Simplified laundry for the mom overwhelmed by clothes

How to simplify kids' clothes

The psychology behind kids’ clothes, why we have so much and how to find the balance between way too many and not enough

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By KRISTA LOCKWOOD

Decluttering kids’ clothes is one of the top requests I get from moms, and what they need help with. I personally believe that creating our kids’ wardrobes is about as personal as our political and religious beliefs. Seriously, it’s an emotionally charged topic in the decluttering world for a lot of different reasons, and those reasons are all deeply personal. 

The reason I believe this is such an emotionally charged topic is because it’s overwhelming. So many moms (maybe even you since you’re reading this) are completely overwhelmed by laundry. The piles, the never ending dirty clothes and process of washing, drying, putting away. It has literally brought me to tears before because it was so overwhelming. 

Another reason it’s so emotionally charged is because it is confusing. There is just so much of it. There are so many things to consider – ages, seasons, sizes, various needs, potential just in case and future scenarios (and siblings), guilt associations because we were gifted them in the form of hand me downs. It’s confusing to know what to keep and not keep, or how much, and for how long.

It’s also just a very personal journey. Often times the clothes we have, buy and keep are closely tied to our money stories. Were we broke and could only afford second hand (there is nothing wrong with this by the way, but if you’re like me I had a lot of shame surrounding this). We want people to think we are financially secure so we spend way too much on brand new clothes. We grew up poor so feel the need to keep them all, or compulsively thrift shop and have way too many. We remember when our kids were teeny tiny and wearing the outfits and it’s hard to let go of. We want variety, or feel pressure from our social circles to have an outfit for every occasion and the list goes on and on. 

It’s an emotional process, not a practical one. 

Decluttering kid’s clothes is not simple for a lot of reasons, and it is actually not a practical process – it’s an emotional one. 

In my own personal journey in decluttering, and coaching hundreds of moms through this process I have learned some universal truths about decluttering clothes, and some universal myths – I’ll call them “fact and fiction” just for fun in here.

I believe that as mothers we should not accept that overwhelming laundry is a way of life. It’s common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal or that it has to be that way forever. I know because I have five kids, and I don’t have laundry piles and I very rarely fall behind. I am not saying that to brag, I am saying that to give you hope for your laundry situation if you are overwhelmed by it. 

No, we don’t wear the same things over and over.

Yes, I splurge on the cute matching little girl outfits for my youngest two daughters (and sometimes the oldest one wants to match too). 

Laundry fact #1

Too much clothing is your main issue, not “not enough”. We see evidence of this all around us. We see it when we get disappointed that consignment stores don’t take our very nice, basically new, hardly ever worn clothing because they already have too much. 

There is evidence of this by the very hard reality that most of us are drowning in hand me downs from well meaning friends and family. Many of us have been (or felt like) the scapegoat for that family member downsizing their stored clothes into our home. Or maybe you have gifted your 3 bins of clothes you haven’t opened in three years to a friend and feel both generous, but also a sense of relief because it’s no longer your burden to bear. This is an issue of “too much” collectively, not “not enoough”. 

I know this makes me sound like a sour patch about hand me downs, and I want to make it clear that I am not against generosity, sharing resources and making good use out of perfectly good items. I have just seen enough to know that as a society we have a huge imbalance of supply and demand because we demand more than we can ever possibly use.

How do I think we change this? We view clothing as a consumable item – because they are. Clothes are not meant to last forever so if we bought less with the intention of wearing them out rather than buying so much then sending them on to someone else I believe we would see a radical shift in fast fashion, overall consumption levels AND decreased burden and overwhelm in moms. 

Laundry fiction #1

Weather, seasons and geography does not mean and automatic death sentence for you and your laundry situation. I feel like I need to preface what I am about to say with the fact that in the past seven years I have lived in Alaska, Florida, Idaho, SoCal, and now the midwest and you do not need to be overwhelmed by laundry if you want to be prepared for seasons. 

