Paring Down Kid Clothing | the minimalist mom

As I mentioned the other day, the best method for paring down your stuff is the method that works for you. It could be a bet, a number based goal, a system based on rooms or categories or items or a slow and steady push through all your stuff for a few months. Find what works for you. If what you choose is not working, find another way.

Paring Down Kid Clothing

Back when my first born was in infant sizes I felt incredibly overwhelmed with his clothing. It felt like we had so much of it, yet we were constantly running out of the clean stuff, and every few weeks I’d have to sort the lot of it to figure out what still fit. Some of my stumbling blocks were that I had quite a few ‘outfits’ and not enough easy soft pieces for him. Putting overalls on a ten week old baby is a lot of work and then more work when he spits up all over the outfit soon after he’s been dressed. Ugh. I learned a lot of lessons on what works for me and put them to use with babies number two and three. While I still had to sort through clothes every few weeks, and later every few months, we had the right kind of clothing and the right amount. Baby clothing was easier and so much simpler the second and third time around. *I have lots of strategies around baby and toddler clothing in my book, The Minimalist Mom: How to Simply Parent Your Baby and here on the blog.

The good news: I’ve found that kid’s clothing gets easier as your children get older (don’t ask me about the teen years though – we’re a ways from it!). Currently my brood of three – ages 3, 5 and 8 – share a four drawer dresser from IKEA. Each child has one drawer and the top drawers holds socks and some miscellaneous items. We have a few items hung up but the drawers carry the bulk of their clothing. For storage we have two large clear plastic bins that hold out of season/size clothing, gear and shoes.

How much clothing do they have? Roughly, my oldest that is eight years old and goes to public school now (ie. no uniform) owns two pairs of jeans, two pairs of sweat pants, three warm tops (sweaters/sweatshirt), up to eight t-shirts. He could probably get by with even less on the tops department and drop a pair of sweatpants. But we’re not really holding ourselves to some goal line/standard/number but rather what’s easy. The younger two children share a lot of clothing but roughly have six bottoms each, eight to ten t-shirts/long sleeves and three warm tops each. The youngest goes through clothing at a much quicker rate than his older siblings and may need a few outfit changes during the day. He’s also less likely to be able to re-wear an outfit the next day. Most of the time now my oldest can re-wear clothing two to three times before sending it to the wash. For shoes they all have snow boots and a pair of running shoes. Outerwear is a heavy winter jacket and snow pants. Our mitten and hat collection has two sets each for kids as we’ve had a few lost then found moments. Ideally we should just have one set each but I will admit the spares have come in handy. If someone leaves a set at daycare/preschool/school they can’t play outside over the weekend/that afternoon. We recently moved to a snow belt (and we’re loving it!) but it’s a whole new world of outdoor gear compared to our previous lives as coastal city folk.

Why it is important to keep kid clothing pared down? Well there’s the environmental cost of buying a lot of it. North Americans are buying, and getting rid of, five times the amount of clothing that they did twenty-five years ago. For our family the upside to not having large wardrobes for our kids is that it’s a lot easier to keep track of things, we need less storage space, we spend less on their clothing and it motivates us to keep on top of the laundry.

My biggest secret to keeping kid’s wardrobes streamlined: I’m not fashion focused. I don’t like to shop for clothing for myself or for my kids. I’ll invest in more rugged/expensive/well-made clothing for my kids solely with the motivation to not have to buy it again. I want my kids to not place a lot of importance on brands or fashion so I try to model that by not being overly concerned with their clothing. When we talk about clothing and gear with them the conversation is about taking care of what we have so it will last – it’s not about “looking” a certain way or trying to impress someone. Admittedly, neither my husband or I are into fashion: we wear the same few outfits on repeat most of the time.

But what if you love kid’s fashions? I’ve spoken to a number of parents that love children’s clothing and find themselves drowning in it. They just can’t say no to adorable outfits at Target, thrift stores and that their mother-in-law brings them. My advice: give yourself limits and keep just what is worn. Give yourself a set amount of space for clothing and stick to it. If your kids won’t wear outfits that you love, donate them. If you are going to own it, use it. After years in storage we’re back to using our wedding china every day. Nice things are meant to be seen, used and enjoyed.

More posts on kid’s clothing:

If you have children, what are your strategies for keeping a simple and pared down wardrobe for them? I’m interested to hear from parents that are clothing focused and follow fashions or anyone that invests a lot of money in their children’s clothing. How do you balance your love of fashion and enjoyment at children’s clothing with a desire for simplicity?

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