It’s almost that time of year again…time for The Great Clothing Swap. The time when clothes from last season are replaced with clothes for the upcoming season. It’s not exactly my favorite time of year, as I dread the loading and unloading of bags.
It always seems like an overwhelming amount of work. But now that I finally have a good system in place, things speed along much more smoothly. And for that I am grateful.
In just a few months, my husband and I are going to have our fourth little one! Because I have taken the time to organize and take good care of our children’s clothes, we should have most every type of clothing article we could possibly need for this new little boy or girl. While these are fairly worn clothes, they still have lots of life left in them for a new one.
Here is my tried and true, works-for-me method:
I use the XL-size Ziploc bags to store all of our outgrown children’s clothes in. While I like the fact that the XL Hefty bags have a zip top, in my experience these zippers are not reliable and break after just a couple of uses. That’s money down the drain and extra work for this Mama. Believe me, stick with the XL Ziplocs and you’ll like your results.
Why do I use Ziploc bags instead of totes are some other storage container? I tried totes in the beginning with our first baby and quickly found out they could not be stacked without bowing in the middle. Bowing = a poorly fitting lid = bug entry. Mama doesn’t do bugs of any type. Ever.
Baby clothes are broken down into 3-month sizes: NB and 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months and 9-12 months. I do not sort by season for the Baby Days, only by size. So on my label on the outside of the bag, it reads: GIRL 3-6 months or BOY 6-12 months.
Once clothes hit the 18 month mark, I start to sort them by season, gender and size. So my label on the bag would read: GIRL 2T Mostly Summer.
Some items require their own storage in a separate bag:
– Burp Cloths/Blankets/Baby Towels and Washcloths
– Cloth Diapers by size
– All feeding supplies, including sippy cups, pump parts, spoons, etc.
– All baby toys (12 months and under)
– Shoes – I have gender separate bags of shoes with sizes 2-5, sizes 6-8 and sizes 8-12 sorted in their own bags.
After using this method to store children’s clothes for 5+ years, I can promise you this: You will not remember what is in the bags. Label them very, very well. You’ll like your results so much better.
For example: I try to put all of the nice dresses in one bag for that size of clothes. I make sure the label reads: GIRL 18 months, includes Sunday dresses and tights. That way, if I need to quickly pull the nice dresses in that size I know exactly which one of the four 18-month bags to look in.
Or I label the bag: BOY 3T, includes all underwear. Now I know which 3T bag to look in to find the underwear. More importantly, if I leave a pair of underwear out during The Swap, I can easily find which bag to put it in. It makes things so simple.
Once the bags are filled, they are stored in our attic until we need them again. Thankfully we have a lot of floor space and I arrange them grouped by size. All boy sizes 0-3 months are stored together, then boy sizes 3-6 months are stored together. Boy clothes are on one side of the attic and girl clothes on the other side.
When I pull out one size of clothes, there is an obvious hole where they will go back into storage once that size is outgrown.
One big question: Why in the world would you keep all of these clothes? It takes so much ‘work’, why do it? Doesn’t it just create clothing clutter?
All of those are legitimate questions and I’ve even asked them of myself! Is this really worth it? My answer is a resounding ‘yes’. By keeping the clothes from one child to the next, we don’t have to re-buy entire wardrobes of clothing for our children. I truly see it as being good stewards of that which God has blessed us. I am so fortunate and grateful to stay home with my children each day, and one way I can help us make it on one income is to take good care of our current belongings.
Are you looking for some other great resources for dealing with clothing management? Look no further! Here’s a plethora of fabulous ideas from my best bloggy friends:
- Tara from Feels Like Home is making a dynamite baby quilt from her little one’s clothes. If you just can’t bare to part with those baby clothes, this is a wonderful way to keep them forever.
- Amy from Raising Arrows is posting on how to store hand-me-downs for the larger family.
- Nony from A Slob Comes Clean deals with clothing as clutter.
- Angie from Many Little Blessings writes about sorting through your own closet to help manage clothing.
- Cheryl from Adventures of a Somewhat Crunchy Mama gives tips on how she organizes her clothes before storing them.
Disclosure: The post contains affiliate links.
Nony (A Slob Comes Clean)
My favorite advice you gave was that if the bags are well-labeled, you know where to stick that odd pair of undies you run across. No matter how hard I work to get everything stored, I always end up with a few strays.
I always do too! That is probably my LEAST favorite part of The Swap.
I tend to have that random pair of pants or pairs of socks that can’t make their way back up to the attic….