This is probably the most commonly held belief about clothes, so common in fact that even my friends who lived in SoCal with me, where it is literally where people go to live in perfect weather, said they had too many clothes to be prepared for the weather. That my friend is telling – this myth has been busted. 

Now, where I live yesterday it was 80. Today it is 38 and last night it dipped below freezing. I understand weather. What I understand even more is being strategic and intentional with how I buy my kids’ clothes so that we are not drowning in laundry piles and have all the kinds of clothes we need. 

Laundry fact #2

Without an inventory of what you have, it will never really work for you. Especially if you have multiple kids, and are trying to save what you have for the younger (or future) kids. I know because I have tried.
What would happen is boxes, bins and bags stacked in a closet, under the bed or in the basement. Unlabeled, unsure of what it was – sizes, seasons. It was just in there. 
The worst part about that? I was buying in advance and saving it all to save me time and money, but because I wasn’t keeping track of what I had I would forget what I had, pull it out at the wrong time, miss the size/season.. and still have to buy more, thus wasting my time, energy, space, and resources. Lame sauce. 
Keeping an inventory is essential. If you want to learn how I do it, you can get on the wait list for the course I am creating here – it will be available mid-summer 2020! Right now I have the first round of moms testing it out and giving me feedback for improving it. 
 

Laundry fiction #2

You need to have clothes for every single occasion, event, or function. The fact might be that you WANT them, which is okay. But to tell yourself you need to live an overwhelming laundry life because you feel societal pressure to have multiple outfits for every holiday, can’t repeat church outfits and need to be dressed for every kind of play date/spirit day is just a whole lot of mental and emotional (maybe even financial) clutter that you are not obligated to participate in.

If you want to, and enjoy it YES! Do it. Sometimes I do feel extra extra and want to splurge on a cute matching mom and me (times three because three girls) outfit. But it’s because I want to. Not because Sally with a photography business and Etsy store selling the cutest things ever makes me feel like I need to live my every day life like a photo shoot.

If your friends and family judge you for not having an outfit for every occasion or for repeating outfits at church and play dates- permission to dismiss them from your life. That’s not a healthy relationship anyway. But I am willing to bet that if you released the expectation of yourself to keep up with all these crazy outfits and bows, they would be secretly grateful to you for giving them permission to do the same. 
 

So how do you start deciding what to keep and not keep?

Ask yourself what purpose you want the clothes in your life to serve. I know it sounds kind of silly but really? How are your wardrobes going to align with your values? Remember when I said this is an emotional process? It is.

For my older kids (tweens and a teen) the clothes we buy them are a creative expression and extension of their personalities. That’s an important purpose for kids coming into their own. 

For my toddlers and babies the clothes I buy are to keep them clothed, and are aligned with my values of being a better and more mindful consumer. And for me to have my last hurrah of fun with all the cute and super extra girl outfits while they still let me do all the choosing of their clothes. 

Ask yourself how much of your life you want to dedicate to clothing?

How much TIME do you want to spend washing, drying, putting away, organizing, storing, pulling out, labeling, shopping for, guessing will fit for later, etc?

How much MONEY (which is also your time) do you want to spend on clothing? Hard truth, just because you bought them on clearance a season before hand or they were a good deal at a thrift store, doesn’t automatically mean it was a smart purchase. 

Simplifying clothes is hardly ever a “simple” thing – but I have created a way to make it REALLY easy for you to make it work for you with my new mini course “how to simplify your kids’ wardrobe”. It isn’t available to the general public yet but will be soon. 

I will teach you how to create an inventory and set inventory goals for each of your children/sizes and seasons.

I will teach you how to store your kids’ clothes – on a daily bases (closet/dressers) but also long term if you are saving for future kids.

I will teach you how to shop your stash and create workable wardrobes that fit ALL of your needs – weather, seasons, sizes, ages. 

And how to let go of all the excess you have. 

To get onto the wait for this course just sign up using the button below! 

 

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How to simplify your kids' wardrobe

A full four step system for decluttering the kids clothes and creating wardrobes that actually work for you - no matter where you live or how many kids you have.

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