Monday, December 5, 2011

Momma Goes Minimalist: 21 Frugal Tips and Recommendations for Downsizing Kids’ Closets


Today was the day! Laundry day! If only you could see my laundry room (Trust me this picture does not do it justice!). Somewhere, in the middle of the huge mount-o-clothes, I thought to myself, “Why on earth do these children have so many jeans and shirts?” And that was it…Momma went minimalist with the kids’ closets. I guess you could call it a breaking point of sorts (smile). It’s something I have wanted to do for a while and today I finally pulled the trigger.
I mean, it had to stop at some point! It’s simply not sustainable to continue collecting clothes. Call me crazy, but I would literally have anxiety just looking into my children’s closets. Even when I took the time to neatly fold and organize all the clothes (which wasn’t often), it still was overwhelming.
Here are a few ways I anticipate my life with less clothing to look like:
-Instead of constantly clean, folding, and putting away laundry, I’m going to have so much more time.
-Mornings will be way less stressful. With only a few items, it makes the choice of what to wear an easier one.
-Our closets will be easier to maintain, well-organized, and uncluttered. Enough said!
-Laundry days will be easier. Probably more frequent, with smaller loads, but definitely easier.
Why do we own so much?
This whole process today made me stop and think about the psychology behind why we own so many clothes. I think most of us have bought into the lie of society that says “more is better”. And because of this, we seek to hoard more and more and more articles of clothing each new season. We’ve bought into the big sales gimmick. Somehow they have convinced us that the newest clothes with make us happier, definitely more fashionable and way more popular among our peers. And the saddest thing is…I found myself subconsciously teaching this to my children!
Although not true for everyone, it seems as though many of our clothing choices are strongly tied to our identities. The need to consume things, to stay on top of the latest fashions, or to buy things just because they were cheap says few things positive about our identities, doesn’t it?

Let’s consider taking a different route with our lives and setting a different example for our children. I’m going to try owning fewer clothes! Will you join me in experiencing this freedom? You may be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
Here are a few practical steps that lead me to this point:
1.  I had to admit that we had too much! And boy was that easy (smile).
2.  There was a determination that clothing does not define my husband, my children, or myself. Our character defines us, and sometimes clothing actually gets in the way of that!
3.  We set, and committed to, a monthly budget for clothing purchases.
4.   I decreased shopping trips and stopped purchasing clothes just because they were on sale.
5.   Discussions began with the children regarding the importance of focusing on internal beauty rather than the external.
And here are the established rules we agreed on!
Everyone was able to choose:
·        5 pairs of jeans, pants, skirts, or leggings
·        7 tops (and 2 dresses a piece for the girls)
·        1 hoodie/sweatshirt
·        1 coat
·        1 lightweight rain jacket
·        2 pairs of pajamas
·        1 pair of gym/tennis shoes, 1 pair of boots, and 1 pair of shoes of choice

We will wear jeans, pants, and pajamas for 3 days or until visibly soiled. And what about buying something new? That’s okay…you just have to be willing to give away, discard, or recycle something you already have; out with the old, in with the new. This way the amount of clothing is always maintained and it will really makes us question how badly we need/want that extra pair of jeans, leggings, dress, skirt, T-shirt, or…
A few things you may want to know about our family:
-We homeschool. I’ve heard people say, “It’s easier for you to do this because your children are homeschooled." Maybe so, but does that mean you can’t do it if your children go to public school? Absolutely not! These principles still apply.
-My children and 10, 6, and 2. Yes this is possible, even with small children and even with teens! What a great lesson for them to learn now! Granted infants are a different story, but it’s still worth your time to evaluate their stuff too.
-I hang my clothes to dry…indoors. Thanks to the HOA in our current suburban neighborhood we are not allowed a clothes line (Don’t ask! I don’t know either!). I do have a retractable one in the garage and several collapsible drying racks in the laundry room. We also live in arid Arizona where our clothes literally dry within hours of hanging. We’re looking at more frequent, smaller loads of laundry so we’ll see how this goes!
 -I love hand-me-downs and I do save my eldest daughter’s clothes for her younger sister. In fact, to be completely honest, I have packed all the clothes away into a couple tubs in the garage should the need arise and we become desperate for additional items. Something tells me…we won’t be missing them (wink).
So what do you think? Can you do it? Do you want to do it? Share your thoughts with us!
WARNING: There is a danger here to read what I am doing and assume that you have to do it “just like her.” No, please! That is not my intention (smile). This is just a challenge for my family. If you choose to walk down this road, consider your family’s own unique needs and shape your path around those. I am by no means an expert on this topic! My sole purpose in sharing this with you is accountability.  

