WFMW: Changing Seasons and Kids Clothes

I realize quite a lot of you have already begun this if you need to do it at all, especially all you people in the southern half of the US. For the rest of us spring and summer clothes are still in our future. This particular trick isn’t much but it makes a huge difference in our house.

We store all our off season clothes in huge Rubbermaid bins in the basement. (This was a wonderful step for us–they used to be stored in cardboard boxes and the mold and mice LOVED them.) With five of us in the family and winter temperatures in the 30’s and lower we have some heavy winter clothes so we have LOTS of bins. That isn’t the tip though though it is a good one if you have a damp basement or mice issues.

Today I was looking for some missing material and had to search all the bins to find it. Because I am a bit of a ditz when seasons change and though I do sort the kids clothes into varying sizes I often start tossing things in towards the end and the labels are pretty useless. Labeling–a good tip but not the one I am going for.

I have been, for the past month, gradually filling garbage bags with stuff we no longer need. That is a lot since Esther is built exactly opposite Rachel and other than some fairly basic items hand-me-downs no longer work out so well and Rachel is growing out of everything. So, I grabbed some garbage bags and started tossing all the stuff that had seen better days or which Rachel would barely fit into and Esther would never wear. Issac is just getting taller, much like Esther, so most of his shorts and t-shirts will still fit. In the end of my tossing spree I had filled two entire garbage bags with stuff for the thrift shop and emptied 4 bins. Tossing is not really my tip either though it is an excellent thing to do–clutter breeds more clutter.

I do this every year however this is only the second time I was smart and did the majority of the tossing while the kids were elsewhere. You see, I have some sentimental kids. Really sentimental kids. The sort that whine and cry because all their favorite things no longer fit. The sort that insist that every, single, thing that no longer fits be stored away for their own children. I used to be like that too–which is why we moved box after box of stuff I thought I would need only to find that they were never the right season or style. Nope. I keep a few favorites–ones that they really love and that we associate with their childhood–the rest get put back into use at the thrift shop while the kids are happily occupied elsewhere. That is part of the tip–sort through the seasonal stuff before the kids see it so you can eliminate the worst of it.

Once it warms up a bit (warmer than 45, hopefully nearer to 55 on a consistent basis) I will drag the bins upstairs and set up shop. I grab a small tablet or scrap paper and make a whole slew of tickets based on what the kids will need for the next season. For instance–since we stay home most of the week and homechurch the kids only need a few “going places” outfits. They need a few “dress” outfits. Then they need enough play outfits to last one week. So lets say they need to have one play coat, one dress coat, a sweatshirt, several t-shirts, several pairs of shorts–whatever. (Think “packing”–I figure out what they need the same way I pack for a trip–they only need a week or so worth of clothing but it all needs to work together.) Once I figure out how many of each clothing item the kids need I make a ticket for each item, hand them the tickets and have them “shop”.

They each have their bin full of clothes–some too big, some too small (I have hopefully eliminated the worst offenders). As they dig through and try things on they keep in mind the tickets they have and what they can buy. They need to make sure each thing they choose to keep fits and works with everything else they choose to keep and each outfit has to be run by mom. When they choose to “buy” something they bring me the ticket and the items and I check them. After they use a ticket they can’t use it again. Occasionally this comes down to some painful choices but it is teaching them to “spend” wisely and allows them the freedom to choose what they want to keep and keeps the clutter and “clean clothes in the dirty laundry”at bay. It also gives me an accurate picture of what each kid has and what they need–for instance Rachel only has a few things that will fit and will instead use her tickets to help us track what I need to buy her at the thrift shop. Have the kids “shop” for their clothes among what they have– that is the rest of tip.