A mom writes:
I am curious about how much clothing you have per child? I am going nuts over here with the amount. God provides! We are so very thankful — all our clothes have been hand me downs. But, they just keep coming! I know that I can say no thank you but I think to myself, maybe there is just one or 2 or more outfits that we really need in a big huge bag of 20! So, for free, I think-hey, it’s worth it!
So, anyway, my question is: do you have a set number of pants/shirts? Do you have the kids in uniforms? With all the changes of the seasons, we have such a huge amount of shorts/t-shirts/pants/shorts sweaters etc … the list could go on. Do you have any type of system that works for you?
Yes, I have a system. It’s called the Whine-About-It system. And it really works for me, but my family and friends sometimes grow tired of it, so I don’t necessarily recommend it for everyone.
Seriously, I have tried lots of systems and failed at pretty much every one of them. We too get many hand-me-downs and some of them I have been so grateful to receive, as they arrived at just the right time with just the right kinds of clothing for the kids, saving us a ton of money.
But. I learned the hard way that I do sometimes have to say “no thank you” because my kids do have enough to wear or because the items people are offering would be things I would need to store for a very long time before they saw any use. A mother’s time and energy are valuable commodities and you need to figure that cost into the “price” of a free bag of clothing. If your kids have enough to wear, is it really worth the time and energy to sort through a giant bag of hand-me-downs for one or two extra items? You just might be better off saving your sanity by declining the clothing and allowing someone else to benefit from it.
As tempting as my idea of paper pants might be, in the end, we must admit that kids need clothing. And we mothers need to acquire it, organize it, and launder it. The more kids we have, the bigger that job is going to be, even if we do limit the number of outfits each child has.
And one more thought about storing clothing: A few years back, I opened some old bins and discovered very old baby items I had saved and never got around to using again. They were nice when I packed them in the bin, but when I opened it years later, they were in awful shape. Clothing does not store well forever. If you have kids’ clothing items that you know you won’t have a use for in the next 18 months or so, is it really worth holding on to? Just so that it can “go bad” in bags or storage bins? Better to pass it on to someone who could use it right now. When the time comes, if you need clothing in that size, God will provide it. He always does.
How about you? How do you handle kids’ clothing?
Mary B says
Pre Y2K there were loads of books out set to help us be organized and supplied with everything we’d need to weather the coming disaster. I did not need Y2K to know my house and home were a disaster and I made many changes. (I’ve been reading MROL and I remember being at my wits end!)
One great idea was to streamline what the children wear. Boys really can have just jeans and t shirts most days. Little girls look great in a jumper and tshirt. Then you just switch to Turtle necks in the winter. Now that mine are older and have opinions I have to co-operate more although we insist on a certain level of modesty.
I found its very important for them to know where they are allowed to save clothes they want to wear again. Kids see the floor as just another shelf, one infinitely easier for them to reach also. If clothes they save are at least aired out or visible I can catch the gross things.
I’ve learned its a great tool to ignore the laundry for a full week every now and then. True needs become apparent. While all the dirty clothes are out of their rooms you can look through drawers and find out what needs mending, tossing, what they dislike and what has nothing to match. Kids don’t learn to do this unless the drawers are close to empty.
Bags of give aways are brought out on our Moms Bible Study morning and passed around. People grab what they need. Then what we don’t need is immediately brought to charity on the way home.
Like many of you we also receive many, many hand-me-downs. Add that to the enormous amount of clothes the Grandma’s buy – I am often up to my ears in clothes. Except for an exceptional item, I donate all clothing as soon as it is too small for any of our 5 kids. I made the mistake of holding onto my oldest daughters unbelievable 0-4 year old wardrobe, for many years and it occurred to me that it didn’t make sense to keep clothes for child who didn’t (yet) exist in our family. So I happily gave the clothes to friends who had a “real” girl to use. Also, about 2x’s a year I mega-sort and force myself to only keep the very best stuff and I call St Vincent DePaul to haul the rest away. Sometimes its hard for me to give the stuff up – because my cousins (who give me all their clothes) buy most of their kids clothing at Hannah Andersson, Nordstrom and Talbott’s (so cute!!) and I always think that maybe we’ll use it – but we never do…
I have to agree with you, Danielle, I HATE the seasonal sorting of clothing! Truth be told, I hate anything to do with clothing, which is why my husband does the lion’s share of laundry in our home. We have three teenagers, who have been doing laundry since they were about 10 or so, and they really help lighten the load (pun intended) with the laundry for the three youngest.
