Q&A: Clothes maintenance

Jaymie writes:

"What's your system for clothes maintenance? I'm having a hard time keeping on top of what fits which kid when, and knowing what to do with the clothes that are 'between kids' at the moment. Tips, please?"

My "system" for clothes maintenance is to sincerely wish every night that some magic fairies would come and sort it all out for me.

Clothes–specifically socks–are the logistical bane of my mothering existence.

My alleged system involves panicking every few months that my kids' clothes all seem to be too small, and culling the too-small clothes from both drawers, and putting them in those big clear plastic containers for storage. Then pulling out the one with clothes that might fit my younger son, and having 20 minutes of nostalgia about those clothes and when the older one wore them. Then I text my kids' dad about the fact that we need to buy more clothes for the older one and more than we thought we'd need for the younger one (How does that always happen?). Every 9 months or so I send a box of too-small-for-everyone clothes to one of my BFFs for her son.

Someone must have a better system to share with us.

I refuse to believe that my reactive instead of responsive system can't be improved upon. So if there's anyone out there who thinks s/he's got it down, please, please post how you work it. I'm guessing Jaymie and I aren't the only ones struggling.

97 thoughts on “Q&A: Clothes maintenance”

  1. This is so apropos because I am spending part of my holiday sorting out my storage room and dealing with these kinds of issues.So I have an imperfect system too but I don’t really think there is a perfect system. Mine is:
    Laundry day – anything with holes or horrifying stains gets tossed; anything that was noticed to be small gets put in a bin that lives in the closet until it is full.
    Seasonally – really twice a year – we sort out and box & label the rest, and crack open any hand-me-down bags from cousins.

  2. I do the same thing with the plastic tubs labeled with each clothing size. I feel like you have to do it a lot in a “four seasons” climate.My biggest problem is that I never, ever, ever put my folded laundry away. It just goes straight from the laundry room to our bodies.

  3. I probably have more space in my midwest condo then you do in NYC… so this might not work for you, but here’s what I do: I buy ahead clothes as I find them on clearance or at garage sales. I store those in plastic bins by size in our basement. Then I keep another bin in our son’s closet and throw clothes in there as I find pieces that are too small. When it gets close to being full, I go through all of the current clothes and look for any pieces I missed, then close up the bin, label it with the sizes, and stuff it in the basement too. When a friend’s kid gets to be that size, I can either just hand them the whole bin to borrow, or pull out whatever they need.

  4. I store clothes by size in old diaper boxes stuffed under my older son’s bed. Not the most aesthetically-pleasing system, but it mostly works. I have two boys, so I do keep everything that’s in decent shape once my older boy grows out of it, for my little one to grow into. I am also keeping all the baby/toddler clothes, just in case….I buy most of my older boy’s clothes on-line at the end of the season (Land’s End overstocks FTW), when the sales are fantastic and the shipping is free. I justify the higher cost with the fact that almost all of the clothes last long enough for the little one to inherit them. The little one doesn’t get nearly as many new clothes, poor guy, but I do get them on-line, on sale, when it’s feasible.

  5. I do the same thing with the bins in the closets–just throw anything that no longer fits in the bin. I participate in local consignment sales quite a bit though, so I unload a lot of the non-fitting stuff that way. I also buy a lot from the consignment sales. I buy clearance clothes as I see them…I live in MS, so chances are, if it’s a short sleeve shirt, my son will be able to wear it at some point!

  6. I too stuff those vacuum seal bags full of outgrown/wrong season clothes, and stack said bags under a desk in my son’s room. I’m 90% certain we won’t be having another kid, but that 10% uncertainty makes me hang on to those silly bags of clothes! Seems like 2-4 times a year I’ll go through the drawers, mostly based on seasonal needs.Luckily we’ve been living on hand-me-downs and Grandma’s generous trips to the Carter outlets, but think once we get to 3T, the hand-me-downs will stop. Seems like boys get too rough on their clothes at that point!

  7. I do the same as Jen R. I keep a bin in each kid’s room (under the crib or in the closet) for their current size and throw in anything they outgrow. Periodically (usually when the baby goes up a size) I sort and put it away in long-term storage.The only trouble comes when the top and bottom half don’t match – my 3.5 year old is a 4T top and barely 2T pants.

  8. I have found that having lots of socks that match helps prevent a full sock drawer, but no pairs.Other than that, I have no system, but I need to start getting rid of outgrown baby clothes.

  9. I’m a bit ocd on this.Each boy has ONE type of sock. One has green words on his white toes, one has blue. They don’t need any other styles or colors. It might be harder with girls.
    I have boxes in their closets marked “too big”. When I’m given hand-me-downs, I try to put them in the appropriate box for the kid. When the older one wears something too small, it goes in little brother’s “too big” box. (Or, more likely these days, onto little brother’s back!) When the younger one wears something too small it goes immediately into a give away pile.
    I can’t convince my kids to remove something that is too small once they’ve put it on. So, I reach into the back of the shirt and put a safety pin on the tag. When I see it in the laundry, I know to pull the item from the rotation in the closet.
    Seasonally, I pull out the “too big” box to see what will work for the upcoming weather change for each kid.
    I usually get rid of clothes as soon as they’re no longer needed, but I admit to a box hidden in the storage area with baby clothes I couldn’t give away. If I could quilt I’d save some favorite t-shirts through the years too.

  10. This is the bane of my existence. I have the bin for the outgrown clothes in the closets, I have the hand-me-downs, I have the storage space, I just don’t have the time to deal with it all. I shoot for a system like Jen R., but end up being very reactive rather than proactive. I’m planning to spend some time over Labor Day weekend getting this under control. Again. Frustrating.

  11. Our clothes from one single two-year-old are threatening to take over our entire third floor. We got tons of hand-me-downs and have shared with younger kids and received piles back, along with lots of stuff that wasn’t ours to begin with. I don’t know who I’m saving these for; I plan to cull out the collection and at least only keep the “good stuff” – adorable, clean outfits; handknits and the like. Ha. We’ll see when that happens.

  12. Like many posters, I keep plastic bins in the basement with clearly visible labels (though my husband did the last round of organizing and decided to ignore the size labels on the infant onesies and instead did some kind of intuitive system which makes me crazy). The few clothes we’ve bought for older son ahead of time go in the bottom drawer of his chest (which also means we have a place to pull out long sleaves if we need them off-season). The second I see something is too small for either child, I pull it out of rotation and put it in the basement bin. I don’t think of the weather as 4 season (though we live in a place with four seasons) but rather two seasons. I just keep a few long sleeve or short sleeve shirts/ pants in rotation throughout the opposite season for mixed weather or travel.I also keep a stain stick in the upstairs bathroom, so when I undress them at night, any serious stain can immediately be treated, instead of waiting for wash day. We love dirt and berries at our house, so stain management is a must.
    Once I decide if we’re done having children, I’ll pull out a few things that are too precious to give away (especially hand-made gifts) to keep for grandchildren (gulp!) and give the nice things away to friends with babies.

  13. This is slightly off topic, but I feel I need to say something. I really don’t like getting hand-me-downs from friends and family. We just don’t have space in our urban condo to hold all of these clothes, and I don’t know how to say “no.” I find it very stressful every time someone sends a box because there is just nowhere to put the contents. Please make sure you are giving your hand-me-downs to someone who really wants or needs them, and give them an easy out (i.e. “I’m sending a box to Goodwill. Do you want to look through it before I send it?”).

  14. YES! This is also the bane of my existence and I find that I have to take a vacation day here and there to get on top of this.Clothes for the future for DS go in a linen closet in the hall (overstuffed). Clothes for the future for DS go in the bottom drawer of his armoire.
    As I notice clothes that are too small (usually while I dress them or sometimes in laundry) I fold them and toss them on top of a big, messy pile on the chair in my bedroom, to be sorted and put into big plastic tubs in the basement (and then what? I don’t know, perhaps until I have enough free time to sort them to give away? Until my basement floods and I have to get rid of everything?). I do however stuff some really special clothes (ie: handmade, stuff I love) in some (messy) boxes in my closet, in hopes that I will give them to the grandkids or make a quilt out of them.

  15. And I also agree with Rhiannon–I hate hand-me-downs from other people (as well as big bags of new clothes from my mother, who works in the garment business and squirrels TONS of clothes that I don’t particualrly like for me and the kids) just because I hate the sorting and figuring out where things need to live. Plus I like choosing my own clothes!

