Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The sea of garments

I have a question for you all about clothes. I've been doing a lot of laundry, and so my mind has been wandering around the clothesline.

As it tends to happen every so often in our house (every so often means I don't actually want to admit how often), I got behind in the laundry department. Not a big deal because everyone still had clean clothes to wear. But it is quite a chore to get lots of laundry done so that things can be tidy again.

With so many clothes, there is the flexibility to not have to wash as often. Or at least I tell myself that, in reality I still do laundry every day. With so many clothes there IS the opportunity to get them all dirty before washing and that is a lot of laundry my friends.

I'm wondering, how many clothes should the kids really have anyway? What's realistic? What's practical?

I remembered reading in an issue of Above Rubies about a woman who has 8 children and that each child is only allowed to have enough clothes to fill 1 laundry basket. I started thinking about the numerous laundry baskets that could be filled from my children's closets - not even beginning to touch the clothes in storage that they've outgrown.

I think my life would be so much simpler if we had less. Don't mistake me for a minimalist! But as I'm wading through the sea of garments I start to wonder - how much is too much?

What would you say is a sufficient wardrobe? How does the clothing issue work in your house?


Amy said...

I go back and forth here too. I've read having 7 sets of clothing per child is sufficient - as long as you are able to stay up with the laundry. . . I can say that my older two, even my boy tend to fall into this category, but my littlest girl - well her drawers are overflowing and never organized (or shut!) I see the advantages to both sides of this coin - thankfully we upgraded our washer when pregnant, with #4 to a high capacity, so with 4 kids 2 loads every 4 or so days is good.

Tara said...

I think less is probably best, though I can see with having so many kids that it is easy to accumulate lots of hand me downs from one to the next, etc.

Shea doesn't have very many clothes, and they could definitely all fit in one laundry basket (but they are also very small!). However, Adam and I are the ones that have Attack of the Laundry Syndrome. Piles! And the worst is when we just pull stuff out of the clean pile and it never gets folded and put away. :-O This happens a lot. I

brietta said...

I tend to be a minimalist with clothing compared to most of my friends, but I don't know about 1 basket per child! (Definitely not if you count what I have in storage-- but that clothing has been oh-so-invaluable in that Jack has worn all of Gabriel's hand-me-downs and Aubrey all of Bronwyn's!)

My children each have the following for the summer:
2-3 pairs of play shorts
4-5 play tops
1 pair of jeans
2 casual-nice outfits (shorts or capris)
3 "church" outfits
2 pairs of pjs
6 pairs of underwear

It works for us. I do laundry almost everyday because otherwise it's easy to run out of stuff (especially since kids tend to get clothes dirty in the summer!), but somehow doing 1-2 loads each day is much easier for me than doing a lot all at once.

Kristin said...

Hubby and I were just going through a box of baby clothes tonight. We tend to keep all the clothes the kids have outgrown because it helps when the next one comes along to not have to buy fresh stuff (even at yard sales). However, it is hard to find a balance between hoarding and saving wisely. As far as clothes in the drawer, we TRY to not go overboard, but the kids get so many freebies (especially my daughter) that is hard to keep it to a minimum. I don't think we would go over the laundry basket limit...

Katie said...

@brietta - I love the list, thank you! I'd be very interested in hearing what the winter wardrobe list was like, too!

Jenn said...

I don't have any answers on this one. I have so many clothes right now for the kids. I have 2 families that give me boy hand-me-downs I use theses for my boys. I have 2 dressers in my basement full of clothes, because I hold on to them for the younger boys to wear. I did work on minimizing the amount of clothing in their dressers this summer, but I think I could do some more.

Carole said...

I'm not as organized as Brietta by any means, but my goal is to begin working towards a list like that. We've been given so many hand me downs - I didn't have to purchase any clothes for Ian until he was nearly 4. The thing is, as blessed as I am to have received so many clothes, I don't really like all of them. So I am trying to be honest with myself when I put clothes into storage each season. Also at that point I limit myself to a certain number of t-shirts, shorts, pants, etc. per size. This helps me to eliminate some of the extras that really never get worn anyhow.

redeemed said...

Okay, want to feel a bit better about your clothing stash?

Alyssa has 17 dresses hanging in her closet this morning. That doesn't count skirts (she has several in her dresser) or dirty dresses (and she wears a dress most days).

But in my defense, we've been given amazing hand-me-downs from a friend and we have very generous relatives. I've asked for no more clothes for the girls but we get them anyway. I also give a lot away. I shouldn't have to buy any clothes for Alyssa for at least 2 years. Lauren is lacking size 18 mos. severely because I gave it all away after Alyssa outgrew them, in a panic of clutter. But once Lauren hits size 2T, I shouldn't have to buy her anything. For a long time.