Back to seasonal sorting, that’s my job and I do it on my terms – NO KIDS ALLOWED while mom is sorting clothes (unless a try-on is required) and no references to mom’s uncontrollable twitching is allowed ;). We too get tons of hand me downs and I am so grateful, but I will only keep what will fit in their drawers, the rest I pass on to another family or Good Will. I have been saving larger size clothes in Space Bags in our son’s closet, but, again, only what will fit in a dresser. I’m ruthless, if it’s not “classic” in design and in perfect condition, out it goes. I haven’t had any issues with the clothes not holding up in storage, but maybe that’s because we don’t have stuff in the attic; the heat tends to do a real number on elastic and white clothing, so I prefer the top shelf of the closet. I love the Space Bags in terms of space management, but they’re not very durable, so I have to replace them periodically. Our children are in Catholic School, and I do save the uniforms because they are so expensive. I also ask around at the end of the year to see if friends have uniforms they want to pass along or if they need what we’re done with. I store those on hangers in the back of the closet.
Bottom line – it’s a tedious job, but a great opportunity to pray and thank God for all our blessings, especially when I can visibly see them laid out on the bed!
Paper pants, indeed! I gave up that idea a long time ago. I was thinking more along the lines of Tyvek clothing. You know, the stuff they wrap house in before the siding goes up? Or that companies use for envelopes that you can’t rip open? I’ll bet you could just hose them down every couple of days.
Ok, ok, but a girl can dream!
I just started a new thing in clothes storage. I have shoes, coats and girls dressy dresses separated out from the rest. (Now, “the rest” is in Rubbermaid bins, separated by Boy, Girl and Tiny Baby, and organized as best as I can by size.) This way, when a need arises for, say, a coat, I simply go to the Department of Coats and find one. Likewise with shoes (I only save the ones that can be worn) and dressy dresses. Oh, and I’ve done the same with bathing suits! I discovered recently that I had an obscene number of bathing suits! So I formed a Swim Department.
I am amazed at how many parents that I know turn down hand me downs because their children have “enough clothing.”Honestly I would never turn down going through a bag of clothes if only for one item. How much time could this actually take? I don’t think that it takes that long to sift through a few things.Who knows there might be some in there that are better than you currently have. Secondly, nobody insists that you keep everything. Why not tell the next person who offers that you would be happy to go through the bag and take anything that you can use and a then ask if they would like you to take the rest to Goodwill ( or wherever is close to you ) or give the remainder back to them to distribute to another. This way you keep the door open for when the need for clothing is there . I have received many nice things and been happy to pass on to another what I can’t use.
I personally will only have my kids hand me downs rejected once before I find someone who isn’t bothered by them.
Thanks, Danielle and the posters here. I have two bins of stuff and my youngest is 10!!! I have a few pregger friends who would love this stuff (tight budgets and the babes are several years after their last . . . ). When I offer hand me downs, I don’t mind if people say “no” because there are plenty of thrift stores and donation sites that will love taking them. I’m going to part with the bins because of this post! Thanks for making me see the light!
Whenever we get a bag of hand me downs, my kids are so excited as they go through the clothes. Together we pick out the ones that they like and fit. We’ll then go through their existing clothes and replace with the new hand me downs. For instance, if my 7 y/o picked a dress, 2 pairs of jeans and a long sleeve top, we’ll look for the same to pull out of her clothes and give to Goodwill.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed with the amount of hand me downs at once. Other times I have actually had to go to garage sales to purchase needed items. Shortly after, of course, someone will bring several bags of hand me downs.
I am always grateful however, that we can comfortably clothe our 5 children without spending a fortune.
I have 5 boys in a row (essentially all 18 months apart)… I do use the bin system because clothes essentially go from one boy the the next each year. BUT I only take hand me downs for my oldest because we are maxxed out on clothes for the other ages! And I only have one bin per season — if it doesn’t fit in the bin, then it goes to Good Will. If I had the money I think I would prefer getting just 5 outfits from Old Navy each season and then giving them away… but since I don’t — bins and hand me downs have worked. Limiting clothes to one bin is key though.