  16. I’m a one and done with no friends with younger same-season kids.Too small gets thrown into the unused 2nd bathtub to be donated when the tub gets cluttered looking.
    One type of socks and no socks memorial to labor day.

  17. I love free clothes. I love getting boxes and bags of them. It’s like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one frugal dream. I hate shopping, so having a clothes fairy magically appear with clothes is womderful. I also don’t care what we wear so we’ll take anything (though there were a few pieces my mom picked up at a garage sale that had lace on them that I did not make my boys wear).I have learned which of my friends and family appreciates hand-me-downs and which don’t. I no longer send clothes to the people who don’t want it. Someone actually told me it was stressful to get a big box of clothes. I didn’t understand, but I nodded and mentally noted not to give her anything. I think she felt as though she needed to return the clothes and couldn’t keep straight who had given her what.

  18. I buy the vast majority of my daughter’s clothes second-hand, and most of them in big batches from eBay. Search for “lot” plus the age and season – you can get 30 to 50 very cute pieces at a shot. I think these lots are less available in bigger sizes, though.Currently a recently purchased batch of fall/winter clothes is waiting in a plastic bin under the crib for cooler weather to arrive; another plastic bin is half-full of clothes she’s outgrown. Some larger hand-me-downs from her cousin are in another bin in the basement waiting for her to grow into them. We’re planning on a second child, so we’ll hang onto this stuff and re-use what we can; the rest will go back on eBay, to friends if any of them have kids by then, or to Goodwill.

  19. I love hand-me-downs as I am cheap, cheap, cheap. On kid #3, I finally wised up enough to ask people not to give me anything they wanted back, as keeping track of which item to give back to whom was making me batty.

  20. I love these kinds of posts. We have one boy and one girl with a third on the way. I used to keep almost everything and then once I was swamped with clothes I got a system.Now I only keep favorites. If I didn’t really love it the first time, chances are I won’t put it on a second kid. And I figure I’m lying to myself if I think I won’t buy anything new for second kid. I donate the rest.
    For clothes that don’t fit yet, I have one bin per kid in each of their closets. I have the worst luck buying ahead. One kid grows too fast, the other barely at all which leaves me with out of season clothes. I could use some pointers on this.
    My last rule is to keep only one bin per year per kid. It also helps me to loan out whole bins to friends with younger children. I’m looking forward to the teenage years when the kids can sort through their own clothes!

  21. I also utilize the “Moxie Method” on our clothing. Our boys are 2.5 years apart and we live in KS so seasons switch quickly. We’re only a few weeks from the day when I freak and do the same thing. Luckily I have some BFF’s with boys who are constantly passing me things for my older boy. It makes it seem like I’m always fishing through piles and piles of unsorted clothes though. And I’m already super disorganized so it drives me nuts. I always like it when we’re firmly “mid-season” and I know there’s no clothing switching coming up soon…

  22. RE: getting rid of clothingI absolutely hate this as well, but have come up with a kind of “system.” I store all clothing that my middle girl has outgrown in closet bags underneath the beds in multiple bedrooms. I then take them out when the baby is ready for them. I take the clothes that my baby has outgrown and put them in one of two large ziplock garbage-type bags in my closet (one for donation, and the nicer one to sell at the fancy kid’s consignment shop in the City). When these are full, I drop them off. My older son’s clothes, as the only boy, gets sorted into these two ziplock bags as well, and some of his t-shirts are saved for his younger sister in storage.
    Re: buying and storing clothing
    I am sort of a benign hoarder when it comes to the kids’ clothing because I don’t want to be caught needing to run out and buy them a bunch of clothing for any given season. So, I generally store “too big” clothing a year in advance. All of these clothes are placed in large plastic bags which are labeled and stored in the closet. I also break it down into “Winter” and “Summer” so I don’t have to re-sort the clothes once I am ready to swap them out. I usually swap out clothes twice per year– leaving some long sleeve shirts and pants available for all seasons. So, with three children, generally I have a year’s worth of extra clothing for my older two broken into four bags in the closet. The baby’s clothing comes from closet bags under the bed that are full of clothes from her older sister. The clothes that we don’t need anymore are stored and donated in various ways (see above).
    I cannot stress enough a few things that have worked great for us:
    1) buying clothes in advance– if you buy at the end of the season, clothing is much cheaper! Also, I collect clothing at consignment shops throughout the year so I never have to do a major shop. It’s also the way I buy holiday presents 🙂
    2) as the poster above stated, put a stain remover in all of your kids’ bedrooms so you can just treat the stains when you take off the clothes and you never have to worry about pretreating the clothes in the laundry room. This saves so much laundry time and keeps the clothes in much better shape.
    Clothing for three kids is still a total PITA, but this system works for us.

  23. My system works great in theory…. when I notice something is too small, I put it in the “too small” space in the kid’s room- for Pumpkin, that is the top shelf of her closet organizer. For Petunia, that is in the drawer under her crib. When that space gets too full, I sort the clothes by size into jumbo size zipper bags, and then store those in boxes or plastic bins in the garage. Pumpkin’s outgrown clothes are saved for Petunia. Petunia’s outgrown clothes are put in the “to donate” pile.When Petunia is close to ready to move up a size, I go retrieve the appropriate bags and wash the clothes and then put them out.
    When Pumpkin seems to need new clothes, we go shopping- I do a lot of that online these days. We also pick up random things on sale, at garage sales, etc ahead of time and store them in a big plastic zipper bin on the top shelf of her closet.
    In practice, it seems like I’m always dealing with f#&%$ing clothes. Petunia never has enough room in her drawers for things (we need to buy her a new wardrobe, rather than using the old dresser we had on hand). Pumpkin is in a phase where she’s perfectly capable of going potty at day care but chooses to have “accidents” at home (telling us, I kid you not, that the “pee is having his dinner and doesn’t want to come out” when we ask he if she wants to go potty) so we seem to need an unbelievable number of bottoms for her. And don’t even get me started on the laundry. Or the shoes. My god, Pumpkin is hard on her shoes.

  24. I have a combination of clear plastic bins and diaper boxes with clothes in them, things that the older girl has grown out of, but that the little girl can’t wear yet. I try to keep them sorted by size, but eh, it doesn’t always work out.When the little one grows out of things, I put them in diaper boxes (again, I attempt to sort by size), so I can pass on to her cousin. I think that’s probably going to stop, though, because even though the cousin in almost 18 months younger, I think she’s going to be in the same size as our girl by the time she turns 2 next spring!
    Like Carmen said above, I feel like I’m always fishing through boxes of clothes.
    I do keep a few things that I’m sentimental about in a separate box in my closet.
    As far as secondhand clothes go, I have no problems with them, but I don’t like it when people give me stuff in bad condition. When I give clothes to people, I do try to make sure that all the pieces of a set are together, outfits are matched up, everything is clean and stain free, etc.

  25. Oh, and @Erin- my favorite baby clothes that I just couldn’t get rid of… a lot of them are now enjoying a second life as clothes for Pumpkin’s rag doll.

  26. You all sound so organized! Doesn’t anyone else have the make a not necessarily hidden pile in the parents room/I swear I’ll get to it later system?I actually do have a sort of rotational system but am a terrible procrastinator. I was sooo proud when I finally went through everything a few months ago for the first time in forever and decided to what to keep for future kid #2 and what to donate and got it all boxed up, FINALLY… and now we have five boxes of stuff that have yet to make it to the family shelter donation box on our (covered) back porch. One procrastinated step at a time I suppose.

  27. I’m also obsessed with this – as pretty much all my kids wear are hand-me-downs or huge lots of second hand clothes that I buy. I also totally understand how you can get overwhelmed with big boxes of handmedowns comgin at you – and I HATE It when people want stuff back. I have one SIL who does this too me – but her clothes are too cute to resist, so I mark the tags with a little star and that makes it easier to sort later.I used to just put them in a box and deal with it ‘when I had time’ (HAHAHAHA), but that went badly and cute things got missed.
    I have a almost 2 year old boy, with no one to hand down to, and a 9 month old girl with 3 available baby girls to hand down to.
    For both – for the future sizes, whenever I get a box that needs to be sorted, I sort it out by size, and then on the outside of the box, I mark what is in it (x number of shirts, jeans, whatever) so if I get the opporunity to grab some clothes of that size cheap, I can look to see if I already may have plenty of those. For instance, I have 33 long sleeve 3T shirts. This system was needed!
    For my son, the minute he outgrows stuff, I throw it in a box, clean. I still havne’t figured out what to do with it… I was bringing it to consignment – but that was a PITA. But it’s also painful to just donate… although easier when most of it is hand me downs.
    For my daughter, the minute she outgrows something, I figure out which baby girl will be able to wear what it is, and then I put it in a diaper box for that baby. I always tell the people I’m giving to that the stuff is theirs to do with as they wish. If that hate anything, just toss or donate.
    If I get really overwhelmed with a random hand me down bag, I will give ti to my cleaning ladies! They love that!