See this post and a host of others like it here: Fat Tuesday, New Nostalgia, Tip Me Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Terrific Under $10, Raising Homemakers, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, Creative Juice Thursday, Friday Favorites, Farmgirl Friday, Frugal Friday, Gallery of Favorites, SNS 111, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Show and Tell, Get Schooled, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Made By You, Just Something I Whipped Up

Inspirational source that started me on this journey:
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/2010/07/05/a-practical-guide-to-owning-fewer-clothes/comment-page-1/#comments

39 Comments:

At December 5, 2011 at 7:07 PM , Anonymous Jill@ RealFoodForager.com said...

Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
http://realfoodforager.com/2011/12/fat-tuesday-december-6-2011/

 
At December 5, 2011 at 10:23 PM , Blogger Amy G said...

It's definitely do-able. My family just did this (sort of by force) when we moved from Chicago to South Korea a few months ago. Airline luggage allowance was 2 suitcases per person for me, my husband, and our then-2.5 year-old son. In other words, we moved our entire lives across the ocean in 6 suitcases. Needless to say there was a lot of soul-searching over which clothing and shoes were coming with us. Our total piece count was a bit higher because both Chicago and Seoul have climates that require everything from tank tops to snow boots. Also, we converted to line-drying only, also by force, since there are no dryers here. It's a bit of a challenge, sometimes taking multiple days to dry, thanks to weather conditions that are simultaneously chilly and humid. Fortunately, it's cultural and laundry-drying porch rooms are built right in to each apartment here. In general, I'm loving the lower volume of clothing, the reduced energy usage, and the value that we're placing on those clothing items that did make the cut!

 
At December 6, 2011 at 4:01 AM , Anonymous Nichole's Modern Homestead said...

My husband and I were just talking about having too many clothes! We will be going though our laundry very soon too!

 
At December 6, 2011 at 7:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you. Two kids/two parents. I do laundry once a week, never in between, 4-7 loads depending upon season and whether I'm doing sheets and towels that week. Clothes are folded on a bed so they get put away the same day. We have a few more clothes than you describe, but teenage daughter, for example, only has 3 school jeans and 1 weekend/work jeans. She has more shirts, but they get hung up between wearings. All clothes can be worn numerous times before needing to be washed, unless they're on a kid at that stage where everything is filthy every day, like my little boy. He's got pants for every day plus extra for the 2-pair days! Still no in-between wash loads! That's my balance--enough clothes to make it through a week without extra laundry!

 
At December 6, 2011 at 9:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

we are a family of 7 and when we had to live in our camper for a couple of months we too had to be very careful about what we packed. We had no washer/dryer and space was LIMITED in that tiny camper. I found we managed just fine with literally 1 weeks worth of clothing for each person. I'm glad to be living in a house with a washer & dryer now but I've also managed to keep the clothing to a minimum and it really does help with managing time and space.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 9:34 AM , Anonymous Katherine said...

If it weren't for hand me downs growing up, I would have had very few clothes. I'm not a parent, but can appreciate the enough is enough sentiment. I'm not even a clothes horse, but shoes... well let's just say I have more than I need.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 9:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a lot of clothes but I don't shop for them. My mom does. She can't help herself. If I were buying the clothes it would be second hand stores and organic or bamboo materials for more sustainability. I do take the clothes to consignment shops though...as a first stop before donation.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 9:40 AM , Blogger Binky said...

As my mother fills my new "professional" wardrobe with deep-discount finds (and not always things I even like), I'll certainly be thinking of this. My life is transitioning from a bicycle-commuter student to a young professional and my clothing needs will be different (no more washing a t-shirt a day from the sweaty commute... and believe me, I've tried to re-wear those!) But I, like Amy G, live in Canada with opposites in heat and cold. Maybe I can pare those favourites down to just a few and add some versatile jackets to dress up the existing wardrobe. I feel quite inspired! Thanks for the post!

 
At December 6, 2011 at 9:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a large capacity washer and do laundry once a week. That being said, The kids could easily still do with less clothing. I'm looking at: 8 pairs of jeans, pants, skirts, or leggings, 10 tops (and 2 dresses a piece for the girls), 3 hoodie/sweatshirt (this is a location adjustment; It's colder here and they are worn as shirts) 1 coat, 1 lightweight rain jacket, 1 lightweight fleecie or jacket, 2 pairs of pajamas and 1 pair of gym/tennis shoes, 1 pair of boots, 1 basic loafer, and a pair of black and brown dress shoes. (My girls are VERY girlie, and if I could get them down to these shoes,, I would be THRILLED!)