Barb Szyszkiewicz, sfo says
Like Diane, I don’t turn down hand-me-downs, but I can’t use all of them. So I do ask them what I should do with what we can’t use. Usually, it’s “pass it right along” so that’s what I do.
I also find that when I pass along things in usable condition to others, we get blessed right back.
I don’t mind the seasonal clothing sort, though mine tends to coordinate with the growth spurts rather than the seasons. And if anyone wants to pass along school uniform pieces to us, I NEVER say no!
Michelle Reitemeyer says
Nitty gritty: I try to limit my potty-trained kids to a total of FIVE play outfits and one or two outfits for church. I always end up with more by mid-season, but I try to start the season with a small number.
I always go through hand-me-downs and I’m learning to keep extra jeans for my boys because they go through the knees in a month it seems. But I try not to keep too much. There are other kids who could use them more.
At the end of a season or when a child outgrows a size, I keep only the outfits that I really like. Stained, torn, missing a button, needs a hem repair: I give them to the thrift shop. Clothing in good condition but in excess of my needs, I pass on.
I keep my extra clothes in plastic bins. I haven’t had any trouble with deteriorating conditions. Onesies and pajamas for infants, I have kept and used for each of my kids. When I get hand-me-downs, I rarely get baby clothes anymore. Everyone assumes I’m all set.
We have 3 kids so far and I haven’t really gotten rid of much – only things that I probably got on clearance somewhere that I never really liked. We’ve just now started getting hand-me-downs for the oldest boy and girl which is great. I happily sort through things and pass on what I don’t need. But, I’ve also kept bins of clothes for my kids too. I can’t part with clothes very easily, especially since we bought new (on sale or clearance) for the oldest boy and girl and they have plenty of good life left and with a younger boy to grow into things, I don’t have to find stuff for him.
I have a bin for 0-9 month boys and for girls clothes. Then it’s 9-18 months for boy and for girl. As they got older, it became about 1 per size, say 2T for boy, summer and winter together. And I hope I can keep it at that. I’ve also tried to keep jackets all together and I decided early on to buy good quality in a more neutral color, say blue that the girl can wear too and black snowpants – no purple or pink so the boys can wear them too as they get older. Boots are the same way. I will keep dress shoes and hats/mittens, etc all in one place and we will use what fits and store the rest.
And the seasonal sorting is not much fun and with only 3, I keep their summer stuff out all the time. It stays in the dresser, which is nice for the warmer days so they have t-shirts. Then, as we get closer to the summer, I have it all right there and I can safely get the right bin (say 3T) and put all the outgrown summer stuff right there and see what I have left and what I may need to supplement with. Same goes in the summer with the winter stuff. It stays in the drawer and as we near fall and we need things, we just go through the drawer with pants and long-sleeve shirts and pack away from there. Makes for a much easier job than constantly hauling bins from here to there just to sort all over again I think.
I purge a lot. I have to do it when I just can’t take it anymore. Then I go nuts and get rid of anything that isn’t worn ever, doesn’t have a match, missing buttons, too short, too long, too itchy. That usually leaves what the kids wear on a daily basis.
I don’t save clothes anymore. One day I found a box in my attic that had a bunch of tee shirts from the Old Navy. I’m sure I bought them for 2.99 on sale. I thought, this is stupid. Why is this box taking up valuable real estate in my attic? So now I just get rid of most of their clothes at the end of each season. If they are nice, I find someone to give them to. If they are too worn, I throw them away.
When someone gives me stuff I smile and accept. Then I rifle through the bag and find the best stuff and out goes every thing else.
I don’t buy in advance for the kids. They grow too quickly and I can never figure out what size they may be in a year or so. So now I just buy what I need when I need it. When I do buy something new, for myself and husband too, I go through my closets and find stuff to get rid of.
Sarah L. says
I have three children so far, and I am coming to grips with my hoarding. I finally broke down and handed off some baby boy clothes to a friend who could use them, even though I know I may have a use for them “someday.” The thing is, people have been so generous to us, so I know that should we need more baby boy clothes someday then they will come to us, either in the form of hand-me-downs or doting relatives. And who am I to deny that same generous spirit to my friend? To be honest, though, the larger issue was that I was running out of space!