  28. I’ve been saving all my son’s clothing since he was born (he’s now 3.5). Stage 1 is a “too small” bin in a cabinet in his room; Stage 2 is flat storage boxes under my bed (this is also where my maternity clothes live, or, alternatively, my non-maternity clothes since I’m prego again). I never had to deal with hand-me downs (I’m only child and the first of my cousins to have a kid) and though I do shop sales and consignment (love Lands’ End overstocks, too!), I’ve always been able to keep the volume of “current” clothes under control. My only trick, if you could call it that is to buy a size or two up and let his clothes be baggy w/ rolled up pants legs for a while (along with his shaggy surfer hair-do, it works for him). Some of his jeans and t-shirts he’s worn for up to a year this way.Just found out I’m having a girl. After talking with other Moms I decided it’s not entirely realistic that I’m going to put the little one in her brothers jeans and polos and stick a bow on her head and be done with it. So I need to go through everything and save some basics (onesies, plain t-shirts, gender neutral items) and maybe a handful of favorites for posterity/grandkids/baby#3 and donate the rest. Even if I have another boy someday, by then E.’s clothes will be 6-7 years old…I’d probably do better selling/giving/donating them now.
    I’m pretty ruthless with my own wardrobe– I have a very pared down closet and, other than the maternity clothes and some ski clothes, don’t store any of my own clothes (we live in NorCal, so seasonality isn’t as extreme). I like http://www.unclutterer.com for solutions on how to keep closets (both kids and adult) organized and pared down.

  29. Even though I have two boys, they are 4 years apart, so I refuse to save clothes. We donate/sell at consignment, then buy new ones on consignment/sale/clearance for the current year.I do have one of those space bags with a few little memento outfits/shoes from when the boys were itty bitty, but that’s all I have saved.

  30. OMG, you all organize your children’s clothes? I knew there was a reason I needed a hidden identity on this site. I basically do spring cleaning & fall cleaning, buy some stuff in the next size when there’s a sale…and rage twice a year at the fact that the entire effing apparel industry runs on some idealized East Coast concept of seasons. So when Mouse outgrows her corduroy pants during a freezing June, all that’s available is tank tops; and ditto for sundresses in October.I have a great friend who also has an only daughter, to whom I pass on everything that Mouse doesn’t absolutely trash.

  31. I admire all you moms’ mad organizational skills! But… I’m feeling like a bit of a spendthrift as a result. I don’t like hand me downs or the piles of new Carters clothing we get from my inlaws. I never say I don’t like them because that is so ungrateful and I know it gives my inlaws pleasure to buy baby clothes. My own parents ask me to forward BabyGap items to them so they can purchase online. As a result, my son is always dressed in BabyGap, nothing outrageously expensive, but more so for sure than my inlaws and local friends’ kids have.People make comments on what a clotheshorse I am and how my son looks like he came out of a catalog. I wear the same things over and over though, barely ever buy myself clothes. I feel kind of snobby and guilty when folks make these remarks and when I groan inwardly at the goodwill of hand me downs and those new clothes I can’t see my son wearing. I guess I am a snob! Dang, I won’t admit it to anyone though.
    As for the organizing, I like all these tips! I donate clothes to the battered women’s shelter here and also trade at the baby store- a huge box of new clothes equals a play pen for me!
    Hope other secret snobs speak up. Of course, I wouldn’t be such a petty clotheshorse if my parents didn’t request my BabyGap clothing lists every month!

  32. 2 girls, ages 3y and 9m. I have a complex system of tubs and drawers in their closet (which is a closet to die for!), all labeled w/the appropriate sizes. I buy ahead for the older one and store those by size also. So far, I have held on to things as the baby grows out of them, although I’m pretty sure that we won’t have another child. And if we do have another, s/he will wear the same 3 outfits in rotation b/c the youngest child always gets screwed. Haha. I joke b/c the baby has never worn a pair of shoes, yet she has several handed down from her sister. Also, to make things easier, the baby wears her sisters socks (if she wears socks at all). Luckily (I think?) the girls are only about 5lbs apart in size and I expect they will weigh about the same within a year and they can share clothes until they are old enough to realize just how terrible it is. 🙂

  33. I have no system, I have diaper boxes full of clothes too small and clear bins of clothes, I have a basket of new items bought on clearance that i hope have timed right and boxes of hand me downs in the next size up. I was just recently thinking I need to get a handle on this situation. I do love hand me downs for every day wear and then I can splurge on something really cute from Boden kids!!

  34. No helpful system to offer, just a “thank god” i’m not the only one with a sock problem. I currently have ten unmatched single socks, for my 18 month old, lined up on the dresser. In the morning, in a mad rush before daycare, I scour the house in the vain hope that a match will turn up. When that fails, I ponder which two singles are at least in the same colour family. Where did all the other socks go?? I’ve decided that stealing single baby socks from someone else’s laundry is a masterful way to drive someone completely crazy.

  35. I paid $30 to my church to have someone garage sale shop on my behalf (there was a services auction fundraiser, and I trolled for such help), since my kids are old for my peer group, and we don’t have a great many sources of hand me downs.It worked out nicely and I suspect I’m set for two years of snowsuits and shirts, though pants seem to wear out on boys before they make it to the used market.
    I am in the “stuff the outgrown stuff into any of the plastic bins it might fit in” and the related “dump three bins on the kitchen floor and paw through them all for what you want” school of management, though.

  36. @Lumberjack- it is your (and your parents)’ money, so I say dress your kid how you want. It will all come crashing down soon enough, when the kid starts insisting on choosing his own clothes, right? The people making those comments probably spend their money in some way you think is crazy.My kids wear a mix of hand me downs, Carters, Target, Old Navy, Baby Gap, Hanna Anderson (talk about pricey but man do those clothes last), and incredibly cute stuff my New Zealand in laws send over and I’m glad I don’t know the cost of.

  37. @Lumberjack, honestly, Mouse often could have stepped out of a Mini Boden catalog. They’re similar to Hanna Andersson in terms of pricey but can take a beating, and both she and I like them. (I do love the Hanna Andersson playdress/daydress combo too.) I don’t know that I’m a snob but at the moment we’re in a fortunate situation and can afford it. When that was less the case, I bought a lot of things at Children’s Place megasales – super cute but don’t last quite as well. Other times may require other strategies.It’s funny, Mouse was actually just offered her first ever hand-me-downs from a 3rd-grader that she admires and she was super excited because having M’s clothes would be like a present. We gladly accepted.

  38. @Charisse: you must live in the SF Bay Area; I’ve had the same problem looking for warmer pants and long sleeved t-shirts in June (eventually found them at Lands’ End Overstocks btw). Clearly there are no local buyers at the big chains to deal with our micro-climate!@Lumberjack: I’m not a brand snob, but I am a style snob– in fact, I haven’t told my in-laws I’m having a girl because I’m scared of he tidal wave of pink ruffly princess gear that will immediately follow (delaying the inevitable, I know, plus eventually she’ll beg me to buy it anyway). When people give me stuff I don’t want, I smile, say ‘Thank you, how sweet of you’ and either (a) put it on only when the individual in question is around or (b) donate it immediately.
    I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has a Zara and that Zara has a kids’ department as does the H&M– the clothes are dirt cheap (even cheaper than Target, often) and v. Euro & hip. That being said, I’ve found stylish but thrifty clothes for my son at cool kids’ consignment stores in our area, Target, Old Navy, Lands’ End (esp. overstocks) and, yes, Baby Gap (the sale rack at Baby Gap is amazing).
    The weird thing is, I have no problem shopping for my kid and am constantly on the lookout for deals (I don’t actually end up spending that much money on his clothes and his wardrobe is not too voluminous)…but I *hate* shopping for myself.

