17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Management of Clothes

Managing my son's clothes is quite the task. I'm looking for advice. Changing seasons and sizes almost puts me over the edge.Every brand has different sizing making it especially difficult to put things in storage. Right now I have things boxed by pj's, onesies, outfits, pants and shirts for 0-6 months and 6-12 months. The problem is, what about that 4-6M sweater that fit my son when he was 11 months old? Where should that go? What if the next child fits into it when he is 3 months old?

Then there's the whole seasonal drama - do I store by season? Season and Size? Throw everything into one box and see what fits if and when I ever have another boy? And I only have one child. I can't imagine how I am going to do this with multiples. And throw a different sex onto that? Yipers. I need a system.

So I'm coming here looking for ideas on how to manage childrens closets. (Toys and books and bedding is a monster for a different post). Advise away people!


  • Well with clothing, I've done it by size on the tag and by sex, since I have one of each and just had another boy. So we have several boxes, and I usually get two sizes of clothes out at a time, so right now I have newborn/0-3 months out and in a different draw I have 3-6 months out. And if something fits longer I just keep it out instead of putting it away with the other stuff. You just never know with brands and kids how long things will fit. If things run small in your opinion I'd put it with the size smaller. I just get those big rubbermaid boxes and put as much in there as I can and then right the sizes that are in there. So that is what I've done.
    When it comes to toys we go through them every few months and dejunk. When your kids get old enough for "kids meal" you'll get a collection of toys like that. So when we go through the toys we usually have a few we can throw out, or give to the DI and let someone else appreciate them. And when it comes to good toys I want to keep for the younger ones, that have just been outgrown, we store them somewhere and get them out later. I'd do the same with books. We have the ones they read more often one place and the ones we don't read so often some where else. I hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck.
    posted by Blogger Erin at 11/01/2007 11:01:00 AM  

  • Has anyone used those storage bags that you collapse by vacuum? I'm wondering if those are an effective way to store kids clothes in small spaces.
    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 11/01/2007 11:05:00 AM  

  • It's all about the Rubbermaid totes, and no I don't organize anything, except by gender.

    About once a month I go through EVERYTHING and if I don't passionately love something I send it to goodwill, post it on Craigslist, send it to a friend/family member who is preggers, or cut it up and throw it in my 'dust the base of the toilet with this' bin. I do the same for toys, (except, of course clean the toilet).

    I may be extreme but it keeps the house much cleaner, and the kids and I really don't miss the stuff. BTW, we are 'grad-student' poor, and I completely understand not wanting to have to re-buy stuff. I find that if I really need a certain piece I can usually find it at garage sales, thrift stores, or (my favorite) Target on a great sale.

    Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous Tally Girl at 11/01/2007 11:37:00 AM  

  • I've tried the Space Bags - ie: stuff them full and collapse with a vacuum cleaner - and found them to be cumbersome, difficult to fill, and junky. Out of a 3-pack, 1 ripped, and 1 didn't stay vacuum-compressed. The plastic isn't great quality, and they aren't worth the expense. Ziploc XL bags work well, even though they don't flatten down too much. I've found, though, you can't beat good 'ol clear Rubbermaid boxes.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/01/2007 12:27:00 PM  

  • I have 3 kids, 2 girls and a boy.
    I have bins that are all the same style and stackable. I store by year and gender. infant boy, 12 months girl, 2 year old girl, etc. I use space bags (they work for me) inside each tote, so I can stuff more in. If I have a tote with more than one size I label the space bags inside. Then I label each bin on the outside so I know what is hiding in there. I store stuff by how it fits not the size on the tag.
    I rarely store shoes, because past a certain size they are too bulky and they always seem to be in the wrong season when they fit someone else.
    When something is too small and I am not ready to haul out the bins, I throw it into a sack to await its fate.
    I wish I didn't care about saving anything and could afford to just chuck it all in the good will truck, but until then...I save, store and stack.

    good luck
    posted by Blogger theabby at 11/01/2007 04:03:00 PM  

  • Sorting before the first kid is hard, because as you say, the sizes don't always match from one brand to another (I have one 3-6 month shirt that fit both my boys at about 16-18 months). After that, though, I put them away by sizes as the kid grows out of them. Then the smallest ones (the ones they grew out of first) are all together, and so on. I keep them in clear plastic bins in the closet. Definitely get bins that are all the same style and stackable. Clear is key for me, since then I when I need to find the next set (I have a 2.5 yo and a 16mo, so things go in and back out) I can just look and see what's in them. It hasn't been long enough that I don't remember which clothes are which sizes (at least in general).