I think it’s wise to hang on to dressy clothes, coats and boots, as some other commenters said, since they may not get as much use and they are costly.
This is great!!!! I just discovered a source of extra income! I LOVE sorting through my kids’ clothes! So anyone who wants to fly me to their town, you’ve got a highly-organized mom-for-hire. Seriously, I don’t mind the sorting thing at all. I actually kind of enjoy it – its like a little Christmas four times a year.
Sorting: Four times/year. Twice for season changes, twice for size changes. My kids (also nuts I guess) also love doing this. They get to see all of their “new” clothes.
Hand-me-downs: Honestly, if they’re from a friend who buys over-priced clothes I could never afford: I’ll take ’em! If they’re from someone who usually gives me stained, worn out clothes: no thank you.
Amount of clothing: If it fits in your allotted drawer space, you get to keep it. If it doesn’t, it (or something else) has to go. I use this same “system” with their toys, books, etc.
We have five children and I have found that keeping clothes on hangers works so much better for our family than bins did. I know that not everyone has enough room for this, but we are lucky enough to have a small closet in our upstairs hallway that we call our “Once Upon A Haldeman Child” closet. It is so much easier to take clothes right out of the bedroom closets and hang them straight in the storage closet and take them back out when needed. I like being able to see everything too, so if my 3t boy wears a hole in the knee of his navy pants I can easily see if we have one in 4t or if we need to purchase new ones. With the bins I usually just repurchased rather than going to the effort of getting them down and going through them.
Since clothes under 2t get worn for such a small amount of time, I always gladly loan those out to friends and family and have found that people have been very generous with us too. I don’t save anything that is stained. My girlfriends love coming over to shop in our closet and I’m glad to see the clothes get used.
For our clothes above size 2t, I usually only save what I consider “nice” clothes, meaning church clothes or better matching sets that are in really good shape. I rarely save play clothes as they get worn enough that they are in pretty rough shape by the time they are outgrown. I can always find cute, inexpensive play clothes and I enjoy finding clothes that have decorations that match what each kid likes. For example, my oldest boy loved Pooh as a little boy, then he loved dinosaurs, and then he was crazy for camo. My second boy loved cars and boats and is now way into sports. He’s just not into camoflauge. They love wearing things that reflect what they enjoy and I can usually find sweatshirts and tees that have their favorites on them.
I do save shoes and those are my labor of love. I don’t save play tennis shoes but I save everything else. Those are in one of the dreaded bins and I hate digging through it when the season or their size changes. I’ve been teasing my husband that I need shoe shelves in the “Once Upon A Haldeman Child” closet!
Any suggestions for storing and managing hair accessories? Ay-yi-yi, those are out of control!
I don’t sort clothes. So what if my daughter has to wear her bathing suit in January… she’ll survive and be stronger for it. I remember many a cold day when I only had a bikini top to wear as a bra. My mother told me to be happy I even had a bra, some girls don’t get to wear bras. My mother hated the 60’s.
May I tell you ladies that I am sitting here very nearly numb with my mind reeling at the idea of someone accepting a bag of clothes when they aren’t in need of the clothing. Do you realize how many people there are out there who are truly in need of clothing for their children. Look around Mass. See which women are wearing the same 4 or 5 outfits year round – year after year. Even if they were only blessed with one or two kids, I bet their situation is such that they could quickly put items to use. In fact – did you ever think that those small families don’t benefit from being able to have hand me downs, sibling to sibling? If a mom can’t get clothes for herself, the clothing budget of the whole family is tight. So, instead of accepting clothing that you don’t need, why not suggest someone else might better be able to use it? Or, after you’ve picked through, offer it to another family – before the thrift shop. Some people even have a tough time affording the cast offs at the thrift shop. Peace. ~~~mary
Red Cardigan says
The Seasonal Sort—arrrgh! I live in Texas, and we have one month of winter–unfortunately we get a day or two of it in November, a week in December, two weeks in January and the rest of it dribbles slowly from February to April. We also have no room for winter and summer clothes in the house at the same time, so I pretend that it’s winter and pack away most of the shorts and tee-shirts, usually two days before an ‘unusual’ late November heat wave.
