Posted by: mmstanger | July 7, 2010

Kids’ Clothing Management

What works for me?  Having a “paper brain” to help me stay focused and reasonable when doing seasonal tasks like sorting the kids’ clothes.

This comes to my mind as, lately, I have been sorting bags of clothes that recently got handed down to us for Baby Jack and Nina, as well as rooting around the various places we had outgrown and yet-to-be-grown into clothing tucked throughout our overloaded storage spaces.  First pregnant, and now with a three-week-early newborn at home, I have been a bit too brain-dead at times to make responsible choices about which items to keep and which to pass along again, as well as about what to do with our soon-to-be-outgrown clothes.  Thus, I jumped on my computer to dig out the “paper brain” I began composing last winter for moments just like this one.   You see, I work best with plans and checklists, and, having written guidelines to help me effectively sort the kids’ out-sized clothing, as well as their “new” hand-me-downs works for me.  Perhaps, you could use a similar plan.  So, now that I have a virus-free, working computer again, as well as our surprise blessing sleeping quietly nearby as his older siblings are engaged in a craft here at the table, I thought I would take a few moments to share my “paper brain”.  Feel free to borrow and adapt it!

Our Hand-Me-Down Plan

  • “now” sized hand-me-downs — See if good-condition items mix and match with the wardrobe we already have.  If so, and if we are not above our Clothing Inventory limits, add these items to the kids’ wardrobes.  If we are over our limit, only add items if purging items within the same clothing category.  Pass on whatever excess there is to friends, family, Freecycle and/or non-profits.
  • too-small hand-me-downs — Do not pass go; do not be tempted to set a box or bag anywhere that it might become fixed in our home, adding to the clutter.  Within days, pass too-small clothing onto friends, family, Freecycle and/or non-profits.
  • too-large hand-me-downs — Add items to bins labeled by child, size and season for up to two-to-three sizes larger than kids currently are.  If the bins are overly full, only keep clothes that are practical, stylish and, preferably, made from natural fibers, which coordinate with other items in the bins and/or are needed according to our Clothing Inventory lists.  Any excess items, pass along within days to friends, family, Freecycle and/or non-profits.  Do not let extra bags or boxes find fixed positions on our home!

And, while  at all this, say a prayer of thanks.  Many families have but one of two outfits per child.  For us to spend “work” time, as well as thought, on “clothing management” is a blessing we too often forget to count!

Our Kids Seasonal Clothing Sort Plan

And, what about the clothing items that are already in the kids’ closet?  Well, only so much will fit in there and, with the kids in the midst of their high-growth stages, a plan is needed to keep the closets from seasonal explosions as well.  Hence:

Sort Luke’s clothing into the following categories:

  • stained, ripped, etc. clothes — Set aside one fall/winter outfit for a scarecrow.  Then, offer the rest on Freecycle as play clothes/craft materials.  If there are no takers, donate the rest to St. Vincent De Paul as rags. (As I understand, St. Vincent de Paul is one of the only clothes collection non-profits that does not simply toss clothes they don’t think clients will use.  Instead, they sell these at a per pound rate to help fund some of their programs.)
  • 2-3 favorite outfits — Label and put into Memory Clothes bag if we wish to.
  • neutrals — Put in a marked box for Nina.
  • 7 or so “boy” pieces/outfits per type (jammies, dress clothes, play clothes, etc.) — Put into a marked box for Jack  Also, make a note to leave in the box of what we still might need for that age/stage.
  • remainder — Pass on to friends and family who may need them.  Freecycle some as a thank you to those Freecyclers who have generously given to us.  Donate some to our Church Thrift Shop, St. Vincent De Paul, Big Brother Big Sister, Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles or similar organizations.  If family budget is too much “in the red” and specific clothing (child care or learning) items are needed “now”, yard sale, post on Craig’s List and/or consign some items to make money to flesh out current wardrobe (and play and learning supplies).

Sort Nina’s clothing into the following categories:

  • stained, ripped, etc. clothes — Set aside one fall/winter outfit for a scarecrow.  Then, offer the rest on Freecycle as play clothes/craft materials.  If there are no takers, donate the rest to St. Vincent De Paul as rags.
  • 2-3 favorite outfits — Label and put into Memory Clothes bag if we wish.
  • neutralsPut into a marked box for Jack.
  • 7 or so girlie pieces/outfits per type (jammies, dress clothes, play clothes, etc.) — Put into a marked box for Maybe Baby (not that we are planning more, but we need to pray and talk a bit more at this point before making any “final” decisions, which we are well aware will only be truly “final” with God’s seal of approval).  Also, make a note to leave in the box of what we still might need for that age/stage.
  • remainder — Pass on to friends and family who may need them.  Freecycle some as a thank you to those Freecyclers who have generously given to us.  Donate some to our Church Thrift Shop, St. Vincent De Paul, Big Brother Big Sister, Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles or similar organizations.  If family budget is too much “in the red” and specific clothing (child care or learning) items are needed “now”, yard sale, post on Craig’s List and/or consign some items to make money to flesh out current wardrobe (and play and learning supplies).