    With the clothes I have that my older one hasn't grown into yet (all his clothes are hand-me-downs from a friend), I forget the tags entirely, and just hold them up to each other to sort them. I get out a shirt and some pants that fit him well now, and then sort the new clothes into three piles -- "about the size he's in now", "bigger than what he's in now", and "WAY bigger than what he's in now".

    If there's only enough of one size to fit in one bin (this happens with the little baby stuff), I don't sort by season/type. Otherwise I do. Like maybe long sleeve shirts, sweaters, and sleepers all in one bin (or whatever fits well). Oh, and I use 18qt bins. That size works the best for me. Right now I have 10-12 in the closet.

    Another great thing to do with the clothes is pass them off to someone else who's having a baby. I didn't do this between the first two, since they were pretty close together and both boys. But now I put everything that the younger one outgrows in a box, and when it's full I ship it to my sis, who has a 3mo boy. After all, someone else was nice enough to pass it all on to me, and I want to pass on the blessing. Of course, now that I'm pregnant again I might have to have her ship it back when she's done with it. We'll wait and see if the next one's going to be a boy, though.
    posted by Anonymous Vada at 11/01/2007 08:41:00 PM  

  • I'm a lot like tally girl. I've got about 6 Rubbermaid totes that are stacked on my porch and I just organize them by gender. A lot of the same size stuff ends up together anyway. When I found out I was pregnant with a boy (my oldest is a girl) I got rid of a bunch of girl stuff to make room for the boy stuff. And then when a friend needed some girl clothes I got rid of some more that I wasn't "in love" with. We are grad students so money is tight, but space is even tighter and I can't stand having my tiny apartment crammed full of clothes. Other people have the need to have it more organized, but I would never be able to do it perfectly because of lack of space, so it's better for me to just have them all in one big bin.
    posted by Blogger Ash at 11/01/2007 09:31:00 PM  

  • Biggest mistake I made: I kept everything.
    Best decision: Got rid of it all.

    Well, I didn't get rid of everything, but I honestly took about 24 garbage bags full of clothes to DI when we packed up to move last spring.
    I have 2 girls and 2 boys. The girls' stuff was taking up a lot of room and the boys' stuff was more needed (my youngest had just been born), so most of the girls' stuff went. I may have another girl in the future, but I decided that I didn't want to pack around a bunch of clothes "just in case".
    The relief was immense!
    Anyway, I also do the one box/bin for girls and one for boys. It may not be as organized, but it works.

    Toys --I also de-junk every few months. However, I finally gave into the rotation of the toys. It's been great!! Clean-up time is nothing, and every time a new bin comes out, it's "WOW! We have new toys!" because they forgot.

    Books--I'm still thinking on that one...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 11/02/2007 12:03:00 PM  

  • I know Design Mom tackled this question and I loved her ideas...I will try and find the link and post it....
    posted by Blogger Jen at 11/02/2007 12:13:00 PM  

  • I file by the "true" size - essentially everything that fits when they are 12 mos is boxed together, regardless of that the tage says, etc. - and by season.
    I keep a box in the closet for things that are too small - they get tossed in there when they no longer fit. Things that are the next size UP are in shelves in the closet. Twice a year (when it starts getting hot or cold), I go through the closet & drawers and box up everything that is already too small or likely to be too small for that weather next year. Boxes of too small clothes go up in the attic and the next size up comes down.
    Sounds more complicated than it is.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/02/2007 01:11:00 PM  

  • I am not a clothes saver, they take up sooooo much space. I am expecting #4 and even if I had chosen to save everything, I would not have been able to pass much on. Where one is a girl, the next is a boy, where one is fall the next is spring, one is slender, the other wears regular.... it goes on and on. I do save things that are in good condition and gender neutral like jeans, things that are expensive like winter jackets and things that are very unique. Also it is easier to save clothing once it is 2T or larger since seasons are no longer an issue. All of that fits in big tub.
    So I have to say ditto to the idea to find someone who needs it and pass it on. Cast your bread upon the waters...and it will come back as sandwiches.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/02/2007 03:29:00 PM  

  • cheryl- I love that advice. I had at least 10 big bins of clothes that I have saved 5 plus years "just in case" that I recently looked through and wondered, "Why in the heck did I save this?" I saved my absolute favorite outfits that my kids wore and give the rest to my sisters who need it or DI. Some of it I sold at a used children's store and made extra money- which is always great. It is a relief to have that space back!
    posted by Blogger LJ at 11/02/2007 08:04:00 PM  

  • My system: Every few months, I go through the closet/dresser, pull out the clothes that no longer fit (I ignore the size on the tag), and bag or box it up. If I know someone that could use that size of clothes, then I pull out some stuff to give away. I also use the clear Rubbermaid totes. Basics and special outfits are always good to keep, along with jackets, hats, etc. But the shoes are almost never worth keeping. My pediatrician said unless you are dirt poor, never use hand-me-down shoes because they are already molded to someone else's foot. The exception would be girls dress shoes (which are hardly ever worn). Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous amy at 11/03/2007 05:41:00 AM  

  • I have 2 girls that are 9.5 years apart and a son in the middle. My son gets all his stuff new or from thrift stores. Then when he outgrows it I sell it or give it away. His stuff is easy.