Hand-me-downs would be lovely, but I was the first in my extended family to have daughters, and both of my two older girls are already taller than I am and have been wearing women’s sizes (well, petites anyway) since they were about ten. They can now wear regular women’s smalls and mediums, so I ransack clearance racks for their clothes, mostly.
Their youngest sister has WAY too many clothing items, the result of getting all the outgrown things from both sisters. When I clean out her clothes I offer the nicer “girly” dresses and things to their cousins because I know from experience how hard it is to find clothes for a preteen that aren’t cut like something Paris Hilton would find too revealing. (Another aaargh.) Playclothes I mainly donate to good causes because our girl cousins have enough of those and don’t need any of our outgrown items.
On the positive side, in another year or two the girls will probably have a “communal closet” and share most everything, because as someone who grew up with sisters close in age/size I know how much *more* interesting the clothes in your sisters’ closets are than the ones in your own!
I have the same problem/blessing — receiving bags and/or boxes of clothing from friends. I NEVER turn down something like that because I figure that I can almost always find at least one or two items we can use. The rest get passed on to someone else or given to the resale shop that financially supports the Pregnancy Center here in town. I have tried to limit the actual number of pants/shirts to one per day of the week plus one or two extras once the kids get to the point where they aren’t going through 3-4 changes of clothes a day because of spitting up or diaper blowouts. However, notice that I said “tried”. I can’t seem to force myself to get rid of clothes that I think are so cute and that the kids like. So we limit what’s out of a box to what can fit in a dresser drawer instead. Everything else goes in a Rubbermaid storage box and lives in a closet. Dresses and nicer clothes get hung up, too. I have 2 girls (ages 6 and 4) sharing one room and a closet and another daughter (age 2) in a room by herself for now.
So far this method is working for me. But I’m thinking that maybe I will start passing on the baby and toddler clothes as the new baby (due in 3 months) outgrows them. MANY of the clothes I have in storage were given to me when my oldest was born going on 7 years ago. Then if we are blessed with another child we can just start over. Of course we will definitely have to do that if this baby is a boy since all the clothes I have accumulated are for girls. And living in north Texas I only have to do seasonal changes twice a year so that definitely helps.
We always have too many clothes for our kids. They’re the only 2 granddaughters on my husband’s side and they were the first 2 granddaughters after 13 years of grandsons on my side, so they’re always getting pink. I have to keep getting rid of things. I keep the stuff I really like in labelled plastic bins. If I don’t like it, it was hard to put on/take off/play in/match — whatever! — it’s out the door.
Also, I found this idea somewhere and LOVE it: when I do laundry I put the girls’ clothes together in outfits — everything they need to wear for the day — and put them in gallon ziploc bags so that they’re easily grabbable in the morning. This really has cut down on stress in the morning, and my husband loves it, too. I’m sure we’ll reach an age when it’s not really practical any more, but for now it works wonders.
Everyone has such great ideas and ways to handle the mountain of children’s clothes!
We have 5 children and I have been doing the Rubbermaid bin thing for years, all labeled with gender and size on the outside and stacked in the kid’s closets. The youngest 4 have all worn the same white newborn outfits, I just wash them well and stick them back in the bin a few weeks later. I only save the very best stuff and only have 1 bin for each size.
I also like sorting the clothes out several times a year, the girls enjoy finding new clothes, but the boys just want it in the dresser drawer. I don’t think I have ever been offered hand-me-downs but am an avid thrift store shopper and like to buy ahead so when a kid says, “my pants don’t fit, I don’t have ANY shirts…” I can just magically pull out a new (to them) item in the new size.
I’ve been fighting the clothes battle for 18 years and eight kids. Our first 4 were boys close in age and clothes went pretty much to the next one but I still stored from the youngest. Number five is a girl and threw havoc into the whole system. After looking at blue clothing for seven years I couldn’t seem to part with any of her clothing and put them all in boxes, expecting that I’d ‘broken the code’ and another girl would follow! I’m ashamed to say that it was two boys and eight years later that little sister came and I had most all of those clothes. And guess what? They were born in opposite seasons so most of the girlie baby stuff didn’t fit. Serves me right for hoarding I guess.
