It all started with the laundry. Isn’t that always how it works? One little moment of frustration leads to a whole change in the way you think and that leads to a massive project. About a month ago I went to put away the little kids’ laundry and couldn’t find a hanger because their closet was so full. It was ridiculous and I was fed up. In a fit of “ohmygosh, these kids don’t need all this crap” I pulled every single item out of their closet. I was flinging things right and left while the two little kids stood there with mouths hanging open. Matt called it Laundry Gate ’15. For the record, I do not recommend this method of closet clean out. While it felt great in the moment I still had to clean it all back up again. And so the great closet clean out of 2015 began.
I sorted everything into like piles (tops, shorts, leggings, etc) and then made the kids try on everything I wasn’t sure about. I found at least 12 tops in Zoey’s pile that haven’t fit her in at least a year. So why were they still in the closet taking up valuable space? I know why. Because there was entirely too much in the closet. Mase had 4 plain blue tee’s all in the same size. I bought him the same pair of shorts twice because I didn’t remember buying the first pair. Insanity. I was ruthless in getting rid of stuff. We’re lucky enough to have people to give our hand-me-down clothes to- my nephew and a family friend with a little girl. So I don’t feel bad about clearing out stuff.
Now that the closet is totally cleaned out and we’ve paired down the little kids’ wardrobes I have made some ground rules for myself to hopefully avoid a repeat of Laundry Gate ’15 in the future.
1. Buy bottoms that will match any tops. Now that doesn’t have to mean gray or khaki. Zoey has a lot of tops with pink in the design so pink shorts work great for her wardrobe. Mase has a lot of tops with red in the design so red shorts work well for him. They both have khaki, navy, gray, denim, black, etc. Added bonus- it’s easier for them to dress themselves!
2. Limit high maintenance clothing. I got rid of anything that needed to be ironed, or hand washed, or dry cleaned, or was too fussy for everyday wear. We don’t go anywhere fancy so why did Zoey need 5 fancy frilly dresses in her closet? She didn’t. I know myself well enough to accept that I’m not going to break out the iron for a 4 year old’s shirt so there’s no point in keeping it. Now when I shop I really look at the item and decide if it’s going to be wash and wear before I buy it.
3. Only keep what you need for a week or so. Zoey had 28 bottoms in her closet. 28 y’all. She’s 4. Now I didn’t buy all of that- that number was comprised of hand-me-down’s from Maliah and a good friend with a daughter a size ahead of Zoey. I only bought maybe 4 of those. Still- 28 was an unmanageable number. So I paired it down to a more reasonable number. She has a handful of “nice” shorts, several pair of play shorts, a couple of skirts, and a handful of fun capri leggings that she loves.
4. Separate play clothes. I didn’t include play clothes in the capsule wardrobe. My kids are messy and they like to play outside and get even messier. I keep a stack of play shirts and play shorts folded on a shelf for them to wear. They know which clothes are play clothes and they can grab them easily.
5. Keep a running list of what they need. I have a list on my phone of exactly what my kids need so when I’m out shopping and see a great sale I don’t end up bringing home 5 tee’s when Zoey already has 10 in her closet. When I see an item come out of the laundry ripped or stained I check to see if it needs to be replaced and if so, I add it to the list. Then I wait for a sale.
6. Keep up with purging the closet. I now keep an empty basket in the bottom of the little kids’ closet and every time I do laundry I sort. If I see something that didn’t quite fit when I did laundry then it gets put in the basket. If I notice that there’s an item that one of the kids just doesn’t wear then I pull it out. When the basket gets full I bag up the clothes and drop them off for my sister or our family friend. It cuts down on clutter and the kids don’t pull out old stuff that they just “love”.
My goal is for the kids to have a functional, mix-and-match, easy care wardrobe. We lay out clothes for the next day as part of our bedtime routine so having less choices is always better. I’ve been using this system for a couple of months now and it’s working out great. The kids are dressing themselves (in matching pieces) and the laundry is so much easier now! I highly recommend pairing down your kids clothes into a smaller, more manageable, mix and match wardrobe. It’ll make your life easier!