Taming the Clothes Monster

 We added a a beautiful baby girl to our family last May. My two oldest girls are 9 and 7 and my boys are 6 and 4.

After my first beautiful baby, I packed up all those precious clothes in banker’s boxes and put them away in the basement. It wasn’t long before I was dragging them out again. And packing them away again.

Then we were blessed with a son, and most of the clothes that I had packed away after baby two weren’t appropriate. (I couldn’t bring myself to dress him in anything with pink or flowers, even if no one else would see it!)

So suddenly I had a new baby wardrobe to pack away. My pile of boxes was quickly growing. I now had boxes for girls in sizes newborn to five, and boxes for boys in sizes newborn to 2. In addition, I also had a few unsorted boxes of clothes for both sexes that were too big, but I didn’t know what to do with them. I couldn’t figure out best how to sort and store the clothes that were soon going to be used. I had also noticed that some of the girl clothes that had been stored for a long time were stained and the elastics were crunchy.

Something was not right here.

“Charity gives itself rich; covetousness hoards itself poor” -German Proverb

Were these clothes really treasures to me?

Why exactly was I keeping them?

I didn’t know if there would be more babies. I had a rather tight clothing budget.

I couldn’t just give up all those clothes, I might need them. But honestly, they were consuming my time, my thoughts and my basement.

My good friend D mentionned, as I shared my woes, that we didn’t have any baby clothes or baby furniture in storage before baby #1 had arrived and we had managed just fine.

I ruminated over her advice and than began culling clothes. I tried to keep only those I loved seeing on my children. Even with that criteria I still had a good amount of clothes to store and I was having trouble sorting them all. The manufacturer’ sizing seemed useless. Something labelled a size six would not fit my four year old, but something else labelled a size six might fit my seven year old. So I designed a personal sizing sytem.

My Sizing System

Basically, all my clothes are measured with a flexible measuring tape, checked against a Childrens Clothing Size Guide that I created and then the new size is written on the tag with a permanent laundry marker. So now all the clothes within a certain measurement range are marked and stored together. This eliminates the confusion of varied sizing systems.

It took me about a three weeks to touch every single piece of clothing in my home, but I am so glad I did it. Not only did three garbage bags of clothes get culled, but the remaining ones have been so easy to sort and store.

Once labelled with a new size, clothes are stored in roughnecks. One size per roughneck, half girls, half boys. I keep mainly good clothes, as play clothes are easier to buy at the Good Will.

The new marking system has also made it easier for my husband and children to sort the existing clothes. Each one knows that anything marked 5 belongs to my youngest boy, 6 to the next , etc. No more adding X’s or dots to the tags. Having every piece of clothing marked with a consistent sizing system makes dealing with clothing so much easier. If I find a piece of clothing on the floor, or in a box, it’s simple to determine where it should be or who could wear it. My DH and kids can now sort and put away laundry easily, taking some of the load off of me.

When it seems like someone is running out of clothes, we pack up the existing size and unpack the newest.

Incoming unmarked clothes are put in a bin in the laundry room and sorted once a week. For each piece I spend 10 seconds with a measuring tape, my chart and a marker and then the item can be added into the rest of the clothes. Clothes that are too small are put in another special bin in the laundry room and either packed away in the appropriate roughneck or passed on.

Now, if I can just figure out what to do with the half-full laundry basket of unmatched socks I have!

Please feel free to share any of your laundry taming tips!