Clothes–The Least Wonderful Times of the Year

I’m happy right now. So happy. Because I’m officially finished switching the kids clothes to spring-wear. That means it will be six whole months before I have to do it again. Does anyone else get this elated about completing that task?

There’s nothing romantic about making sure your children have proper attire each season. If you find it to be so, please don’t speak so that we can still be friends. It’s boring, tedious, confusing, and messy. And sometimes I get jealous that my kids’ clothes are cuter than mine, but whatever. I’m not a fan, BUT through the years I’ve at least gotten the process down to a semi-art, an art that still takes more than a week to complete and has beauty that DEFINITELY is only in the eye of the beholder (namely me), but an art nonetheless.

So here’s the way this goes down with the Bells:

1. Organize your storage simply: We have a large tub for every size and each gender that are labeled with a fancy strip of packing tape and a Sharpie marker. It’s going to be in the basement. No one but you and Better Homes and Gardens cares about beauty here.

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2. Have a fashion show: I make my kids try on every. single. garment. As with adults, there is no one-size-fits-all. So even though with one child size 8 shirts are clearly right, there will always be that one that lands somewhere just above the belly button and will be passed down to a child three years younger. Thank you, clothing designers.

3. Keep a good list of exactly what you need for each child: One year, a department store was having a killer sale. Bill and I knew the sizes our kids needed and went crazy. When we got home, we had something like 9 new outfits for our 3rd child (who didn’t need new clothes in the first place) and not enough for others. I also used to make the mistake of knowing how many tops and bottoms they needed. That worked great except for the fact that half of the tops didn’t have a bottom that would go with that doesn’t look like it’s from the 80’s.

Here’s the list we have for spring/summer. Ours is very simple because I love the word “simple” and because we don’t have to get dolled up for anything. In other words, this list isn’t a one-size-fits-all either. I have eight of most things so there’s a spare if one gets dirty (I don’t do extra laundry except by force) and so we avoid a fashion faux pax of wearing the same outfit every Thursday.

  • 8 outfits (that go together–don’t be us)
  • 8 pairs underwear
  • 8 pairs short socks
  • 1 pair tennis shoes (if there’s a good sale, my oldest son gets 2 pair because he prefers them and will need a 2nd pair by the end of the summer anyway)
  • 1 pair casual shoe (if you’ve met us EVER you know this translates into flip flops)
  • 4 pajamas sets (we wear these multiple nights in a row, yes, we do)
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • 1 rain boot (this is VERY optional for us)
  • 1 rain coat/jacket
  • 1 umbrella to share between two people

4. Shop for what’s needed to finish the list for everyone and nothing more: No comments here about how to do this. If I did comment I might have to confess I never do consignment sales/shops for no reason except I’m lazy and want to get it over with quickly and might tell you I basically get everything from The Children’s Place and try to justify it by bragging about all the great sales I found. There are great blogs out there about saving money. This isn’t one of them.

5. Take pictures of the outfits you brilliantly put together: This is gold for us. We like to get a project done and then never think about it ever again. So when outfits are being decided for the day, we just look at the picture we’ve taped to their closet door. Voila! The kids have freedom to “choose” their own outfits and we don’t have to be ashamed to be seen with them. Win win. Oh, and as you can see, the picture doesn’t have to be pretty. Just good enough for you to know what everything is.

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6. Do ALL your laundry: How long this takes is up to you. Sometimes I push to get it done in a day. Sometimes I stick to my usual schedule of one color-group a day. The point is, get it done so you can pull all the old sizes out (from closets and dressers, too), put them in handy dandy plastic tubs, and stick those babies in storage never to be seen again–until the fall…

7. Store a few opposite weather clothes in a handy spot: Since we don’t live in the deep south, we basically get four months of semi-predictable temperatures. The rest of the time we’re at the mercy of super reliant meteorologists to know if we’ll be wearing shorts or thermal underwear in the spring. I own storage tubs that fit under beds, and we fill them with a few articles of clothing for each child that are out of season. That way I don’t have to trek down to the basement to dig through the granddaddy tubs every other day, nor do I have to stuff the kids’ drawers with every article of clothing they own.

So there you have it. Nothing magical, but it works well for us. What magic tricks do you all have up your sleeves with clothes?

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3 thoughts on “Clothes–The Least Wonderful Times of the Year

  1. I love this! Thank you for taking the time to bless us with what you’ve learned in the big family clothing/laundering/crazy madness! Question. I’ve often thought of limiting my kids wardrobe to 7-8 outfits like you suggest. However, I run into a problem. What do you do when your kids stain something that won’t come out or tear irreparable holes in them? Just be short an outfit? I feel this happens fairly often around here so I always hold on to way more than I need for these purposes. Or I get bored with the same things over and over again. Maybe that’s just a personality problem I need to deal with. haha… thoughts?

    • I know, right?! I stick with the eight outfits, but I think my kids spent a good two months with holes in their jeans because I was too greedy to buy them more pants with spring “just around the corner.” Honestly I don’t have a great process for this. I also hate having extra clothes around that never get worn. I’ve definitely ordered more clothes when I find a good deal mid-season, but I’m obviously not above sending my kids out in 8 degree weather with half-pants either, so basically I don’t have a good answer. 😉 What do you do?

      • I have yet to come to a conclusion… I just end up with WAY too many clothes. I always want to purge but then worry about needing it later! OR… I save extras for the siblings in the future. But for my sanity (and laundry), I’d truly LOVE to find a middle ground solution to this! Thanks for sharing!

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