  39. I also go through everything seasonally (twice a year really) and try to do it early – like a month or so before the weather changes. There’s nothing worse than having the first cold day and finding out your toddler has absolutely no pants!I label bins with stuff to be saved for the next kid, pack away garage sale items, and bag up things to be donated. I grab a notebook and jot down who needs what and also make a note of what we don’t need (so I don’t buy something on sale just because it’s a good deal) and carry that list in my wallet.
    Also, we have a front coat closet in our house that we don’t really use, so I keep all the kids coats that don’t currently fit anyone or are out of season hung up there. That way I can easily grab all the coats from the next size without having to dig through bins.
    One other thing I have found is that a large armoire with shelves works much better than a dresser in the kids room. The kids can see most of their clothing at once when the doors are open and they are usually deep enough to hold two layers of clothes. I can put out of season or dressy clothes in the back pile, and current season every day clothes in the front. I add baskets to hold socks and underwear.

  40. Now that I have a baby girl, I am all about getting rid of stuff as it is outgrown. I have an older boy.I have two tubs in my guest room. As the kids outgrow things I throw items in the tubs, a boy tub and girl tub. I was giving stuff away on freecyle as the tubs filled up, but now I am doing thredup.com boxes.
    I have bins of clothes in other sizes, all labelled, and I try to go through them once in a while and see what I have. It is really hard to keep on top of it, though. I feel like it’s all I’ve been doing for the past four months (my 20 pound four month old needs new clothes every other week. She’s just starting size 12 mo in some brands).

  41. Stuff that’s too big goes into the doesn’t-fit-yet drawer.Stuff that’s too small goes onto the very-visible-in-the-parents’-room pile, en route to a friend with whom I still check every time before I hand ’em over.
    Little bitty stuff that I loved and couldn’t bear to part with went into a quilt. I don’t remember the company who made it, but google tells me there are several choices out there. I love that quilt and still sniffle whenever I look at it.
    We haven’t received any hand-me-downs, though we’d have no objection if we did. I buy at Hanna Andersson, The Gap, and occasionally Children’s Place. I used to get some disposable-type stuff at Target, but I’ve quit shopping there.
    2-3 times a year (scheduled for tomorrow, in fact), I go through everything to look for shortfalls and rotate seasonal stuff.
    I wish I were as organized as some of you all!

  42. I use your system almost exactly, Moxie!2 boys, 19 months apart, unfortunately born in different seasons (beginning of spring vs midwinter). I buy ahead a bit for Older Son when I find something on fantastic sale or at a thrift/consignment/discount store. That stuff goes in a fabric-covered storage box in our guest room because the guest room closet has already been turned into the craft closet (sorry, guests, must use every inch of space).
    I save anything Older Son outgrows in a plastic bin in the basement for Younger Son & get him to try stuff on when the season changes. It’s been a bummer when we get to the start of fall & find out that because of the season difference between my kids, Younger Son has skipped over a pant size that I have a ton of from Older Son, so we do still buy some new stuff for Younger Son, but not until we’ve gone through the saved clothes in the bin.
    A tip for new mom’s – find ONE shirt and ONE pair of pants/dress/etc. that fit your kid & then all you have to do is measure the other clothing items against those. The kid doesn’t have to be involved beyond finding the first set of stuff-that-fits (also works for shopping – take along something you know fits your kid NOW & you can measure for future – saves a surprising amount of angst).
    I have a friend with a boy younger than Younger Son (who loves getting hand-me-downs – I’m shocked by the people who don’t like them, good to know for future reference!), so I keep a cardboard mailing box in the basement & throw in Younger Son’s outgrown stuff for her son. I mail the box whenever it’s full. However, since we do have the seasonal issue (no use sending outgrown shorts in the end of fall that her son will have outgrown by the time summer arrives), I also keep a Goodwill box/bag on the screened-in back porch & put stuff in there that’s not appropriate to send on to her. Again, once that’s full, I drop it off or take advantage of one of those pick-up notices I get in the mail sometimes.
    I have a hard time letting go of some of their stuff, so I have 2 bins of clothes & favorite baby toys in the basement saved from their baby/toddler years. I periodically go through them (once a year) & see if there’s anything I can stand to let go. So far, I cull a couple of items each time, but do plan to keep the bulk of really good stuff (Hanna Andersson, organic cotton, handmade, etc.) for the future. My mom did this & it was an absolute kick to see my boys wearing overalls that I remember from my childhood (gender neutral. The sturdy, timeless stuff actually holds up well (especially for boys).
    This reminds me, I have a box to mail to my friend! Just dropped the goodwill stuff off today – cleaning up for my in-laws visit this weekend.

  43. I have two boys that are 4 3/4 years apart. I keep a diaper box in the closet that I toss the eldest’s too small clothing in as I notice it. When that box is overflowing I sort it by season and size, label it, and stick it in the basement. I only kept the eldest’s clothing up to 18m sizes because I wasn’t sure we were having a second and I didn’t want to store all those clothes.I keep a small laundry basket next to the baby’s crib and I toss all his too small clothes in there. When it gets full I offer it out on fb and give it to the first friend who responds that they want it.
    When I need more baby clothes I put up a status on fb saying I need boys clothes size 2T does anyone have hand-me-downs? THen I’m inundated with free clothes. When I need more clothes for the eldest I tell my mom because she LOVES to shop for them and my husband asks around at work because he has several co-workers with tall skinny boys who are a couple years older than Henry.
    I rarely spend $ on clothes. I like to think that by keeping the kid clothing moving through our hands it contributed to kid clothing karma and we’ll get back what we need. So far it works.

  44. Our “system” is a bag in each closet for anything that is too small. Anything holey or too stained gets pitched right away. I also have a good will bag on the back of the door to my room, and I am constantly filling that with stuff. At the end of the season, I go through the drawers and the too small bags and either put things into the goodwill bag, or if I think they are something that should be passed on, pack the clothes in rubbermaid containers. M’s clothes go immediately to my friend for her daughter. B’s clothes go in the attic for L to use and L’s clothes are in the attic anxiously awaiting the arrival of my SIL’s new baby.We get lots of boy clothes from the friends I give M’s clothes to, and for a long time I just shoved them in the attic and tried to find things as I needed when B went up a size. That worked well for a while, but then there got to be so many of them, they weren’t well labeled, etc. and I kept on finding things I could have used but didn’t because I didn’t find it until B had outgrown it. So now I am slowly sorting all of those clothes and putting them in labeled plastic containers for B and L’s future use. Once they are better organized, it is my plan to look through the appropriate size box for each boy seasonally, then just buy whatever is lacking. That’s what I was doing before and it worked well, but I think it will be much easier now that the items are sorted better. Also, my attic is less messy!
    I also have a box in each kid’s closet for anything that I have bought/they receive as a gift that is too big for them currently. Seasonally, I look through that and see if there is anything that would fit them.
    With socks, I try and buy the same kind, but it is hard, especially with M–she likes colorful and fancy socks. I have a lost sock drawer and I try and go through it and pair things up twice a month. If you are still in the sock drawer for 3-4 rounds without a mate, you get pitched.
    I probably spend too much on M’s clothes. But she is the only girl I will have and we both love them! Also, her clothes are worn by three other little girls of friends when she is done with them. I buy good stuff, mostly on sale/through overstocks and it lasts and lasts and it makes me smile when I see it on my friend’s two year old, still in good shape five years later! Plus, I barely spend anything on B and L’s clothes because we have so many hand-me-downs. I am sure this system could be improved upon, but so far it has worked for us!

  45. Sock problems be gone! I put my kids’ socks in a hosiery bag immediately after taking them off their feet. It gets washed with their stuff, and we never lose them.

  46. I hate clothes maintenance.My system is fairly new so probably a bit on the ambitious side.
    I pull clothes out of the clean laundry when I notice they don’t fit a kid right. I put them in a pile in my room. When I get about 8-10 items, I store them in clear plastic bins. I have 2 bins for every size (a bin for long sleeve/long pants and short sleeves/shorts). Once a month I try to do an assessment of the quantity of clothes in each child’s dresser/closet. If it’s getting low I move to the next size higher and start pulling from that size. I keep the current sizes handy so I can pull more clothes out when needed.

