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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.


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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2016 10:17 am (UTC)
I'm really glad Gwen has two younger female cousins, because we can pass a lot of clothes down to them! I'm also really glad Gwen has two older female cousins, because most of her clothes are hand-me-downs from them!
Mar. 27th, 2016 11:20 am (UTC)
That's kind of interesting. I knew right away that we would only have one since it was very difficult to concieve and then I had two horrible pregnancy conditions that caused me to lose more weight than I gained. I was thinking your process would be totally different from mine, but really it's not that much.

I have a clear bin under her bed. Every time she outgrows something, I toss it in the bin. When the bin gets full, I wash and fold everything and sort into piles to take to the resale shop, donate to charity or keep. I have a small keep box and when I put new things in, I re-evaluate the old things. I'm not sure how long I'll keep adding to the keep box. She's already at the point of wearing her clothes out instead of just switching sizes every three months, so I only added one thing the last go around... To be honest I'm not sure why I'm saving the keep clothes box, but I'm still too sentimental about it to let everything go yet.
Mar. 27th, 2016 12:59 pm (UTC)
I've just tidied away the first lot of R's baby clothes into a vacuum packed bag and had exactly the same 'how much of this do I really want to keep?' moment. I'm also having it with clothes buying in the first place, now - some regular, reused basics works much better than a closet full of stuff that never gets worn, which is what we risked doing with stuff over the last few months in particular.
Mar. 27th, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC)
When the toilet is plugged, a plunger sparks joy.
Mar. 27th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
I saved all my oldest's clothes but when I had my second son, their builds were so different that after about nine months, Alan couldn't wear anything he inherited from David. I held on to everything nonetheless, and most of it worked for John. He was even able to use some of Alan's hand-me-downs. As a result, until he was in his teens, he refused to wear anything new. This meant that when I had to fill a wardrobe gap for him with new items, I had to run them through the washer and dryer six or seven times to get them to an acceptable level of worn-ness. (John even wore David's suit for his bar mitzvah. That pleased him.)

Moral: No matter what you decide to do, there will be some flaw in your reasoning. FanSee

Edited at 2016-03-27 07:14 pm (UTC)
Mar. 27th, 2016 07:16 pm (UTC)
I think I need to read that damn book. I've got stuff that is NOT causing me joy or even a mild glow. FanSee
Mar. 27th, 2016 11:33 pm (UTC)
Nice clothing system. Do you store from the eldest even though they're older, for hand me downs for the smaller one as well?
Apr. 8th, 2016 10:30 am (UTC)
I have a weird little system that worked for my two girls. I have two wire crates in the top shelf of their closet. When the older girl grows out of something, I stash it in one of the crates. When the younger girl is running low on clothes, I dig to the bottom of that crate and renew her supply.
When the younger girl grows out of something, it goes in the second crate until I give it away or sell it.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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