Sort Jack’s clothing into the following categories:

  • stained, ripped, etc. clothes — Set aside one fall/winter outfit for a scarecrow.  Then, offer the rest on Freecycle as play clothes/craft materials.  If there are no takers, donate the rest to St. Vincent De Paul as rags.
  • 2-3 favorite outfits — Label and put into Memory Clothes bag if we wish to.
  • neutrals and 7 or so pieces/outfits per type (jammies, dress clothes, play clothes, etc.) — Put into a marked box for Maybe Baby.  Also, make a note to leave in the box of what we still might need for that age/stage.
  • remainder — Pass on to friends and family who may need them.  Freecycle some as a thank you to those Freecyclers who have generously given to us.  Donate some to our Church Thrift Shop, St. Vincent De Paul, Big Brother Big Sister, Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles or similar organizations.  If family budget is too much “in the red” and specific clothing (child care or learning) items are needed “now”, yard sale, post on Craig’s List and/or consign some items to make money to flesh out current wardrobe (and play and learning supplies).

And, how about that Clothing Inventory mentioned in the above Plans?  Well, it is still a work-in-progress and, unfortunately, it may be a bit reflective of my leftover hoarder-tendencies.  (I think I should cut back on numbers of specific items even more, especially as we attempt to fit three children’s wardrobes into one small bedroom in the coming year!)  But, at least, it provides some limits so that when I am having a difficult time purging perfectly wearable, good quality, cute, free clothing, I can look to it to keep myself (and the kids’ clothes!) in check.  The first part is the graphic at the top of this post.  The other two parts are below.  You should be able to click on any of them to get larger, printable versions.  Or, if you want a copy in Word to adjust to your own needs, simply leave a comment and I will email you one.

Of course, as I put all of these plans into action, I also try to remember:

God provides.

Do not store up too much.  If someone is expressly in need, be generous!

And so, with “paper brain” in hand, I successfully attended to our kids’ clothing management project as part of the Just One Thing Challenge and continue to as new hand-me-downs come in.  All the while, I pray for discipline to stick to the plan and seek strength (yes, for me it is an effort!) not to “store up” more than what we need for this season and the ones to come soon.

works for me wednesday at we are that familyFinally, one kind commenter on my last post already shared a great thought for clothing management – which I would love to follow if only I had the room in our closets for bins!  I would be happy to hear how others approach seasonal clothing sorts, too.  Do you set limits for how many of each different type of clothing you will keep per child?  What are your strategies for having a wardrobe that works for your kids without causing closets to explode nor laundry to pile up?  What thrifty ways to you recycle, Freecycle and re-purpose clothing?  Any favorite places to purge or procure? Do share with a comment and, also, be sure to check out others’ Works for Me Wednesday thoughts at We Are THAT Family.  Thank you!

As always, if you want to read related posts here at Wonder and Will, use the links under Categories on the right sidebar, not the ones below, which will take you who knows where…

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Responses

  1. Oh, I do this too! It’s perfect for planning ahead and buying deals at garage sales, online, clearance, etc., without going overboard.

    I posted my plan here, and how I clothe my kids close to free: http://thesavedquarter.com/2010/03/16/clothing-kids-close-to-free/

  2. I would love to have a copy of these lists.

    Thanks!
    Joyce

    joyfulcreations 2 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    • They are on their way to you via email, Joyce! 🙂

  3. I would love a copy of your clothing inventory sheets e-mailed! This was exactly what I was looking for I get overwhelmed with clothes that are given or I pickup at garage sales along with gifts etc. I’m ready to cut back and focus more on what we need and keeping it simple. I’m expecting my third so would really like to cut back the time organizing clothes!

  4. That girl’s list would be great. I’m going to a consignment sale this weekend, and need to be sure to only buy what I need. Thanks a lot!

    • I am happy to send it. Look for it in your email. I have been sending them to folks who ask who have trouble simple printing them from the post. Blessings!

  5. I totally felt the insanity this year during back-to-school shopping!! I think I was on the road to different stores all day for a couple of weeks a least! My kids probably learned a few new words during that experience that I hope they don’t decide to use at school:)

    4 steps that I have found helpful to avoid “the gape” (my kids clothing not fitting right and tightening the adjustable elastic until it won’t adjust any longer) :

    1. Click on http://www.sizetracker.com (the experts on kids clothing size calculation)

    2. Make my free profile

    3. Use size calculator

    4. Shop for my kids clothes

    I would love to see more and more clothing brands available there! Totally helps my sanity!

  6. Mike and Martianne, these clothing inventory sheets are fantastic! And we really appreciate the mention from the commenter above. Parents will always do the heavy lifting when in comes to kids clothing organization; SizeTracker just helps find the right sizes, project future size needs, and figure out when kids will grow into hand-me-downs.

    Please let me know if you’d be willing to share this post as a guest post on the SizeTracker Blog.
    Thanks,
    Stormy

  7. oh thank you so much! this is exactly what i had hoped to find. could you please email me a copy? i printed one but it comes out blurry and too small.

    bless you and your paper brain. thank you for being the exact resource i need right now. and happy new year!

    jane

  8. i remember you sending me an email that your word files were not available back when i commented above. is that all sorted out now?

  9. I’m trying to manage clothing for my 10 month old daughter and also store clothing from my 14 month old niece when she goes overseas with her family, so I would love an emailed copy of your paper brain (love the name, btw!).

    Right now I have three boxes in my front room that are full of clothes from my SIL, one to use & two to store. I have been dreading opening them, even as my daughter is growing out of the clothes we have already. Having a list would truely help me organize things, and also pare down what we keep so it doesn’t over run our attic.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Jackie


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