  47. We do a variation on the “bins” but (lucky me) my cousin & BFF actually kind of do it for me — we have children the same ages but opposite genders. My BFF has a girl 2 years older than my girl (who is my older). I get my BFF’s daughter’s entire wardrobe as hand-me-down for my DD and my cousin’s son’s entire wardrobe as hand-me-down for my son. My cousin gets my DD’s wardrobe for her daughter (her daughter is the same age as my son). So all my DD”s clothes are pre-sorted in bins a season ahead, as are my DS’s. I pass girl clothes to my cousin the same way. Pre-sorted in bins by size & season.It’s awesome. I spend NONE of my own money on their clothes. We get some new things as gifts but that’s it. I buy shoes, socks and underwear. Thankfully, my cousin and BFF have excellent taste and generous extended families, so even if I get things that don’t fit my (very narrow, conservative, anti-licensed character & any visible brand name or slogan) taste, we always have plenty of clothes.

  48. Another Moxie Method adherent here, with a few variations:- I buy 80% of T’s stuff at the neighborhood consignment shop. (Local also = appropriate for local seasons, which helps with the cords-in-SF-July thing. Bay Area folks: Chloe’s Closet rocks.) I buy up to 2 sizes ahead, which is all i can store in his 1 extra cupboard.
    – Shoes and socks get bought new in a panic each time he grows a size, usually from Zappos or oldnavy.com. I’m allergic to the mall.
    – When a bin gets full, I sort out about half to a third of it to sell back at Chloe’s – the stuff we didn’t really love – so we always have a wee bit of credit there.
    – I just can’t seem to bring myself to sell/give away the bulk of the stuff. (I have a huge baby-gear lending library in my storage area though – some of it’s been out 5 times in 4 years.) We’re 99% one-and-done, but… I treat the bins like birth control. If I give them away, i know the universe will laugh and make me pregnant. And then what the hell will I do?!

  49. @Lumberjack, @Charisse & others – I’m *so* with you. I am super-picky about what BabyT wears, though I happily accept (and ruthlessly sort through) hand me downs. I think somehow I’m making up for not being much of a dress-up-dolly girl when I was a kid :)I don’t dress T in anything with brand names emblazoned across the front, no snotty sayings (like “drama queen” for example), nothing overly girly (“princess”, “Cutie pie”, tiaras, butterflies, etc) and I tend to shop boys’ and girls’ sections equally. If we get clothes as gifts and I’m not a huge fan, we’ll take a picture in them but they don’t go into the rotation (unless it’s a sleeper or something I needed anyway).
    I’m also not a fan of the Carter’s stuff, if only that it just all looks the same – it does seem to hold up pretty well. I’m really sick of pastel, baby animal crap.
    We have a Hanna Andersson outlet here, which reminds me, it’s probably time for a trip over there 🙂
    Since we’re not sure about more kids, I’ve kept everything, though any hand-me-downs T didn’t wear the first time are going away.
    I have bins by size for all the outgrown stuff, and the future size stuff is in her dresser drawers by size and season. I’m sort of anal-retentive that way.
    When I dress her in the morning, anything that doesn’t fit goes into the bin for the current size which lives in her closet and then eventually gets moved to the basement.
    Every couple of months, I go through all the current clothes to make sure I didn’t leave behind anything too-small.
    She only has 3 drawers of current clothes, so if they’re getting full, it means I either need to purge old sizes, or STOP buying stuff. I love shopping for the babe. I used to love shopping for myself until I got pregnant 🙁
    BRILLIANT idea about one kind of socks @My Kids Mom. My husband has had this system for himself since he was in college and I always thought it was BRILLIANT. We might institute this for BabyT once the current socks are outgrown.
    Also, re: socks – I always wash and dry baby socks in a lingerie mesh bag, otherwise they just disappear. The washer repair dude says they either get stuck between the washer basket and the outer wall of the washer, or get sucked up into the dryer vent so now I corral them.
    I also like the stain stick idea. You guys are great.

  50. My system sounds pretty much like what most people here do. Bins for each size/gender. I add outgrown clothes to the bins once I’ve got a pile of 8-10 items residing on the top closet shelf. I have a boy bin and a girl bin for too-big items, and I go through those every couple of months to pull out anything that currently fits/will fit soon.When we receive hand-me-downs or gifts (both of which we are really grateful for), I go through and immediately donate to Goodwill or a friend anything that has a licensed character or a prominent brand name. I also try to shop the sale racks a year ahead, but I don’t buy too much, because I’m blessed to have two sets of grandparents who love to buy clothes for the kids on sale or at consignment stores, so I only have to buy filler items occasionally.
    Because I have two boys (3 years and newborn), I’m more likely to spend a little more on high quality items that will last through both kids. I have one girl (18 months), plus girls’ clothes are cuter and easier to find, so I’m more likely to find cheap stuff that I like at Target or H and M.
    We live near the beach in Southern California, so the temperature is pretty mild all year round, so pants, long sleeves, short sleeves, and dresses/skirts are useful all year round. We just add and remove layers as necessary.

  51. @Cloud, thanks for that! Totally true, and I don’t feel like so much of a children clothing elitist. My folks really like to see my son dressed nice and I reckon once it got started, I couldn’t go back…@Charisse, I’ve never heard of Boden! My mom would probably like to look up their stuff. We live in AK so not many places to get clothes besides the grocery store.
    @Bluebirdmama, ohhh yes, styling babies is my secret hobby… I get very proud of how some of baby boy’s outfits turn out. Congrats on the girl! I love pink girly things, but just not on people.
    Sorry for straying so far from topic! Especially since this is my second post on Moxie’s site, I’ll stay on topic next time I promise.

  52. I have twin boys with only 2 kinds of socks, so that eliminates a lot of the hassle (just wash and donate). BUT, I am way too reactive when it comes to getting new clothes. Now that the hand-me-downs have dried up, I do exactly what Moxie does, and periodically freak out that everything is too small and then go buy a few new things. I’m sure I could save money if I planned better.

  53. I’m just glad that buying new Carter’s clothes for my kids doesn’t make me a snob. I love that stuff, live near an outlet, and hate hand-me-downs. So Carter’s it is for us. Bad financially, but it makes me happy and we can afford it at the moment.

  54. Why should anyone feel guilty for buying new clothes for her kid? As long as you aren’t choosing designer clothes over essentials like food, I don’t see the problem.The way I see it, it is a balance between time and money. If I have the money, and I want to spend some of it to buy me more time for things I like to do more than scour garage sales and clearance racks, then why shouldn’t I?

  55. One thing I’ve done since my bub was about 6 months only was to implement a one colour sock rule. I only buy him navy socks from one store so I never have to match socks. I just throw them all in a big pile and pull two out when I need them.I had so many cutesy socks when he was little and it was a drag keeping track of them – partially since they are so damn small.

  56. I have five kids and I hate sorting clothes less than I used to. (< -Best I can say about it.) I go through drawers about twice a year and pull out wrong-size/wrong-season clothes. Anything that will probably fit nine months later goes on the kid's closet shelf. Everything outgrown goes into a plastic grocery bag, labeled in Sharpie with a big number and perhaps the season (3T summer). Plastic grocery bags go to the clothes storage shelf. I prefer bags over tubs because they're always on hand, I can squash them into little corners, and they hold a reasonable amount of clothing so that I don't get overwhelmed when I am rotating bigger clothes into the dressers. I can do a bag at a time if I'm busy. I always, always plan something nice for myself after I'm done sorting clothes because it is SUCH a grind. I'd rather scrub an oven than sort clothes.My four boys only wear those Hanes socks with different-colored letters on the soles (with rare exceptions: soccer uniform socks and a pair of hand-knit socks for sleeping in). If my mother-in-law brings me a bag of socks that she picked up on a bargain shelf, I give it away unopened. Life is too short to spend it matching socks. I am also a fan of teaching kids early how to deal with laundry. I hand out laundry chores left and right in response to clothes left where they don't belong. Some of that is to send the message that I am not their maid; some of it is to teach them early on that a basket of laundry is no big deal unless you let it multiply. I tell you what, though, it is really nice to be able to tell one kid to fold all of the jeans and another kid to pair all of the socks and then just have the leftovers to do myself. One more thing and then I will be done with my monster comment. I used to dump laundry on the guest bed to fold it (or not), but this summer I decided I was going to leave unfolded laundry in the living room and fold it on the couch. This is hugely motivating for me, because who wants a living room full of unfolded laundry? In the guest room it might pile up for a couple of weeks. I've been reasonably caught up since I instituted the new system.

