It is so easy to accumulate mountains of children’s clothes. Here are some ideas for keeping that mountain manageable and decluttering kids clothes the easy way. There is no need to turn out every drawer and box, you can add a few things to a donation box every day instead. Decluttering gently will make a big difference in a short amount of time with no stress.
Make it easy for yourself
Keep a box near your kids clothes cupboard for items you no longer want. If you find something that doesn’t fit or isn’t quite right just pop it in the box. This will save you time sorting things out later and it will bring the item out of circulation, so you won’t waste time and energy washing it. You can keep another box or bag for items that are not worth donating or selling, some charity shops will take them as clean rags, some areas will collect them with the recycling. If you are thinking about selling the clothes on it can help to sell them in bundles. It saves time if you save up a batch to sell too.
Deal with the easy stuff first
As you put your childs clothes away ask yourself:
- • Does it need mending?
- • Is it too small?
- • Is it so big they won’t grow into it for years?
- • Is it badly stained?
- • Does my child like wearing it?
- • Does it feel nice?
- • Is it a hassle to wash/fasten/store
If it needs mending and you honestly have time to fix it, then pop it in your mending basket. If you won’t ever have the time then give it a chance to live on with someone else and donate it. Anything with a stain that you cannot get rid of can go into the rag-bag or be used as dusters. Just like kids artwork it is easier to get rid of things sooner rather than later. Leave it a month and you may get a bit nostalgic about your kids clothes and find it harder to let them go.
What do you use most?
Although he had loads of clothes, as a toddler my son wore two outfits, sometimes at the same time! They were his Spiderman outfit and his pyjamas. He once wore a Hawaiian shirt to a wedding but I’m pretty sure that was over pyjamas too. All the other dungarees, trousers, tops, jumpers and hoodies sat in the drawers doing nothing for months. If you have a child who self restricts their wardrobe and you are fine about it, you might be able to get rid of a few things that are never going to be worn.
What do you use during the week? Does your child have a school uniform? Other uniforms for any groups like Cubs or Brownies? Do you do any sporty or outdoor things that need special clothes? If you just keep an eye on what you use for one week it will help you work out what you need to keep and what is just taking up space.
Kids are messy little noodles so it does not hurt to keep spares, but you don’t need loads of spares!
What can you re-use?
If you are lucky, you might find that some of your clothes are made to grow with your child. If it is just a simple matter of letting a hem down so you get another few months out of a garment then do it as soon as you can. The longer you leave it, the less likely you are to do it. Sweatshirts that get too short can be turned into little jackets, and short trousers can be cut into shorts very easily. You might not even need to hem them if the fabric doesn’t fray. Pinterest is a brilliant place to look for upcycling ideas though the distraction risk is high!
Put seasonal stuff away
What will the weather be like for the next month or so? Do you need to keep rain protection at hand all year round? Sun hats? Gloves? You probably won’t need a snow suit in the summer or a wetsuit in the winter. Find a drawer or a place to put out of season stuff until you need it. If you are sure it won’t fit in 6 months time then you can get rid of it. I’m generally wary of getting rid of things out of season because I forget what I will need but there is no point keeping things that no one will fit into.
Saving baby clothes for the next one
It can be hard to say goodbye to the tiny clothes of a newborn. It can also be hard having a bundle of tiny clothes nagging you to have another baby. You can employ a bit of damage limitation here and keep just a few things. I have kept my sons first shoes, a small babygrow and a tiny cardi. One day I’ll be able to get them out in front of his friends and brutally embarrass him, but for now they are enough to remind me that this hulking great teenager grew out of a small burbling thing. I don’t need bags of outgrown baby clothes hanging around, he wouldn’t thank me for saving them for him to use later on in life. If you are thinking of having more kids remember that while you are keeping baby clothes in storage, other people are needing them. Baby basics are not hard to find in charity shops, people with older babies will be begging you to take them away. If you want to keep things in case then store the better quality stuff, the very sentimental or the impossible to replace. It is ok to keep things if you want to just because they make you happy, but if they make you sad, consider getting them out of your home.
Stuff you cannot bear to part with
There is nothing wrong with keeping things that remind you of your children, nothing wrong with it at all. However, if you are short of space, or if you are keeping piles of old babygrows you might need to prune your collection a little. Out of a pile of items just choose the very best to keep, not just the best in quality, but the best in value for memories. If you are at all crafty you could think about turning your kids cast offs into a patchwork blanket or a teddy bear. There are people who will do this for you; Etsy is worth a look, search for “baby blanket bear” or “memory quilt”to find someone to turn the old clothes into something useful. You can get deep frames that hold baby shoes and first outfits to display them. You might find that photos bring back the good memories as well as the actual clothes. Whatever you decide to keep make sure it is making you happy. If a pair of little shoes makes you feel sad for more babies you might have had is it worth keeping them? Remember to be kind to yourself, declutter the sentimental stuff in your own time, at your own pace and reward yourself frequently. It can be a tough job.
Make it easier in the future
Pause a little before you buy something new to wear for your children. Consider these questions before handing over money or accepting hand me downs:
- • Do you really need it?
- • Will it be useful?
- • Will it fill a gap in their wardrobe?
- • Will it be easy to care for?
- • Is it well made?
If you stop bringing new kids clothes into your home will make it easier for you to control what you already have. When you get into the habit of decluttering as you go along you will find the whole process much less daunting. There are loads of tips and hints for more gentle decluttering at www.less-stuff.co.uk
Lisa Cole is an author and blogger at www.less-stuff.co.uk. She lives in Bristol with her teenage son and too many cats.
Her book “From Piles to Files, Easy ways to sort out your paperwork in 5 days or less” is available on Amazon.
A guest post by Lisa Cole of www.less-stuff.co.uk