March 26th, 2016


storing the kids clothes

I started to write up a comment in mrs_dragon's lj about storing kids clothes but it turned into an entry so here it is.

Baby clothes! They come from the AIR, I promise, I have no idea how our kids got so many clothes.

When Josie started outgrowing clothes, the week after she got home from the hospital I think, I started putting them in big storage bins in the basement. We have a room with shelves that we bought a ton of clear bins for... our favorites are at lowes. I'm a big believer in clear bins. I'd sort the sizes, label per the season, and every size got a dedicated 66 quart storage tote measuring 24-in W x 16.8-in H x 13.1-in D. Newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months summer, 6-12 months winter, 18 months winter, we saved it all because we were definitely having another kid.

Then other kid showed up and I got out the newborn tote and realized... why did I save all this?

I don't know if I was thrifty, sentimental, or just sleep-deprived, but I had everything in there, even outfits we didn't even like, dresses with weird bibs, grimy onesies with stains from very bad days, pants with bizarre height-width ratios, stuff we GOT handed down to us so here I was asking if it was up for a fifth kid. Some clothes I loved! But some I didn't.

And on top of that, Olive got clothes because all babies GET clothes, and some of her sizes were off... she was our tiny baby, whereas Josie beat all growth charts she could find. Olive was born small and just never has put a big priority on growing, so when the seasons hit I was like "How come we have hardly any 18 month winter clothes?!" It's because by the time josie turned one in the summer she was in 2Ts. So even having two girls with early summer birthdays, we had to buy clothes.

My sister had a baby as Olive was outgrowing clothes so I started giving her the bags but I realized... it was too much. So I told her straight out to go through them, and if they go straight to the thrift shop, so be it. I have no sadness.

Reading Marie Kondo got me to realize it again - I was storing too much.

So here's what I started doing. First, I changed to smaller bins - no more 66-quart megatotes. Every size+season combo now gets a 29 quart tote measuring 13-in W x 16.8-in H x 13.1-in D. I like this size because it fits in the tops of closets, too.

I use a big tote for "clothes to sort". I'll go through a kids drawer and sort out everything that's the wrong size or seasonally inappropriate and they go in a big "to sort" tote.

Josie helps with this now. We'll dump out her drawers and I'll have her count out, like, 12 favorite shirts. I tell her we're putting the rest away, not tossing them forever, so the decision doesn't feel too final, she can change her mind if she thinks of a shirt later that she wishes was still available. She actually surprised me with how good she was at sacrificing - mostly because she likes SPACE, even with her toys, she just loves having an empty open room or drawers where she can see everything.

Then I go through when I sort and make categories. 2T short sleeve shirts... how many does any kid need? There's not a hard limit, but I don't think you need 30 if you do laundry every other week or so and have a habit of wearing the same few very loved shirts several days in that cycle. Everything I keep I have to love. And it has to fit in the box. The rest goes to the DAV down the street in big bags.

I've slowed down on buying, too. Less clearance racks. More wardrobe items that mix and match and go together. I saw the Primary ads on facebook, ordered some from there, I like them, they're not cheap but they're sturdy with re-enforced seams. hand me down worthy.

I only buy kids socks 3-4 packs at a time. Kids socks have this curse that they'll be all different colors, every pair. So you're always losing one sock and the pair is doomed. Having several identical packs means you've got 4 or 6 of the same sock, not just two, so they're easier to sort.

I think my sister will be happy, because the 18 month size is the last huge garbage bag of clothes that I sent her, after this it's very scaled back.

This scaling down of the storage is something I'd do whether or not I was personally planning on having another baby - I'm not, for the record. But if I was I'd be really happy to find a small tote of good newborn clothes that I loved, instead of the giant mess I opened before Olive was born.

I've been joking with my friends about the flaws in the "keep only what sparks joy" philosophy... so, no toilet plunger in the house? But when it comes to kids clothes that you're storing for future kids, whether yours or someone else's, I'm really happy to be storing less.