  57. I have two boxes in the kids closet:Out of season but close in size
    Not the right size for anyone at this moment.
    The former gets hauled out as the seasons change or in case of emergency cold front/early hot spells. The latter gets dealt with a couple times per year, when I sort by gender and size and donate what we no longer need. As the seasons change, I also go down to the basement where I can pull the right box out from last time I sorted and labeled.
    It’s not perfect, but it cuts down on my thinking time.
    I don’t get a lot of hand me downs, but I do a lot of 2nd hand stores.

  58. I’m only halfway through the comments but I just have to laugh and say that I never thought it would be clothes that would make @Cloud (almost) curse! Now back to reading and eventually posting my system.

  59. @Lumberjack – What @BlueBirdMama said about being a “style snob” but not a “brand snob,” totally! I enjoy selecting a very particular style of outfits for my kids, like it is my hobby that I wish I could devote more time to but realize it is superficial & lame. The look I have in mind is like they are going to an “Official Preppy Handbook” party: madras, pink & green, Lily Pulitzer-looking print dresses, puffy vests, embroidered animals on khaki pants, etc.Hardly anything they wear is new, maybe socks and shoes only. Thrift stores are my BFF. I find brands there that you would not even believe. I love to mix high and low, including the occasional WalMart and Sears stuff that looks timeless. I go thrifting about twice a month and if I see something preppy in any size that one of the kids can grow into, I snatch it up. Also love outlets. The kids’ wardrobe is something I collect over time. My almost-3 yr old DS and my 11 mos old today DD each have stuff in their closets right now that will fit them when they are 8. Yeah, I’m oddly obsessive about this. It is my one “thing” I guess because I am a total slacker in so many other areas… in fact, one of my silly regrets is that I’ve dressed DS so much cuter his whole life than I have DD – who had a poorly dressed phase from about months 3-9 when Joan Rivers totally would have laughed her right off the red carpet. Is there a support group I could join?

  60. Remember Moxie’s question a while back about what chore is sucking the life out of you? (I’m paraphrasing.) Clothing-sorting is it for me, for sure.I really try not to give unsolicited advice to parents to be, but as someone who tried to be thrifty and store things in diaper boxes, I now encourage people to buy those plastic boxes with the hinged, interlocking wing lids.
    That, and the Parent Hacks tip about one sock color per age. I actually ended up going for two, but it still helped.

  61. Huh. I am disorganized in so many ways, but feel relatively on top of clothes, so it surprises me that so many of you hate it! Maybe my “organized” is your “disorganized”!Basically the same system: I collect and periodically box up the clothes and label them (age and season). We live in New England and so I do two major seasons, hot and cold. On the box I also note anything special, like swimming suits or coats, and also gender, since we have a 3-y-o boy and a 15-mos girl. (I want a third … my husband doesn’t … and I’m saving all clothing until that gets resolved!)
    Just before summer or fall I go and do a big shop for the season at the local consignment shop. When the kids are older maybe that will change, but right now I love it because the clothes are good quality and brands and I don’t have to deal with shopping all around. I occasionally buy ahead but, with the exception of things like hats, mostly find it too troublesome/prone to error, and it doesn’t really cost extra to buy for the season at the consignment shop. Also, before I go I sort through stored clothing for the appropriate age so that I don’t overbuy. (I do buy on sale online sometimes, Tea and Zutano yum!)
    We do buy new shoes and, for the older, coats for the kids every year.
    Occasionally I throw out stuff that I just didn’t like or use. I get a few hand-me-downs from a friend with great taste, and a lot of yard-sale finds from my MIL. I often don’t like her taste and she’s always bringing more despite us asking her to cut back, so I don’t feel bad about Goodwilling what she brings.
    My challenges: 1) during spring and fall you need clothing for a wide range of temperatures. The bureau drawers get so full I can’t close them. 2) Things always escape my sweeps and then I find them later and have to figure out where to store them. 3) I hate kids’ clothing sizes: they vary so much and sometimes I can’t tell if something escaped a clothing sweep or whether it was just overlarge for its labeled size.

  62. My son loves mis-matched socks, so we’re good there. He intentionally will separate a pair to wear one skull and crossbones with one grey camouflage. It’s endearing…or just easy. I’ll even pair them up in the laundry mis-matched if I find two that I think will look cute together.

  63. Don’t have time to read the comments now, so please forgive any repetition.Our system is similar to others: The bottom drawer in DS’ dresser is where the ‘too big’ clothes live. Hand-me-downs have really tapered off recently (he’s 2y2m), so it’s not too crowded in there. When I notice something is too small (either as I’m putting it in the laundry or if I get it out for him and it looks way too small) I put it in his closet in shopping bags I have hanging from hangers, so I can just stuff it in.
    I do a proper sort when I feel like it/have time – probably around 3-4 times per year, or when the shopping bags are too stuffed to fit anything else. I sort into piles of donate for things that we didn’t like (mostly due to fit or fabric issues), things to lend – clothes we like but don’t mind lending or potentially loosing by lending, favorites to use in the father/son quilt I am making for DH as a Christmas or Father’s Day gift – using DS’ baby clothes and DH’s old shirts, and finally a few favorites (and all the hand knits that DH made) to keep either for a 2nd baby or just because. Anything we keep gets stored in see-thru plastic bins by age. The bins are kept in DS’ closet. So this system can still work for someone in a very urban area with not a lot of storage.
    Regarding the hand-me-downs, I’ll usually bring a few bags for people and get them to look through and pick what they want (or just take the whole bundle if they prefer), as I totally understand the not wanting to build up clutter thing. I also put DS’ intitals in anything we lend (for anything we want to get back), so it’s easier for the lendee to return and keep track of (or ask first if they want to have anything we’d like returned).
    As for socks, we never seem to have a problem. I love folding laundry so usually the socks get paired up right after coming out of the dryer (or, you know, days after coming out of the dryer). We have a small drawer in our change table that I keep all of the socks in. It’s hard to find socks that fit DS properly (i.e. aren’t too tight on his calves), so we have a lot of the same sock – makes it much easier for matching & finding mates. Also, we used old baby socks on our dog (inside her booties for the winter) to keep her a bit more dry/warm, so a lot of old socks have gotten used up this way!

  64. I’m a HUGE Hanna Andersson snob, and here’s why: The are made of cast iron.My two girls are part of a 6-girl handmedown ladder between myself, my best friend, and her SIL.
    My secondborn is now wearing Hannas that I got (used, no less!) for my firstborn and previously passed to my best friend’s firstborn. They have tons more life in them and will definitely make it through at least one more kid before someone consigns them for a tidy sum.
    That said, I’ll take any handmedowns. I have never bought anything new at full price for any of my kids; it seems like a waste for something that only gets worn for a matter of months!
    The only handmedowns I HATE with a PASSION are those with strings attached – like, someone wants them back and is going to be pissed if they get lost or damaged.
    And there are increasingly more Hannas and other nice organic cotton things that I’ve bought for my firstborn (the biggest of our handmedown ladder) that I’ll be hanging onto for my second instead of passing through my BFF’s incredibly destructive tomboy of a 2 year old! LOL. 🙂

  65. @BlueBirdMama et al – A style snob. That’s it! I’m a style snob! My mother stopped buying clothes for me in my mid teens as I was too impossible to buy for.I must admit that at least when you get hand-me-downs for boys, for the most part they are not offensive or widely ranging in style, so I’m happy with the hand-me-downs we get (unless it’s some overly character merchandised stuff which I’m not fond of and generally avoid). They tend actually to be more on the other side – boring. I’m sooooo tired of Navy. My other pet peeve is clothes that are mini versions of adult or teen wear. There’ll be plenty of time for that later. I want him to look his age – 2. Granted a groovy, stylish, modern 2, but 2 nonetheless. I mean, I figure he won’t be able to/want to wear this cute stuff forever, so I’m trying to take advantage of it now.
    I would imagine that all these issues are amplified for girls and am happy that we (in a way) have it so easy for clothes. Which makes me kind of laugh as when I found out we were having a boy all I could think was ‘Boys! What do I know about boys?!’ I had all kinds of ideas of what to do for girls – clothes, birthday parties, room decorations etc. – as part of my own style is very girly (despite the fact that I don’t really like/wear pink or frills & ruffles) so it comes a lot more naturally. But I actually really like figuring out boys’ stuff now (without doing it in an overly stereotypical way).
    But anyhow, the secret of all style snobs is mixing the less expensive with the expensive (as others’ have mentioned). And any brand loyalty I have is usually related to quality and fit or quality & fit & design. If it just looks good and it’s not cutting it on a functional level, I’m not buying it (literally & figuratively).
    In our case, a lot of DS’ clothes come from Joe Fresh, which comes from our grocery store. Can I tell you how convenient yet simultaneously dangerous that is? Quality is decent and the prices are amazing. Pants tend to come from GAP & Obaibi/Okaidi due to the fact that their pants always have the elastic adjuster thing in the waist, and considering DS switches between cotton and disposable diapers, this is essential. We get a lot more wear out of each pair. Occasionally we shop at other stores, usually when we do our twice yearly trip to Okaidi, but, um, have I mentioned how convenient it is to shop for your kids’ clothes when you do the groceries?
    And one last note on the sock thing, I loved DS’ socks when he was little (Trumpette cheeritoes)- purposely mismatched – one sock with stripes and one with dots. Even though they were pricey, I found they always stayed on (while not squeezing his ankle too much) and I could match them however I wanted. Sadly, they don’t make sizes in that style bigger than 0-12 mos or he’d still be wearing them! Going to plain socks afterward seemed so…boring.