Seriously though, I’ve tried to discern over the years what is being a good steward and what is hoarding. Since this last baby was born I’ve decided to part with just about everything that is smaller than our youngest son and daughter-almost everything. 😉 I have kept some neutral newborn basics but honestly, at almost 44yo I don’t know if we’ll have more children and decided it was time to LET GO!!
Rambling when I should be getting our day going….
Thanks for motivating me again to purge. We have boxes and boxes of size 12-14yo boys clothes that drive me crazy. I actually purge every year but it still seems that there are so many things that frankly I’m tired of looking at!! Next son is just 8yo. I think you just gave me permission to package it up and take it to the Christian Children’s Home…
One word for hair accessories Caboodles. these are the divided tackle box type containers that were popular in the eighties and nineties.They can usually be found at Good Will stores as well as new at Dollar General , Family Dollar, Big / Odd Lots and the likes. My daughter and I both have very long hair and each have our own Caboodle. My daughter actually has two one for decorative / outfit specific hair accessories ( she is seventeen so she gets up do’s for school dances and such ) and one for every day pony tail holders, bobby pins, clips , and a brush or two. My daughter keeps hers in her vanity drawer and I keep mine on a shelf in the bathroom closet. We also keep products that we don’t use everyday ( super hold gel / hair spray ) in these containers.If you can’t find the Caboodle name or if they are out of budget ( I paid $1.00 or under for each of ours second hand ) look for a craft box or even a tackle box.
Less is more.
We don’t really need more than 3 total outfits per child. When they have a great abundance of clothing, they usually end up wearing their 2 favorites day after day anyway. Older kids usually need only 2 good pairs of pants and 3 decent shirts. They play favorites even more strongly. If there is a good gap of years between one child and another I don’t save the hand-me-downs. They will be old, ugly, misshapen and out of style by the time you get them out again. Shopping at consignment stores has been a saving grace for our family. A lot of the clothing is new and better quality than I could buy at Walmart or Target. I once outfitted six kids in winter clothes for $200 at consignment stores.
I want to make a quick comment on Mary’s comment on the moms who wear the same 4-5 outfits a year, year after year. I am one of those women. I have six kids, and yes, not a big budget for clothes. But I wear thoses 4-5 outfits because shopping for me is a penance. Also, I want to personally remain simple in my needs. My clothes are in good shape for being 10-15 years old. Her point though is pass it on! I agree with her.
I provide my kids with the basics for a week. Under the age of doing their own laundry, they have no more than that. It is kept in bins in the laundry room, where they change in pjs, dispose of the dirty clothes and dress the next morning. So there are no clothes in the bedrooms for me to lose.
Those who do laundry, have it in their room. Anything beyond the basics they buy themselves with babysitting money or gift cards.
I hand down dresses (they can be hard to find), dress shoes (still in good shape) and winter coats. All other clothing, unless it will be used the next year by someone, is donated. If someone else can use it, I don’t want to be storing it.
God provides and when his provision is that we have to buy it, we first hit used clothing stores. Which I am now headed out to, since my boys have both put holes into the knees of all their pants in the last 3 weeks!! How do they do that??!!
Teresa G. says
Oh, Shucks! I guess it’s time. I had forgotten that I had decided to get rid of ALL of the baby clothing if I wasn’t pregnant by the end of last year. Sigh. I’ve had someone in baby clothes for most of the last 17 years, but our 9th “baby” is going to be 3 in March and I’ll be 44 next month. Double sigh. I’m not a clothing hoarder, but it IS hard to move on from this delightful stage of life. Thanks for the reminder to pass it on!
I do keep boxes of church shoes, one for boys and one for girls – someone is always outgrowing them. I also keep the nicer church dresses and the dress clothes for the boys. We’re simple though; about 2 church outfits a season for each kid. I also keep a cedar chest full of coats – sorta like the gal above who said she had a department store for certain items. We, too, have the boot department – a gazillion pairs of those if you count the ones scattered across our big property.
We never pass up bags of clothes….we have regular “suppliers” and they are usually all in superb shape. I just take what I need and pass the rest to my sister. She takes what she needs for her 8 and passes the rest on. I’m fortunate to have several big walk in closets in the kids’ rooms so I can store seasonal bins on their shelves. It really helps half way through the season to go to the bins when my 5 year old grew too tall for his 5T jeans overnight! We woke up last week and they were just floods! I am definitely of the mindset of passing on what we don’t need, but try to balance that with keeping some of the stuff they’ll grow in to shortly.