 
At December 6, 2011 at 10:34 AM , Anonymous Misty said...

I have a friend with a daughter that changes clothes, very expensive clothes, several times a day.
After a conversation with my friend about it, I took my young, teen aged son shopping for jeans and he couldn't make up his mind after stops at multiple stores and rejections of every pair of pants I gave him to try on. Finally, in a fit of frustration, I said "Shopping with you is as bad as shopping with a teenaged girl!! What exactly are you looking for in a pair of pants?" He said "Remember those pants I used to wear with the big pockets?" ummmmmmm....."The ones we got at Wal-Mart?" He said "yes!Those! All right! Lets go! He said he loved the jeans at Wal-Mart and I said "And that's why I love you." :)

 
At December 6, 2011 at 11:17 AM , Blogger daisy said...

We have a minimum of clothes too. It just makes sense. We are homeschoolers who have some clothes for venturing out in public, and some older, won't-come-too-clean-anymore clothes for around the house and yard. Works for me!

Incidentally, I live in an HOA too and they CANNOT restrict you from having a clothesline. They can tell you where they want you to place it, but it's a federal law that states that anyone using natural resources cannot be prohibited from doing it. Trust me, our HOA is overboard with every little thing, and even they cannot do anything about our clothesline.
Best wishes!

 
At December 6, 2011 at 11:57 AM , Blogger Sarah Smith said...

This is great! We always seem to have too many clothes for our kids. We actually don't buy any at all (okay, socks sometimes) because the grandparents are constantly buying them clothes. It is ridiculous, though, when we can't get the dresser drawers closed. I REALLY like this idea, and how simple it could make getting dressed in the mornings.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM , Anonymous Shawn said...

We live in Colorado so have large swings in temperature, have an over-abundance of hand me downs and also have separate school uniforms, so we are over-challenged with clothes issues! I have been contemplating down-sizing for awhile. We do go through 2x per year and pass on what doesn't fit or the girls don't like, but it leaves us with an outrageous amount still. I think I will start by NOT putting clothes away in drawers/closets for 2 weeks and then whatever is in the closets/drawers will get removed to storage to see if they miss anything. Then just put in the 2 weeks of stuff they have worn. Seems like a good approach to a LARGE issue.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 12:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a fantastic idea. My MIL sends boxes of clothes to my kids and buys out the mall each time she visits. I cannot manage all the clothing! My solution is to keep a similar amount of clothes (that you describe) and put the others in the waaaaay baaaaack of the closet. My kids can trade out a shirt for a shirt, but they can only keep so many clothes in rotation. This idea came from my frustration with Mt. Laundry! I have more time now and my kids are more responsible. I think they like have less choices in the morning.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 3:35 PM , Anonymous Stacy Makes Cents said...

Annie has a lot of clothes....actually, we all do. But I'm so cheap you know I didn't pay much for them - if anything. :-) Dressing Annie up every day is one of the highlights of my day - odd, I know.
I try to cut down on the overwhelming laundry thing by doing one load per day - sometimes two. It has helped simplify things around here.
Kudos to you. :-) I think it's a great idea.....but I don't think I can do it. HA!

 
At December 6, 2011 at 4:01 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

I did the same thing a year ago. We don't have much money and we're lucky to have generous people in our lives. Between the grandparents and hand-me-downs from other families the kids had a ridiculous amount of clothing (think 12 pairs of pajamas for one kid!) Live has been easier since we downsized. Instead of a specific number of items, each kid was assigned a location/drawer for each type of clothing. When it is full, something must go. It's worked well for the last year.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 6:49 PM , Blogger MamaY said...

I have been doing somehing very similar with my 2 girls for a few years. Each season we sort through all their clothes for the upcoming season, what doesn't fit goes in a "bye-bye" pile, what does fit is assesssed to see if it is liked well enough to continue being worn, then we determine what, IF ANYTHING, we need to purchase. I have kept very similar quantities for my girls as you have above, with the exception of a few extra sweaters/sweatshirts for the Midwest winters. My oldest is the only one that has had trouble, but she is better now at not being to emotionally attached to clothes. I have fewer things for myself -- 2 pair of jeans, 2 pair of sweatpants, but a couple more sweaters. Our struggle has been grandmas. This year I finally told them they can't keep buying the girls so many clothes, they are just getting the girls in trouble for not putting their stuff away -- no more room in their drawers. It seems to be helping.
And we LOVE hand me downs! Those were always my oldest's favorite things - the things that someone else gave up for her. She would light up. My youngest wears some hand me down hand me downs. :) And we keep the oldest's clothes for the youngest as well as having enough to share with others.

