A simple system for managing kid’s clothes so you don’t lose your mind…or your kids’ clothes.
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With fourteen children (nine still living at home) I don’t have the luxury to buy new clothing for every child. We proudly use hand-me-downs and use them well. Here is the system we have been using in our family for ten years for managing kid’s clothes. This system has proved itself over and over in our large family.
Step 1: Buy Sturdy, Reusable Bins for Managing Kid’s Clothes
Buy sturdy, reusable bins and fine a place to store them.
We use these 18-gallon Rubbermaid Totes. We’ve been using them for about ten years now. I forget how many we started with, but we have bought more over the years as needed.
Keep in mind, you don’t need a huge storage space. Our storage area is an 8-foot crawl space, but you could use a wall of your garage, carport, or even a closet.
Step 2: Gather All Unused Clothing in One Place
For us, this means our front deck on a warm day. My children hauled up every single clothing and camping bin from our storage area so we could do a major sort and purge.
We do this every spring and fall. We get clothing from the bins in-between seasons as needed. If a child needs an item of clothing we check the bins before purchasing, but twice a year we sort and organize everything. This way I see who needs more seasonal clothing (shorts in the summer, etc) and in what sizes.
Step 3: Examine Each Piece of Clothing
I know this sounds tedious, but it really doesn’t take that long. We start with one bin at a time, have kids try on clothes, decided what we are keeping out for the new season and what goes back into the bins. I only keep clothes that are in good repair and stain-free. Unfortunately, it seems I always pull out a few items that are now stained. These get used as rags, passed to Goodwill, or repurposed in some way. But they do not go back in the bins.
Step 4: Number Each Bin
The reason for numbers is, it makes it easy to switch up contents in the future as the contents change. Instead of writing “boy’s shirts” write a number and number your inventory. I promise this will pay off in the end.
I have both a hard copy (in our household notebook) and one in the notes section of my phone. Our categories are things such as:
1. Boy’s Pants 8-12
2. Boy’s Pants 12 & up
4. Girl’s shirts 6-12
You get the idea. Apollo has his own bin since there is such a large age gap between him and Tucker.
Easy to Grab at the Last Minute
This system of managing kid’s clothes has worked so well for us, that I have been able to grab a bin of church clothes and locate a new pair of pants for one of my sons in less than five minutes. I’ve done this more than once on a Sunday morning when a child has suddenly outgrown the pants that fit them the week before.
Step 5: Return the Keepers to Their Bins
It is a good idea to have a box or bag for clothing you aren’t keeping. Have a bag for donating and a bag for rags or upcycling. I guarantee you will find at least a few items you no longer want to keep.
Step 6: Return the Bins to Their Home
We stack the bins two high. We could go higher space-wise but I wanted to keep the clothing easily accessible. Shelving would make this even easier, but I am working with what I have. It is no problem to move one bin to check the one underneath, but I knew anything beyond that would be tedious and was not likely to be kept up.
How about you? Do you have any secrets for managing kid’s clothes?
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