Gosh, I’m envious I don’t get any hand me downs but do keep an eye out for yard sales. I get the kids clothes cheap and if I find a good one I buy ahead a couple of years and just put them in a bin and save them. It has worked well for us and saved us a ton of money.
Well, I’m expecting number 4 so I am just starting to appreciate how huge a job this is growing in to. 🙂
I will say that as far as taking hand me downs, I have more than once taken an offer from someone but asked if it would be ok to pass on anything I can’t use. They always say yes, they are usually just glad to unload the stuff. Then I feel free to quickly dig through for any holes I need to fill and pass on the rest to someone else.
Note, for boys of a certain age, it seems you can never have too many pants. Even if you think you have plenty at the beginning of fall, holes mysteriously appear in pair after pair and you will find yourself limping along with a couple of pair of jeans by spring.
I also second that clothing does “go bad’. My SIL passed on baby clothes to us that her son had outgrown 10 years previously. It was very nice, expensive designer clothing from Baby Gap and the like. I was able to use some things, but many of the items that had elastic in them had begun to dry rot and were useless. Because of that, we pass on things quickly. My only daughter is 11yo, and we pass on what she outgrows right away. Even if our current baby-in-waiting is a girl, that’s just too long to hold on to stuff. Our boys are a big almost 8 year old and a 3 year old. I pass on the stuff that the 7yo outgrows, my friend with a quite a bit smaller 6 yo uses it, and then she passes boy things back to me for the 3yo. 🙂
A rule we live by in our house is, if its missing a button, torn, stained, needs hemming..throw it in our rags box or throw it out!
St. Vincent de Paul is doing US a favour, not the other way around.
Don’t give away something you wouldn’t buy yourself!
Its called respect!
I agree that God will provide. My older boy was an only for many years. I held onto all my baby stuff for a few years til I realized it would be better to “bless” someone else with it. I figured if we were blessed with another child, people would be happy for us and s/he would receive what s/he needed. In fact that is what happened. I received more baby gear and clothing than I needed when our little one was born 8.5 years later!
And I agree, if I wouldn’t put it on my child, I won’t give it to “the poor”. That is just disrespectful.
Lisa T. says
Wow, I felt like I was reading my own words in these comments on taking (too many) hand-me -downs and keeping labeled bins, etc. so I won’t repeat, but I will say an area that bogs me down a bit is that I feel a moral obligation to fix up, mend and repair clothes and give them away rather than just throw them out. I am pretty good at repairs and I am the one who buys that nice sweater with the torn button holes or the missing buttons…and I’m glad to have it. Keep passing them along unless they’re really far gone. (Am I the only one upset at the thought of a good shirt thrown away because of a missing button or ripped seam? )
The trouble of course, as I said above, can be keeping up with fixing things we can’t even wear anymore with six children and a part-time job. Mending the things we really need takes plenty of time as it is.
I have really enjoyed this discussion as I have received both motivation to only keep what clothing we really need and new suggestions for organizing it all. Thank you! I do want to add to the discussion about donating to thrift stores, though. I worked for a time for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and I know that our stores would inspect the items that were donated and only put items in good condition out for sale – no holes, stains, etc. The rest they would recycle in some way – I think into rags. Some thrift stores just throw damaged clothing away and others may put them out on the racks to sell. I guess if we want to be good stewards, we should have an idea if the clothing and other items that we donate will actually be appropriately used. A reminder to myself to call our local thrift store!
I say thanks and accept everything. Then I go through it the same day I get it. Anything that my kids will use now or in the next 2 years, we keep. Everything else is refolded neatly and placed in a sack, then put in the back of the mini-van to go to Catholic Social Services, for somebody else to use.
We drop off things monthly or so. Not just things we’ve been given, but also clothing, toys & books my kids have outgrown. It makes the house easier to manage with less stuff and helps out people who need the stuff more than we do.
The reason I keep things for up to 2 years is that it seems to be the right duration as far as fashionable colors & styles and also because it keeps my boxes to a minimum. My girls are wearing sizes 5 & 6, so I have four boxes for them, sizes 5, 6, 7 and 8. When the youngest outgrows all her 5s, that will become my size 9 box. My son is wearing 8-10 and will for a while, and I can keep all his stuff in one box, because boys are so hard on clothes, we get very few hand-me-downs for him. I thrift 1-2x a month, so I sometimes get things for him that I keep in there, too.