Amy @ Raising Arrows
I’ve had people tell me I shouldn’t keep things, but I feel the same way as you…it’s about stewardship and God has blessed us beyond measure in the area of clothes. I would feel as if I was squandering that blessings if I threw it all out each and every time.
Yes, this is a great idea because I have so many baby clothes from my kids that I have in closets that could be put in storage!
Great ideas for managing children’s clothing. If you’ll allow, I’d like to offer one more resource to your list. The SizeTracker Children’s Clothing Size Chart Calculator at SizeTracker.com can be used to find the date when your child will grow into a brand-specific/item-specific size so you can store hand-me-downs more effectively, pull them out just in time, and figure out when items will fit without trying them on your child (and possibly having them outgrow something because a brand is cut smaller than others of its size).
My son is 13 and growing so fast right now that he has went through 3 clothing sizes in the last year. I have been storing hand-me-downs and bought-on-sale clothes that are too big right in his bedroom. He has drawers under his bed. I store too-big clothes in the drawers. When he needs a bigger size they are right there.
Clothes that he grows out of go right into a box to pass onto a friend. I keep the box in the garage and add clothes to it whenever I’m on my way out. When the box gets full I drop it off at my friend’s house.
Great ideas, Carrie! Thanks for sharing them. I love the idea of having too-big clothes right in the room somewhere.
Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor
This is one task that always feels overwhelming to me. Thanks for the tips. This time I am really going to try hard to mend everything BEFORE packing it away. I don’t want to open up a box for little brother in two years and find missing buttons and broken zippers.
Joanna, such a good point about mending items before packing them away! I’ve done it both ways, and boy is it so much easier to open a bag of items already in good shape.
Thanks for mentioning it!
So great of all you ladies to do these clothing posts today! I’ve enjoyed (and been inspired by) them all!
Angie @ Many Little Blessings
We don’t have to put clothes away for new little ones anymore, but I love the suggestion of the XL Ziploc bags. I’ll have to try that sometime for other storage needs!
I love this idea!!!! Right now I store mine in containers but you know how that goes… and I always have clothes from different sizes hanging around in odd places in the house waiting to be put a way. My problem is I have a boy who is so tiny that he can wear clothes from two years ago and on….
Also my kids have SO many clothes that getting rid of some for me is a better option than keeping them. I have also come to realize that kids don’t need that many clothes… maybe a maximum of two weeks is PLENTY!
🙂 Thanks for the tip!
Oh I *totally* agree! I definitely have a huge purge stack prior to storing them in the attic! If we stored them all, we’d have a million bags to deal with and that IS overwhelming.
Your 2-week maximum is a great standard, in my opinion! Any more than that and it equals clutter to me.
Thanks for stopping by Mama’s!
I have a 15 month old son (our first child) who is #8 out of 9 cousins. My sister and sister-in-law did such a great job of storing all of their boys clothes (and girls clothes but i don’t need those yet) in storage bins and labeling them that since the moment my son was born i have not had to buy one piece of clothing for him. The same will be if our next child is a girl. I pay it forward by keeping the clothes in good shape and organized in the proper bins when he grows out of them so that my other sister-in-law will have them to use!
This is also a great idea for toys—not only do we not buy clothes but i have an entire play room of toys for my son that are hand-me-downs as well.
I am the youngest of four so i know what it’s all about and feel that it’s not only easy on the pocket book but easy on the enviornment as well–less consumption is a good thing.
By the way, if you’re a real mom that wants to share a funny story meet me at http://www.facebook.com/8thcontinentsoymilk
We live in hot, muggy Southwest Florida. Due to lack of space, we store most of our things in an outdoor custom shed. My daughter’s clothes seem to be OK after being stored for 2+ years. We are getting ready to have baby #2 and I am going through the boxes and thinking to myself… “what would happen if moisture seeped in and destroyed all her precious little frillies?!” What do you recommend to keep clothes moisture free?
Ashley, I’ve researched desiccant packs to see if they would be worth it. I can’t find any that are reasonably priced, though. I know – I just pray our clothes make it out each time with no mildew from being too damp!
I don’t have a good solution. Wish I did. 🙁
Where do you store your clothes? Attic? I’m so afraid of bugs or moisture. We live in the South and I don’t want to find spiders in clothes when I go to get them back out again! Thanks!
Do you have any tips for storing kids shoes for younger siblings?
Thanks for the tip that when storing children’s clothes, it’s best to have a separate container for shoes. I’m planning to accompany my sister to a children’s clothes boutique soon in because her child is growing fast. Hopefully he doesn’t need to change sizes in rapid succession in the coming months.