  66. I just want to say, keep a few of the really awesome things you love, or things *they* love, for grandkids. I have a couple of dresses my mom saved that I got to put on my daughter the last couple of years and it is priceless — real vintage to boot! My son’s current favorite shirt is a button-up short sleeved lime green number that my grandma made for my brother to wear in my aunt’s wedding (got all that?) 20+ years ago. Too much clutter is death, but I’ll make space for a bin or two of the best clothes so I can bring them out in triumph in a few decades.

  67. I bought twenty pairs of white socks at old navy. This upon the advice of a friend for my four and five year old boy and girl. I have been in ecstasy every morning now for two weeks when I have matching socks for everyone at my fingertips. I will never go back to cute socks. Where do they go?? I have even gone so far as to buy duplicates of cute socks so they will always have a match and it still doesn’t work.

  68. I am great about purging and organizing my own closet, but hopeless about my son’s. It’s one of those tasks that requires focus, but you also sort of need the little fella nearby to know what’s too small, and it feels hopeless to try to do his closet while he’s underfoot. Wish I had the answer.

  69. same system as most here – take the too-smalls out of the clean pile & put in a diaper box in a downstairs closet. that goes to a friend (p) who is hoping to convince her hubby to have #2 and is also a major packrat. but that’s fine, since most of it was hers to start with – i like hand-me-downs. i also get a lot from my stepsister, but she’s done & doesn’t want them back.when i get clothes, they are sorted by size into the chest of drawers in j’s closet. i go through the in-use wad once a season or so. anything that might possibly fit next time the season comes around goes into that size’s drawer, and the rest to the diaper box for p. if i get things i don’t like from p or ss, they go right to p’s box or a goodwill pile.
    i have a small drawer of stuff i’m not getting rid of yet. it helps that i’m planning on one & done.
    i buy some stuff since i like j to have a few shirts that are my style choice, but p likes to thrift shop & sometimes finds things for him.
    can i also say how much i hate the ‘daddy’s big leaguer’ crap on boys’ clothes? pisses me off, especially since j & many many other boys don’t actually *have* a daddy.

  70. I have an only child, so it’s easy. I keep a sturdy paper shopping bag on the top shelf of her closet, and put the too-smalls in there for donation. I keep a smaller bag to sort the better quality ones like Hannas or something that was very gently worn to give to a friend whose younger daughter likes to re-use them. She’s the one who needs the storage system because my child is growing faster than hers so she is ahead a few sizes!Amy Dacyzyn (Tightwad Gazette) talked about how she had a basement storage system of plastic tubs labeled with size and sex. With 6 kids, I believe you’d have to do something if you planned to re-use anything. I think that is probably the hardest part of having only two children of the same sex–deciding what should be saved for the younger.
    I don’t save socks or underwear for donation. There was a time when shoes didn’t get much of a workout so I could donate them, but a schoolage child kills them.
    I always save my coats and hats for coat drives. I used to take clothing to Once Upon a Child for resale, but now I strictly do donations. It just isn’t worth the hassle. It was a great way to get rid of baby gear, though. I have a feeling these places will be victims of the bedbug invasion, though.

  71. Nope, there is nothing you can do. I found many Armani pants for $24, marked from 150, awesome, right? he never wore them, never fit them, would have had to be several yrs younger than the label said, how am I supposed to know. Also, I live in the city with closets full of bins, sometimes we find the clothes in time, sometimes we don’t. Thats why I post Childrens Place coupons, their elastic waist pants are the only thing keeping me sane!www.gaynycdad.com

  72. I have two boys, 7 years and 7 months apart. My system: sturdy copy paper boxes labelled with the size of the clothing marked in fat black Sharpie on the outside of the box AND the lid, and then taped shut with clear packing tape.When Big Red outgrew his clothes, they immediately went into a box and into the closet garage, depending on which house we were living in. 4 years later the boxes labelled newborn, 0-3 mo, 3-6 mo, 6-9 mo, 12 mo, 18 mo and 2T got brought to my brother’s house for his two boys. Those came back to me three years later when I had Little Brown and they even had a few new things added to them! (The cousins didn’t get the larger sizes boxes.)
    When Little Brown outgrows a size, I take down the next box of larger clothes to go in his drawers and then I donate ALL of the too-small clothes to either a thrift store or the women’s and children’s shelter. This method has worked very well, and once they get to the 2T/3T size, this only had to be done about once a year. We live in Alaska, so the current season (it’s either Winter or non-Winter haha) clothes are at the front of the drawer and the non-season are at the back of the drawer. And I ONLY ONLY ONLY buy white socks. Period. That way I don’t have to worry about matching or missing ones.

  73. Ok, I’m coming to the discussion late because the red shirting discussion kept me rapt for a few days. And I haven’t read all the comments yet, so this may have been addressed. But I have a question.What is the math on buying end of season clothes for next year? How many sizes up do go? I keep underestimating how big my kid is going to be next year and end up with things slightly too small for him. Mind you, he’s not quite 28 months old and moving into 4T tops.
    The tips I’ve read so far are so much better than my current system. I’m going out today to buy stain sticks.

  74. I’m too lazy to read all the comments, but in what I read, I didn’t see it mentioned. Two words: MOM SALE. It’s a great way to recoup some of the money spent on clothing, as well as shop for discounted prices on nice stuff in good shape.My stepkids are 11 and 9, opposite sexes. Probably a bit older than many other Moxie readers’ kids, so things are a bit different for us. Clothing we purchase is labeled upon first wash so as not to get mixed up with clothes from their mom’s house. (long, awful, story involving mom screaming on the phone at 10 pm during a snow storm threatening to wake kids up and bring them to get “her” clothes back)
    There’s no sharing (boy/girl) and no one we know personally who can use their hand-me-downs, so as I notice clothes that are too small coming into the laundry, I wash them, pull them and store them for twice a year mom sales in our area. I usually make enough from the sales to justify a fun splurge for the family, or sometimes just for me.
    I buy for them on clearance as much as possible, no more than a season ahead (as they are growing in such fits and starts that buying too far ahead leaves us with never worn clothing either because their tastes change or the clothes don’t fit), and at consignment or thrift shops when I can find good quality stuff in good condition.
    We do major overhauls at the start of school, christmas time, and at the end of school. This entails a day set aside for sitting in each kid’s room and having them try on each item to see whether it will last them until the next year, and also having them tell me what they hate/will not wear any more. That way I have a good idea of their current tastes as well as current sizes. I can confidently shop when they aren’t with me. It’s also a great way to get one on one time with each kid and chit chat. Some amazing conversations have come out of these fashion shows!

