Here on the farm the seasons are very distinct. We have short hot summers, and long cold winters. This means that we really have very little overlap between our summer and winter clothing. Add to this the distance we need to travel to get clothes for the kids, and it becomes easier to do a twice yearly big clothing sort out and cull. A few weeks back I posted on my facebook page that I was about to start the semi-annual sort out, and several people asked how I do it. So here are my tips and tricks for sorting kids clothing.
Give kids advanced warning
If your kids are anything like mine, being told in the morning that they are going to spend several hours of their day going through their clothes will be highly unpopular. I always give the kids a few days warning. This year they had a whole week. They still were not super thrilled, but they knew it was coming and so were cooperative.
Start with the biggest child and work your way down.
I always start with Hannah, followed by Meg, and then Toby. This is particularly important if you have several children of the same gender because it means that any clothes that no longer fit the eldest, may now fit the next one down. This saves time because you do not need to go back and forward between kids.
I also only do one child at a time, mainly because I can’t keep track of everything when they are in there together.
Store hand me downs by size and gender to make things easier.
It really is worth sorting and storing all your hand-me-down clothing by size and gender because it makes it easier to find the clothing you are looking for later. Whenever I am given a bag of clothing for the kids, I go through it, cull anything I know we will not use, and store the rest in one of the skubb containers (from Ikea) where I keep the clothes. I have a small box just for school clothing, and then one box for each child to grow into. So Hannah’s box is mostly size 12 clothing, while Meg’s contains size 8, and Toby’s; size 5 and 6.
Be honest and ruthless with yourself and your child – in the nicest possible way!
If there are stains and holes, or the item is getting small and tight, get rid of it. Even if it is your favourite outfit ever! Keeping items that are worn out or unusable takes up valuable cupboard space.
If your kids won’t wear it, don’t keep it.
Fashions change, and the jeans that were cool five years ago can be ultra daggy now. Although we had several pairs of jeans that were in good condition, both Hannah and Meg said that they didn’t like them and wouldn’t wear them (apparently they looked like Elvis pants – they were boot leg jeans). In cases like this, I just cull them. I don’t need clothes they hate (and won’t wear) clogging up their wardrobe and causing disagreements, no matter how good a condition they are in.
Work out how much of each item of clothing you want your kids to have in advance
How much of each clothing item you need really will depend on your lifestyle. On the farm they need two or three goodish outfits, and the rest can be paddock clothes. They all need two coats – a good one and a paddock one. Clearly if you live somewhere tropical and in the city, your needs will be different. Be realistic (this post can help you too) and avoid too many outfits, but at the same time make sure you have what you need!
Just last week, while we were going through Hannah’s box, we discovered 13 hoodies. Now that is way too many, so we picked out her favourite ones, and donated the rest. Again, just because you have been given 13 hoodies, doesn’t mean you need to keep them all. Make a list of what you need after you have finished sorting and culling.
Once you have gone through all the clothing in the wardrobes and stored to grow into, cross off everything on the list that you have. Whatever is still on the list is what you need to source. For us this means a trip to a good Op Shop, followed by a trip to the shopping centre to get these things.
Sort your leftovers
Once you have gone through all the clothes, it is worth going through all your leftover clothing and dividing them up. I usually put together a bag for my sister with clothes for her daughter and younger son, but at the same time I’m picky and don’t send her worn out socks or leggings with holes on the bottom. I put these in a separate bag and put them in a donation bin for a charity which sells industrial rags. If they are really bad, I often just turf them straight into the bin.
A note – we use a lot of hand-me-down and second hand clothing – both for cost and ethical reasons. Because of this, we always have a box or two of clothing stored away ready for the kids to grow into. If you don’t have hand me downs, or don’t use second hand clothing, you can still use these tips, but your list of clothing that you need to purchase will probably be a lot bigger.
Today we are off to town to visit the op shop and the mall. It will be long day but by the end we will (hopefully) be ready for winter.
How do you keep on top of kid’s wardrobes? Share your tips please!