    Now when my son was born I got rid of all my girl stuff from the 1st one. (We were only going to have 2 kids, oops!) So I didn't start saving girl stuff again until my youngest born. Since they are so far apart in age, I really have to consider style changes. I only keep the basics: plain jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, dress clothes. Anything totally trendy goes up for sale or is given away. I sort by season and size.

    I'm very lucky to have a couple friends that love to get hand-me-downs from my kids. I can't stand people that think their kids are too good for hand-me-downs.
    posted by Blogger Sexy Housewife at 11/03/2007 04:52:00 PM  

  • I have a girl (3 yr) and a boy (11 mos.) plus I love to pre-buy clothes for my kids and did before I even had kids (weird, I know but it has saved a ton of money for us since we are now a one income family). Anyway, I sort in bins also by size and gender. I go by the size of the clothes unless the item fits small - each child could be built differently and fit in clothes early/later. I go through their clothes and the upcoming bins about every 3-6 months and organize and clean everything out. I do throw away anything stained, usually pjs since they get worn so much, and most shoes. Each bin is labeled with gender and size on the outside so I can easily see what each bin is. Like others, I have a shopping bag with clothes to be stored (either new stuff or outgrown stuff) in our office. Also at the beginning of each season I go through their clothes and decide what each child needs for that season and write a list that I carry with me when I am shopping - this has been helpful in curtailing my shopping binges and also for not doubling up on stuff I already have. I am not so good about giving away clothes as we are not sure we are done having kids yet.
    As a side note...I have to say that I pre-bought clothes back in 2000 (when we started trying to have kids) that my daughter wears and people always ask where I got them. It has been interesting to see the colors for kids clothes remain about the same over the years. Honestly, most good quality clothes bought could be reused years down the road for most babies and toddlers/preschoolers. After 5 or so, I think each child will have their own personal style. Just my two cents on the whole pre-buying thing.
    Anyway as for toys, we are going to invest in a closet organizer system in our playroom from the Container Store or Ikea to keep the toys organized and in their place. Also every two weeks I go through the toys (quickly) and assess if any toys are missing pieces and generally organize the toys into bins.
    posted by Blogger Elise at 11/03/2007 11:50:00 PM  

  • Thanks for sharing all of the great ideas.

    While the thought of just getting rid of everything is enticing, I don't think I am quite there. Things that I'm not attached to I will give away and the pieces I want for my next boy, or my sister-in-laws boy, or my cousin or ANY boy I know - they will go into the "system". I have been the recipient of some awesome hand-me-downs so I can return the favor.

    Clear stackable bins seem to be popular. I got those and have organized things by true size. I have bags within separating onesies from shirts, pants from socks, etc.

    I'm not going to worry so much about season. It sounds like that complicates things too much. Plus, the climate I live in my son can wear short sleeves one day and a coat the next, so it is best to have it organized by size.

    I guess it really isn't that difficult, I was just feeling overwhelmed. Thanks for the advice!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 11/04/2007 09:59:00 PM  

  • I agree with the rest, I sort by size (I do mine by season too. . ."winter 2T", "summer 2T") another thing that helps is that I have a "future clothes" box, so if I buy things that I know they will be wearing in the next 6 mo-1 year, I can throw it in there, so if they're out of a pair of jeans, I can check that box.

    I also do a lot of bags (when things don't fit anymore they just go in a bag by the boxes), then every few months I can go through them.
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 11/06/2007 04:48:00 PM  

  • Future clothes box is a fabulous idea. I just keep them in their bags and forget about half of them. Thanks!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 11/06/2007 09:42:00 PM  

  • For future stuff I have a different strategy. I added an extra hanging shelf in the kids closets. So they have one rack at 42 inches that they can hang their own clothing on and a second higher one at 84 inches. I use the higher one to hang their clothes that I have purchased ahead at the end of season sales. If I am going to hand down clothing I just tranfer it to the other kid's rack. If it is not something they will be wearing the following size or season I store it in a different place. Twice a year when we change out the seasons we do a big swicharoo.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/07/2007 09:28:00 AM  

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