  75. I fear coming across as a spendthrift snob here but here goes anyway…..To begin with DH and I moved from 1200 sq ft in house form out of London to 565 sq.ft of apartment in London. Then we had DD now 2.5.
    To fit all of three wardrobes and all linens and towels into the place means being very ruthless.
    We have three sets of the linens and towels so we have one on, one in the wash and one for those inevitable times.
    Fortunately the UK has a mild climate and London is hotter than anywhere else, so layering is king. Most of all three wardrobes is multi-season. We all have some warm weather and some cold weather items.But not many.
    And we share one closet which has no room whatever for plastic bins. We all share the one hanging rail.
    DH, the linens and towels use up the shelves and the top shelf is for the printer and electronics and suitcases for DH’s frequent business travel. The floor has shoe racks.
    We have one small hamper and I wash and dry daily. We’re not allowed to have washing visible near any window, so the delicates are hung in front of the drafty door. The tumble dryer does the lion share of drying.
    DD also has a chest of drawers we use as a dresser and I have one drawer for underwear and accessories in it. She has one for clothes and one for pyamas and linens.
    I hang her coats and her sweaters and cardigans, all else fits in the drawers.
    Her growth has slowed down, but is still going strong. I buy twice a year for most things, and seasonally for others like t-shirts light trousers and sweaters and coats and warm,lined trousers.
    I can never predict how much she grows but most of all not how. Sounds bizarre but sometimes it’s all in the legs ( winter/spring) and now it’s all in the body this following summer.I don’t buy in advance ever.
    So the T-shirts that were rather too long are now too short three months on. I always buy the size up for her as she’s 99th centile for height so buying right-fit doesn’t work. I roll trousers and sleeves and three months on they’re either just right or too short.
    DD has very severe but controlled eczema so does not deal well with heat so no wool or synthetic fabrics.
    Also so many clothes here have plastic yarn on the inside of the shoulders and many unfinished seams. Not just cheap clothes either.
    She’s coated in emollient every day so all clothes and pillowcases need washing in hot water after every use. If you let the emollient build up your washing machine can’t deal with it, it builds up and in the best case break the washing machine and in the catch on fire in the dryer.
    I also like clothes to be either imported and fairly traded, like Frugi for instance or, or made in Europe to high standards like Petit Bateau. Bizarrely it’s only the boy pyamas that have the softest inside seams.
    I also buy pyamas for eczema patients with anti-bacterial silver. They’re expensive but priceless.
    I stick to organic cotton for socks and undies as whitener and daughter don’t mix. The boon is that they come in natural, blue or red and are super easy to pair.
    My friends don’t hand-me-down outside of the family and I often feel there’s a bit of a competitive angle to outfitting the little ones.
    But we’re near a housing project that has a great bring and borrow scheme where I donate DD’s outgrown clothes. If need be I go every week and drop off. There are many small eczema sufferers so the clothes are eagerly received.
    DD loves shoes and hair accessories. Pretty was one of her first words. Shoes last six weeks to the next size so we have only two pairs at a time. That has caused many a melt-down in shoe shops.
    But we have lots of the hair bows to match her coordinated simple outfits. Very simple ones in mono colours as it happens. She loves jeans and I found a soft bamboo type she can wear.
    Yes she is an only child and barring a miracle will remain one. But I think everyone should have their own clothes, just not many of them.
    Same goes for the parents too. I go through everything every season and anything worn out goes to the fabric bank,good stuff the charity ( thrift ) shop.
    For anything it’s one in, one out be it books, clothes, dishes, stuff. I mainly just replace broken items. If nothing else moving to the small place has cured my shopping but not my spending habits.
    Outfitting DD is not cheap, but we can afford it and it keeps her skin happy and I know we can hand them on.

  76. Socks – my 3 year old daughter has 2 kinds -plain white knee socks for every day wear and blue smartwool socks for cold weather and night. makes matching easy and if we loose one they can just be matched up with other orphan socks. I plan to do the same with #2 due this winter.

  77. @Elaine re: buying sizes ahead, that’s why I only buy the next size up for my baby. She’s already in 24mo/2T and isn’t even a year old yet so I have no idea what size she’ll be next summer, or what effect that “slimming down” when they start walking is going to have.I think there are enough sales, etc that you wouldn’t really be missing out if you just bought one size ahead.
    But maybe someone else has a better way to figure it out 🙂

  78. For the youngest, I have a bin in her room and stuff that goes into there is for Goodwill (after checking for something we might keep for sentimental/other family reasons).The boys share a room and they are 6 years apart. So for the younger it can be a long wait. Often I forget and am about to buy stuff for the middle kid and then boom, I find a box full of great clothes. They are both old enough that the oldest really trashes clothes and I just plan to buy new pants for both each fall.
    I did finally decide that they don’t really need a lot of clothing, so fewer nicer things is better than lots of T shirts from Target that they’ll never wear.
    Going back to the littlest, she is a girl and with two older brothers I hate to buy all new clothes when there are shirts! pants! all ready to go. Usually I buy half of what she needs, because it is a girly top that works just fine with khaki boy’s shorts. Eventually that’ll end I suppose, and the dresses have their own space.
    It does come down to regularly checking the clothing situation. One more Thing To Do!

  79. @ARC, for me it comes down to thinking about what’s really sold seasonally and really has to fit – winter boots? Gotta be bought right at the time. Sundresses? Well, no sleeves, loose, only really too small if they’re indecently short – snap them up. Same for short-sleeved T-shirts – I’ve got a few 8-10s that I’ve had for a couple years now and that Mouse will maybe fit into next year. Pajamas in SF aren’t really seasonal since we’ll have cold nights any time so I’ll definitely stock up on those. Cute fleeces/hoodies, same. We have occasion for jeans year-round too, though the different cuts can be a tricky fit depending on your kid’s shape at the time so I don’t usually get those ahead now. Winter coats are a little bit tricky since a kid might skip a size, but in bigger-kid sizes they tend to cover a little more ground. Mouse had one that she loved and wore for 2 winters in a 5/6 so I snapped up a 7/8 in a different print at the sale last year figuring we’d be OK. Bathing suits…if you’re only wearing them in the summer you might wait, if you’re going to a pool year round, then why not?

  80. The only helpful thing I have – when my kid was a baby and toddler I kept a mesh bag in her hamper, into which I tossed all her socks. Keeping them together like that made things infinitely easier!I second (third?) the recommendation for keeping a stain stick in the hamper and treating stains right away – much easier.

  81. @Charisse – thanks! That’s a good way to think about it. We’re in Seattle and the weather is similar – we wore fleece all “summer” :(I do buy sleepers when I find them cheap and we love consignment. BabyT hasn’t worn anything out yet – she grows out of stuff way too fast.

  82. I am probably unqualified to chime in here because I only have 1 kid right now (will have to see how I feel about this in about 2 more months when baby #2 is here and generating laundry). Also, I am fortunate to live in the northwest where we essentially haveFirst and foremost, my 3 year old son just simply does not have a lot of clothes. (This for me is my most essential home organizing rule for everything actually-the less you have the less you have to keep track of-the less you have to clean-the less money you have to spend-it’s a win win all around). I have a very small laundry basket just for him and launder what’s in there about 2X per week and that keeps him fairly clean and not naked.
    Second, I love the hanging shelves for closets. I stash things in there temporarily by size that are too small and when 2 rows of those fill up, put them in an box, label them with the approx. size and store them in my attic. Hand me downs that I have received & sorted through also get a couple shelves in the hanging closet thingy too.
    Regarding hand me downs: I get bags upon bags of them and do NOT feel guilty at all sorting them directly from the bag I get to 1. the trash (come on people, do you really think even someone shopping at GoodWill deserves a spaghetti stained white Tshirt-this is my service to all of human kind)
    2. a curbside charity bin/garbage bag I keep in my garage (if you don’t have a curbside charity, you could also just wait until said bag/bin gets full, throw it in the back of your car and when you see a big donation bin or a GoodWill, pull over and drop it off)
    3. my son’s hanging shelves
    I am VERY picky about what I will keep. Nothing that would look outdated (like an old cartoon character that my son may or may not even like when he gets to be that size). And stick to basic colors and patterns so that they go with everything.
    That is my system.

  83. mommy brain made me forget to finish my first paragraph’s last sentence. The NW region essentially has only 2 seasons; cold rain and warm rain.

  84. If you are looking for something that is stylish, fun and trendy, then seek out a pair of Skechers shoes and it goes without saying that if you are in the field for something athletic,

  85. My oldest two are a year apart and mostly wear the same sizes, except for pants because the oldest one is much taller. Here is my system for keeping track of their individual clothes (especially when they’re sometimes only 1 size apart):Dots.
    You read that right. Clothes that fit my oldest get one dot on the tag. Once they are too small and ready to fit my younger daughter, then I add a dot. Thus, when I’m sorting laundry, anything with 1 dot is for oldest kid and 2 dots is for youngest. For more kids just add more dots.

  86. Alicia, he is accusing them of being ciirmnals. Bill has that right, and is completely correct to call for the individuals above to be brought into a police station for questioning.Good luck Bill, hope you reclaim your notebook!

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