 
At December 6, 2011 at 11:24 PM , Blogger Tracey Davis said...

I have been considering this as well. I am very good about my closet, but we get a lot of hand me downs, and I have trouble parting with clothing that has been given to us. Good idea to pack it away "in case" though. I think I'm taking the plunge and putting it on my to do list.

 
At December 7, 2011 at 4:25 AM , Blogger Pam said...

Great tips! I'm in the process of purging stuff as well. Sometimes the 'stuff' almost makes me feel claustrophobic.

 
At December 7, 2011 at 5:16 AM , Blogger Dr. Lisa DeRogatis Sulsenti said...

I found this post to be relieving! I find myself sorting through clothes and narrowing it down often too. What triggers me to do it is when I have to buy seasonally for my oldest who is 13 and I only buy enough to get buy for him. (he is growing like a weed and his clothes can get pricey as he is in mens sizes) Then, I notice how much my youngest who is 7 (youngest of 3 boys) has and I realize he just has too much. The child with the most also only wears the same few things! So, alas.. you are so relieving and correct! :)

 
At December 7, 2011 at 6:53 AM , Anonymous Katy @ Purposely Frugal said...

I just want to say, that I feel your pain with the clothes line! We live in a nice trailer park. I started hanging my clothes out to save on electricity. I did it for months with nobody saying anything.Then we got a new neighbor, who started hanging his clothes out front, and then the trailer park manager asked me to stop. What really urks me, is that our neighbor has kept doing it and apparently not gotten in trouble...all well, I guess I should stop whinning about it. I just don't think clothes hanging out looks that bad, I think it looks frugal!

 
At December 7, 2011 at 8:21 AM , Anonymous Dory said...

I'm from a large family, I'm the oldest of 11:) We were very (VERY) blessed with hand-me-downs when i was growing up! But one thing I've learned from that in my own experience with my boys is.....Keep the love on the move:)) sort through it IMMEDIATELY, keep ONLY what you actually need and pass it along to another family or shelter! There are also places that ship clothes over seas to needy countries and they take donations as well!

 
At December 7, 2011 at 8:57 AM , Blogger JES said...

I have also found that if you shop less, you buy less :)

Great Post!

 
At December 7, 2011 at 2:26 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

I really need to do this, but more with my wardrobe than my kids. I hang onto the size tens i am NEVER going to fit into again "just in case" ::shakes head::

 
At December 7, 2011 at 8:50 PM , Blogger Leslie said...

This is a great topic!
While I'm not purging my daughters closet, I am being good about not replenishing it at an unnecessary rate. This fall I let her pick out 1 new outfit for school and that was all we bought. Seriously, she has plenty of clothes, they all still fit and look great - why do I have to buy new school clothes every year?
As a family we're really good about reusing & recycling, but we need to focus on reducing!
BTW - we are a 2 parent/2 kid family - and I ONLY do wash 1x a week too!

 
At December 8, 2011 at 8:20 AM , Anonymous Leanne said...

No shorts? You must live in a colder climate than we do. (: We definitely need summer clothes here.

Unfortunately, I tend to be both hard to fit (petite and curvy) and hard on my clothes, so a limited closet just means I wear them out faster and have to spend lots of time trying to find more. /: I try to keep it pared down, but I have to balance that with trying not to have to shop too much.

 
At December 8, 2011 at 9:37 AM , Blogger Good Girl Gone Green said...

Great tips! I have down sized my wardrobe the last few months. It is so liberating!

 
At December 8, 2011 at 11:33 AM , Blogger Jen said...

Several people mentioned living in climates where you need a different wardrobe for summer vs. winter. I also live in a climate like this and one thing that helps me is to rotate the clothes for the season. I happen to have a large closet, so the out of season clothes go in the back on hangers or in storage bins, but this is also a good process for people with small closets to store out of season clothing somewhere else and keep the closet from getting too cluttered. This process of moving clothes not only keeps the seasonal clothes most accessible, it also provides a good time to evaluate what you have not worn and get rid of it.