I also have a baby clothing box where I keep treasured items. This box is cardboard and stored higher up in the basement so it won’t get damp, but it keeps clothing better than plastic. The other bins are plastic because I rotate stuff in and out of them every quarter, and then everything gets an airing. All the stuff is washed with oxy-clean before it goes into the bin so it’s really clean, and then washed in that again when it comes out, so I haven’t had issues with stuff being destroyed just from being stored in plastic.
Oh, as far as quantity:
3-4 uniform pants (shorts when the weather is warm)
5 uniform shirts
1 uniform jumper for girls
1 uniform sweatshirt
1 uniform sweater for girls (my son is never that cold)
4 pairs of jeans (7 pairs of shorts when the weather is warm)
5-6 shirts (long or short sleeves, depending on weather)
All the kids
1 nice church outfit
1 dressy outfit for weddings, funerals, Sacraments (usually)
3 pairs of jammies (for the girls — my son has given them up)
1 more pair of undies than I have (so I know when to do laundry, except any toilet-training kid has twice as many pairs as I do)
3 more pairs of socks than I have
Girls also have tights & camisoles & slips for dresses
2 swimming suits
1 pair of snow pants
1 jacket for winter with 2 matching hats and 1 pair of mittens strung through the sleeves so they won’t get lost (until age 7)
1 jacket for spring/fall
1 pair of tennis shoes
1 pair of church shoes
1 pair of winter boots
There are also uniforms for lessons (tae kwon do for my son, dance for my daughter), 1 each.
Susan G. says
I do not have anything grand to add; I only hold on to a few special outfits for for each child to pass down.
But this discussion reminds me of when I was starting my freshman year of high school in 1983. My mom happily presented me with a box of clothes my sister had worn at that age…..in 1976!!! I was mortified! Fortunately (for me at least) we have such different builds that nothing fit!
Oh, Susan G., you made me laugh!!! Thanks 🙂
This is a timely post. I think a week’s worth of outfits, plus a few dressier choices, should be sufficient for every person. I like the potty-trained distinction that someone made earlier, and I suppose that includes adults! We must show the example of restraint and simplicity we wish them to emulate.
Okay, late comment, but I only have a few outfits I wear to mass– and my daughter only has two “mass” dresses. We are not “in need” and I hope no one ever turns down clothes thinking we need them more! The limited wardrobe is on purpose, because it’s the only reliable way I know to counter vanity and greed when it comes to appearances and clothes.
It also makes my daughter conscious of whether she’s playing too rough for her “special occasion” clothes and makes her more careful if she gets to go out to eat while wearing them– because if these get stained past the ability to clean, we don’t replace them. Clothes get replaced when they are worn out or outgrown. If she stains one of her two “nice” dresses, she can just wear the other every time. Or wear the one even though it has a small rip or stain.
Since she’s very conscious of small rips or stains, it also has made her more conscious when others have small tears or stains, or holes worn in the bottoms of their shoes. She’s become more compassionate and wants to help those who don’t have the money to replace their shoes or clothes.
This is an attitude that didn’t exist with her back when I bought her every cute dress in her size at every consignment store and thrift store we ran across. I thought I’d feel bad “depriving” her. I can’t BELIEVE how long I spent depriving her of the opportunity to grow some personal responsibility and compassion.
My son is still so young that “formal” clothes are just the nicer regular clothes, otherwise he’d ruin them every Sunday.
Oh, and I do donate stained and ripped clothes. I also BUY stained and ripped clothes– what else are they going to go dig in sandboxes and play in mudpuddles in? Or garden in?
And I also buy stained and ripped clothes for the fabric or buttons. Makes for cheap supplies to fix missing buttons (many companies have imprinted buttons, so to get an extra to replace a button you must buy another garment FROM that company– stained ones at thrifts are maybe twenty-five cents and usually have several buttons). The fabric is for doll clothes.
Stained shirts also make great paint smocks, and “cooking clothes”. Works better than aprons, and no need to remember where you put the “kids’ aprons”.