Category: Organizing

Taming the Clothes Monster

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!

Lessening the Laundry Load

Lessening the Laundry Load

There are seven people in my family. That adds up to a lot of clothes. Throw in towels, diapers, sheets, kitchen cloths, and a few extras and that adds up to a lot of laundry. A mountain of it in fact!

So here’s a few ideas I’ve used along the way to help lessen the load!

Limit the amount of laundry. For us, this has meant lessening the amount of clothes, towels and sheets.

Two sets of sheets per bed. This might even be too much, but with some still in diapers, I need the extras. One set is on the bed, the second set is in the bedroom closet.

One week worth of kitchen cloths and towels (seven of each). If I need more, I need to do more wash. I also have seven hand towels for the bathroom.

One bath sheet, one bath towel, and one swimming towel per person. These are stored on towel racks in their bedrooms. Swimming towels are stored in the laundry room area. I actually have my towels colour coded. It makes it easy to know who’s leaving wet towels lying around.

We also limit the number of clothes each person owns. The following is my clothing list. This is what I aim for. Most of the children do not have everything, and I ruthlessly try to weed out the extras. We live in a extreme climate, so we really do have two sets of seasonal clothes. (More about how to deal with clothing storage tomorrow.)

Childrens Clothing Size Guide

Play Clothes

5 t-shirts, 5 long sleeved t-shirts, 3 sweatshirts, 3 pants for girls or 5 for boys (min:1 pair jeans), 3 long shorts, 1 pair sweats, 1 pair long johns, 5 dresses or jumpers and 5 tights or leggings (girls only), 4 pj’s, 1 housecoat, 10 underwear, 10 socks, 5 pair knee length shorts, 1 bathing suit

Good Clothes

4 complete outfits for summer and 4 for winter, 1 good sweater

Outdoor Clothes

1 light jacket, 1 winter jacket, 1 rain coat, 1 pair splash pants, 1 hat, 2 pair mitts and 1 scarf, 1 wide brim summer hat


summer sandals, winter good shoes, running shoes, rubber boots, winter boots, slippers

Other Laundry Ideas:

My husband cut a hole in the floor of our ensuite which is right over the laundry area. Now it is easy to get clothes down to the laundry room. If we did not have this, I would give each person their own laundry hamper and it would be their responsibility to take their clothes down every night.

Down in the laundry room I have three baskets for sorting dirty clothes – lights, darks and others. This is a quick initial sort. When it’s time to do a load, I pick out a more specific load (like all the whites, or all the reds, or all the denims) and put it in the washing machine. Everything except sheets and towels is washed in cold water wash – it saves quite a bit on my natural gas bill.

Dried clothes are folded in the laundry area and sorted into personal dishpans – one per person. Each child is to fetch their clean laundry before breakfast and after supper and put it away. (My children start this, with help, at about 2.)

I try to put through four loads a day. (we call it a 4×4)

Truth be told, I never feel like I’m totally on top of laundry, but we generally have clean clothes and towels, and really that’s all I can ask for!

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Today was cleaning day.

Since the birth of my fifth blessing, I’ve had trouble get on top of things in my house. Nine months of a difficult pregnancy followed by a busy summer and an even busier fall, and things in my home just feel unbearable.

Last week a dear friend told me she felt the need to look after my children for an entire day – so I could focus on the house. I swallowed my pride and shame and dropped the children off early this morning.

Then a second dear friend offered to come and help me all day. I swallowed even more pride and shame and she arrived mid-morning. This dear sweet friend of mine went through my “stuff” loosely organizing it into piles on my dining room table. Then I sorted through the piles, filing, storing, and chucking.

We did the dining room and living room, which also serve as the pantry, computer room, school room, library, entertainment area, office, toy room and cloakroom.

It was a big job. A job I never would have gotten done on my own.

It was tough to accept help. I’m not sure why. We all need help.

I’m glad I had friends who offered. I’m glad I had the courage to accept.

Office Day

Office Day

Monday is my Office Day.

Today I will try to do the following:

– My Weekly Review (from Getting Things Done by David Allen)
– Work on the a daily schedule/routine/guideline
– The Budget
– Meal Planning – Firm up the master breakfast menu, start the lunch menu.
– Library requests with the children

That should be it for today. I want to time myself and see how long each item takes. That should help with scheduling.

All Around the Mulberry Bush

All Around the Mulberry Bush

Today is Around Town Day.

I look forward to this day because I get out of the house and get to see the real world. I also dread it because it can be difficult to remain cheerful while buckling and unbuckling five small children several times in a few hours. I so want for my children to see that I enjoy being with them, but sometimes it is so tiring and frustrating.

The constant flurry of getting in and out of the car.
The constant reminders of our Out and About Rules:

1. No yelling.
2. No running.
3. No climbing or riding on the cart (although you may ride in it, if size and space permits.)
4. No touching each other.
5. No touching the merchandise.
6. You must keep within eye contact of Mom at all times.
7. No asking for anything. (Why didn’t you go before we left? Not again?!)

The looks and comments we constantly generate becuase I have five children:

Is this a daycare? Are they all yours? You must be a busy lady. I don’t know how you do it. My two drive me crazy. (This in front of the “two”!)

They all wear me out and make for a frazzled, unhappy mommy. My children deserve so much better from me.

So for today I intend to focus on

– conveying how important my children are to me (more important than my errands)
– enjoying spending time with them (really, they will not be with me for long)
– encouraging them for how well behaved they really are (they really are great kids)
– extending grace to others when the looks and comments start
– being thankful for the abundance which allows me to run all these errands and make the purchases I need (both the necessary and “extras”)

So here’s to chasing the weasel!