 
At December 8, 2011 at 12:47 PM , Blogger Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma said...

I couldn't do 2 pairs of pjs. My kids are 4 and 2, and they trash their clothes...

And my son goes to public school, so I'd say 7 of each for us. That's about what we have... But they ruin clothes {but most of our stuff is hand-me-down, thrifted, or gifts} :)

But I did just downsize quite a bit in my own closet. I think it's easier to own less pants than tops with kids. Tops get ruined faster...

The clothes that you didn't need: are you boxing them up and rotating?

 
At December 9, 2011 at 11:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faith from Crochet by the Sea...has this to say about that...
Hi...found you on Deborah Jeans Friday Bloghop....I like the theme of your blog..downsizing...an ambitious goal. It is clothes we have to much of..Working on the downsizing of first, my craft craziness...yarn
and things..I have run out of room, and while not as much as some, too much for me. How many things can I make at one time? Trying to use up what I have, organize and yes even give some away to Goodwill, or SA, or Purple Heart, they are frequent visitors here and hopefully our items will benenfit somebody. It must start with me, and then the children..ages 16 &9, packrats...oh bother:), good food for thought here, I'll be back......glad to meet you.

 
At December 10, 2011 at 7:02 PM , Blogger Katie @ Imperfect People said...

I am on a massive less stuff campaign but wow! That is cutting it down pretty drasticaly. I am inspired but I don't think I can cut it down that much. BUT i do know I can cut it down more. Thank you so much for sharing this!

 
At December 12, 2011 at 4:04 AM , Anonymous April @ The 21st Century Housewife said...

I would struggle to downsize to this extent but there are still some great tips here. I am sure many folks with young children will find it very helpful indeed and you also raise some very important points about not confusing our identity with what we wear. I am so pleased you shared this post with the Gallery of Favorites - thank you!

 
At December 12, 2011 at 9:22 AM , Blogger marihaf said...

Hit your blog via skip to my lou. I realized at the new millenium that our stuff owned us rather than the other way around. We have downsized considerably(except for a huge house, we like our room) and it has been one of the most librating things we have done. We recently moved cross country and we took up only 1/3 of the space than it did when we moved 8 years ago. I am thrilled to know that we are on the right track. Thanks for your tips...great blog

 
At December 12, 2011 at 10:23 AM , Blogger NYCLQ said...

Great read and tips... Thanks for sharing. We just moved and even though we donated items and had a garage sale before moving, I still find we are donating to downsize!

xo Lynda

 
At December 20, 2011 at 3:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say, I came across your blog a few days ago and.... I love it! I have always wanted a mini type farm, but I don't want to completely give up living right in the middle of town. So, I have been reading your blog and doing my research and find that your blog is so informative! This post actually really hits home because our dryer just broke. We bought a retractable clothes line, and here in Florida it takes literally ALL DAY to dry one load of towels. After evaluating our 10 loads of laundry we had to replace the dryer... but we are certainly doing things different now! Great post!

www.dekotamaries.blogspot.com

 
At December 26, 2011 at 5:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just ran across this post and I think it's great!! I was just thinking the other day that I only need 2 pair of jeans and 2 pairs of black pants. 1 to wear and 1 to wash. How freeing this will be. I don't have to think about what I will wear. I will only keep what I really love wearing. I am absolutely downsizing my closet!!! Thanks for your blog!

 
At December 28, 2011 at 8:10 AM , Blogger Mary said...

How is this going? Do you find that you have enough clothes? I've been trying to do this but then the gramas buy stuff or they stain or rip their clothes and need replacements.
I also have an 18 gallon tote for each child (except the baby) and their clothes go into their totes from the dryer. No folding involved.

 
At December 28, 2011 at 8:25 AM , Blogger Andrea said...

@Mary It's going great!!! We definitely had to do some more decluttering after Christmas:) But it's much easier to stay on top of it when there's less.

 
At December 28, 2011 at 9:08 PM , Blogger HaggyHouseWife said...

We just did this last month.. my oldest son went through a growth spurt that was having me hunting at goodwill every week for pants.. with two daughters who share clothing most of the time and a five year old boy I can't imagine paying retail for any piece of clothing...
I guess that was why I had 7 trash bags of clothes hauled out of their room.. if it doesn't fit pitch it.. stained or ripped bleach and a sewing machine can be perfect school lessons.. then we throw in a little life lesson of Mama having a melt down because she just broke her 2nd needle on a pair of pants that no one wanted in the first place.

 

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