athletic shorts, compromise! Want to be just like dad? More dress shirts.
Ask them questions when sorting laundry, ask them if they want it, take them shopping (or online shopping) with you. Give them some ownership and I promise, I PROMISE, they will be more responsible. You know, help you with laundry, putting it away... the good things!
Do you just feel like you have way too much? Weed out multiples or save them in a bin for when things get trashed and you need more shirts.
7.) Buy Ahead
Yep that's right. I'm telling you to re-think your clothing storage.
Instead of saving clothes that don't fit, save clothing that will fit.
This can mean hand-me-downs in good condition! But don't go too crazy, try to only go a year in advance. For a baby, this might mean a bin for 0-6, 6-12, 12 months, 18 months, 2T, because they all grow so differently. For older kids, you'll only need 1-2 sizes ahead. Keep in mind what your kid can use, don't buy 50 shirts, 3 pairs of winter boots, or 5 pairs of plaid shorts. Only get things in like new condition.
I do this with shoes as well, each kid has a bin of shoes that will fit them in the future. This makes it easier with my boys, when a pair doesn't fit and is still good, it goes into the next kid's shoe bin.
8.) Dealing with Emotional Reasons
Like I said in my post about decluttering your own clothes, clothes can be tricky. Kids clothes can be even trickier.
I think the most common reason all parents feel is getting emotional over how fast time has gone. Any time I go through kids clothes to go up to the next size, I feel a little twinge of something. Sometimes I try to deny it and instead, put off sorting out the clothes that don't fit. I didn't understand it when my kids were tiny and I was excited for their next stages. But as time moves faster, I get it.
Some other reasons: if you suffered a loss through miscarriage, are having a hard time trying to conceive, wanted more children, or had different ideas of what your family would look like. If this is the case, I'm so sorry and I wish I could hug you through the screen.
It is okay to feel emotional. For me, it helped to remember that they're threads, buttons, and cloth. They don't have feelings and they're not here to make you feel bad.
If seeing them makes you feel bad, you have my permission to let it leave and stop making you unhappy.
If seeing them causes you dread at the thought of all the time to go through it, donate it in one swift pickup. Don't look twice, don't go through it, just pick up those bins, call up a pickup service, and let them be on their way.
Another thing that WILL help, create a story around the clothing. Picture a family who just lost a job and whose kid had a growth spurt. Your clothing would bless them more than you know. The little dress you bought will be in that baby's first birthday photos and have memories for years to come. Try to redirect your good, bad, sad memories associated with the clothing and think of the new memories they will have for someone else.
And then let them go.
Do you have any tips I missed or ideas you'd like to add? Leave them in the comments below!