Oh this is a long comment. All this to say that I guess I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to have lots of clothes, especially if you have several kids. Plastic storage bins are my friend. I go through the closet twice a year and purge out what we don't like/is stained/ is worn out. It might be hard to store it but don't throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. I figure one of the girls will wear the clothes eventually. Clothes are expensive and if I can cut down our costs, I will.

brietta said...

I try to think in terms of "outfits" when I set up my kids' drawers. Over the years, I've been given lots of hand-me-downs (which is a tremendous blessing!!!), and one simple way for me to determine whether or not to keep the hand-me-down is by seeing if it matches at least a couple things in my child's wardrobe. It's too easy to fill a dresser with odds and ends that don't really mix, especially if you're getting hand-me-downs that don't come with the matching bottom or top, etc.

Anyway, for winter, per kid:

2-3 play outfits
2 hoodies/sweatshirts
2 nice-casual outfits (sweater and/or button-down shirt & cords, etc.)
3 "church outfits"
1 holiday (Christmas) outfit
3 pairs of pjs (1 fleece/thicker, 2 lighter-weight)
socks to match nicer outfits, plus 3-4 pairs of athletic socks
4-6 undershirts
6 pairs of underwear
1 snowsuit w/ hat & gloves/mittens
brown casual-nice shoes/boots
black dress shoes
snow boots

Usually, the amount in the winter increases slightly around Christmas time due to gifts they receive. This is usually a welcome increase, in that it isn't uncommon for each child to have outgrown or ruined something they'd previously been wearing! Not to mention, winters are so long around here, it's nice to either add or trade something! :)

This year, I'll also be adding Friday Program Uniform to Gabriel's stash: navy or khaki pants and 2 white polo shirts (1 short-sleeved, 1 long-sleeved).

At the risk of my comments taking over your blog (!), I'll mention that you can probably see that I place a bigger premium on having "nice" clothes than play clothes. This is because I tend to change my kids into "nice" clothes even just to go to dinner at my parents' house or to make a family shopping trip for the morning. You can blame my mom for raising me to think in such a way. :) At any rate, because of this value system, I've found for play clothes that I wash them a lot and they aren't often re-usable at the end of the season-- I won't end up storing those things for the next child, but will put them in the rag or trash bin. This, to me, is simpler than other alternatives because then I only have to store "nice" clothes, which occasionally have gotten worn/stained enough to be play clothes for the next child. But, as always, it's just my preference!

Molly said...

Wow, I think I can fill more than a laundry basket with clothes that *currently* fit our five month old. Yikes! I'm not even kidding, after I had the baby we had a couple months where clothes NEVER made it to drawers...we just had a HUGE heap of clean clothes and a HUGE heap of dirty clothes. Pathetic.

My husband and I both have waaaay too many clothes. The amount of laundry I do is bordering ridiculous. Justin gets at least two sets of clothes dirty *a day* because of his job, so that right there is a few loads a week, and then between me and Maddie another two loads, plus a load for towels and a load for whites, and three loads for cloth diapers. Yikes!

I need to scale back...keep the ideas coming, you gals are inspiring me!

Jennifer said...

I happened upon this blog and got a kick out of this question. I loved reading the feedback from others. We have 2 bedrooms for 6, going on 7 children. Clothes drive me crazy. My rule has been

- 1 plastic tote(3'x2'x6") of pants/jeans or skirts
- 1 2' length of the bar for hanging clothes
- 1 drawer for sock/undies/tees

PER CHILD - not stuffed and within moderation.

We have a small home so keeping hand-me-downs isn't an option anymore. For the last few years I have been consigning or donating 95% of our outgrown clothing and the Lord has always provided the childrens needs. Don't feel pressure to keep totes and totes of reusable clothing at the expense of your precious storage space, when you dn't have much and it is precious to you.

It is so much easier to clean out closets on a regular basis when you can just put it in a bag and ship it out the door to the store!

Sarah O said...

Well, I know my three month old only has one basket worth of clothes that currently fit him, since he just lost his dresser and all his clothes live in a basket at the moment!
I am not sure how to handle the longterm storage of clothes, but I am getting better at what I keep in the drawers. Kate has about 6 summer church dresses that hang in the closet. In her drawers I have folded her shirts and skirts/shorts into "outfits". She always wears them together. I used to switch things up and just had her clothes folded in piles of shirts, shorts, skirts, like my clothes are, but am finding it works better for now to keep them in outfits. She probably only has ten outfits in there, with a few sweatshirts to wear if it's cold, and a pair of pants, plus her church sweater. She probably wears about six or seven of the outfits total. I do a load of laundry a day (or at least that is my goal), so the clothes turn-round is pretty good.
With James's clothes in the basket (he has sleepers and warm clothes in it too) I am finding that he probably wears a quarter of what I have for him. (This is getting long... Ack!)I will probably not put all of it in the new dresser when we get it.
I figure if I focus on what we wear/use what we end up storing will be less. I am getting better about NOT storing it if I didn't like to put it on the child.