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Our Journey to Simplicity: Part 9 – Kids Clothes

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In November 2014, after some bizarre weather, I decided it was finally safe (on November 11) to take the majority of short sleeved shirts out of my girls’ closets. When I changed out Adelynn’s closet, I was super overwhelmed. I could not believe the amount of clothing that had accumulated. It was embarrassing! I decided that my life would be easier if I didn’t have all the clothes to deal with. So I got after it! She was at preschool and Ava was napping. There was nothing in my way.

How did this happen though? We have had several wonderful mom-friends give us bags of clothing. Which is SO generous and I am thankful! There are nice things, there are play things, there are everyday things. All of it is awesome! However, we have been gifted with so much that I can afford to be a little picky. This is a weird concept for me since my mind tells me that every item was a gift and we should make the most of it. 

But when my cousin gives me everything of her daughter’s, and I don’t know what is coming in advance, sometimes I buy ahead for Adelynn in the same size that is coming my way. For example, I just realized Ava had 4 white cardigans in the same size. One was a birthday gift, one I originally bought for Adelynn, and the other two were hand me downs from two other moms. Adelynn also had 2 yellow cardigans in the same size – both given from two different moms. With Ava, I just chose my favorite. With Adelynn, one was in much better shape than the other.

The root of the issue is getting rid of things as soon as you notice you don’t need them. When I was recently changing over seasons in the girls’ closets, I found I-don’t-know-how-many pairs of 3T black pants. Instead of putting them away for the Fall, that is the time to take several and put them in the piles that are leaving the house (we will talk more about piles for part 11). If you catch things soon enough, it is less work in the long run. Stop things from finding a home before you end up moving them twice. My friend brought us 6 swim suits in the same size. These suits entered the house via the living room, and most never got past there. I had already ordered one for Adelynn and was then gifted two more! I think 9 suits is more than enough. Now, I am new at this, so no judging. But we kept 4. If I was a really good minimalist, we would have 1. But I am of the belief that having a play-in-the-yard suit, and a wear-to-the-pool suit, are nice options.

So what do I do with my stuff? I think different choices are right for different items. When I was going through the clothes one afternoon (it took more than one afternoon for this). I made a Garage Sale box, a Donate box, and a Consign box. I felt like choosing a box for each thing was pretty simple. I have a baby gate. Do I want to lug it out of the house? No. So it goes in the garage sale box and someone else can carry it away. I have items I have bought that could be useful again and are worth a little bit of money. Consignment box. I have items of clothing that were given to me, so pay it forward. Donation box.

The items in the donation box will go a variety of places. There’s a local school that takes items of clothing to be distributed to families in need. I especially like to put winter items in that box. If I have friends or family who have mentioned they are short on a particular item, it’s easy enough to let them have what they can use too. I gave several pairs of 4T pajamas to a friend, several 4T jackets, and a few pairs of 3T jeans to another. I have a pile of 2T stuff that is about to head to another friend.

Overwhelmed with clothing? I think setting rules for yourself as you purge is okay! If you don’t want to store more than one box of a size and season for the next kid, then don’t! Tell yourself you are only saving what fits in a certain box. You won’t be overwhelmed when it comes time for the next kid to wear it. Set any rules you want to! I was cleaning out short sleeved shirts and decided I only had space for 2/3 of it. So I separated it out – 2 in the keep pile, 1 in the leaving pile. When I recently went through Ava’s closet, I knew she wouldn’t be wearing 2T in the Fall. So all of the 2T items were taken out of the closet. Again, the things that were rarely or never worn, things I didn’t like, things the girls didn’t seem to like, things that had gotten in worse shape than I realized – all. gone. Some were put in the donate box, some the consignment, some were rags/trash and some were put in the pile for friends. That way they don’t move one step further. I have heard of the method called OHIO. Only Handle It Once. So if I take it out of Ava’s closet and it needs to go to the donate bin – in it goes! No more of the in-between stuff. No more saving for later.

I don’t know that there is an exact formula for this, but I’d say my friend Jess has this stuff down by now. She only has a handful of complete outfits, along with a couple of church outfits per season per kid. (Correct me if I am wrong about that, Jess!) She has a single-door sized closet that has her two oldest kids’ clothes in it and it is only half full! I remember being so in awe of that. Look at all that laundry that doesn’t have to be done… look at all those choices that her kids don’t have to make. Ah. Closet space.

I mentioned another great opportunity once before. But I think coat drives are excellent! They benefit everyone who participates. I would say if you are cleaning out coats in the summer, it’s definitely worth it to hang on to them until the coat drives happen in the Fall. How many coats and jackets do you need per size? Again, I say 2 coats and 2 jackets. I know, I know. Minimalism. But for me, I like to have one they can wear and get dirty, and one they can wear to church. Practicalism. That’s a word.

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One of these days I will learn to take pictures of my rooms before and after. This picture minimizes it, but if you take the tote size into consideration… it’s a lot of stuff. This is my pile pre-sorting. You have to trust me when I say that it is SO much more organized now, there is SO much less now, and I feel SO much better! 🙂

Let me know what kids clothing you are purging today!

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