Finding Sanity – laundry part 2
Now that the laundry room is up to par, let us move on to the clothes part of doing laundry.
Laundry is inevitable. We wear clothes everyday, and to avoid stinking those clothes must be washed now and again. And when you throw kids into the mix, potty training, and spaghetti, you have the makings of a mountain range of laundry.
Years ago, when we began looking for ways to make laundry a little more do-able, it seemed like an impossible task to get and keep the laundry caught up. Now, however, after practicing and practicing some more, keeping the laundry caught up has become easy.
It didn’t happen overnight. It has taken us years to get to a point where laundry doesn’t make us crazy. We had to change a lot of our habits along the way, and I’ve learned that there is much more to keeping the laundry monster under control than just wash, dry, fold.
And it all starts with the clothes.
It’s time to simplify.
The hard truth is that the more clothes your child has, the more laundry you’ll have to do. I don’t know the why’s or how’s of this. I just know this is how it works.
And I do feel you’re pain. All those adorable clothes. How are we supposed to get rid of even just one outfit? But part of finding sanity in a lived-in space is cutting our attachments to material things. We must become less stuff-motivated and more God-driven. We must minimize.
There are a number of ways to help pare down your kid’s clothes. I’ve used this system to shrink my own clothing stash, too.
- Evaluate clothing storage space. Does your child have a dresser? Do you keep clothes hung up in a closet? Do all the clothes just sit in a laundry basket because by the time they get there you’re too tired to fold them and put them away? If you have a lot of space dedicated to clothing…
- Choose a smaller space to house it all. Whatever size space you use for storing clothing, you’re likely to fill it. That means if it’s a 4 drawer dresser, you’ll have 4 drawers of clothes. If you only use two drawers for clothes, you’ll fill just two drawers. My baby and toddler each have one drawer and you can bet each one fills quickly.
***If your children’s drawers are nicely kept, the clothes hung up in an orderly fashion, you’re likely not to have laundry issues at all and have no need of this article.
- Decide what clothes your child needs to keep. Sally probably doesn’t need 15 Sunday dresses if she only wears one each week. If you’re like us, you’ll find you really only need half of what you have (or even less!). If you’re having trouble tossing those cute hand-me-downs and auntie-gifts in the Freecycle box, maybe try storing them yourself in the attic or garage. Each month trade out the stored clothes for the current ones. This way Sally will get to wear all 14 dresses, but you won’t have to keep all 14 out. Doing this is likely to show you that you really don’t miss all those clothes anyway and it will be easier for you to gift them to somebody else who needs them.
- If it doesn’t fit, toss it. I’m not talking about the clothes fitting your child. I’m talking about the space you have set aside for housing the clothes. If you have all the clothes cleaned, folded, and organized, but they just aren’t fitting nicely, you probably need to get rid of a few more items.
- Holes, stains, rips, tears – just trash ‘em. This is my biggest problem. A toddler shirt I’ve loved for a long time had a little hole and a stain on the front. Not only that, but Sam’s dresser drawer was overflowing with clothing love from a friend at church. He hadn’t worn the shirt for a long time (duh, it had a stain on it!) but for some reason I was still holding on.
It was time to let go.
I remember going through this same process before with my older children. And, you know what? I don’t even recall what those shirts I loved so much looked like.
Remember, it’s highly improbably that you’re going to think about that shirt a week from now and wish you’d kept it.
- This also goes for the older kids. While your 10 year old may resist throwing away that torn and tattered shirt, if he can’t seem to keep his clothing in order, this will teach him better laundry habits. I always tell me kids, “I don’t care what you keep, so long as you keep it neatly.” They know that if mama has to constantly come in and repair their disorderly room she’s gonna get rid of stuff. By sticking to this rule I have given them a way to keep their favorites, while opening the door to do away with worn-out clothing if I need to.
- Pick a day every month or two to re-evaluate your clothing needs. Toss cruddy clothes, store outgrown clothes you’ll want to use for another child, and gift anything you want to get rid of. This is the time to decide if your child needs new pants or a new shirt. Making a list and sticking to it is a good way to not over-buy when clothes shopping.
And Finally -
Take these tips and design a system that works for your family. Of course a system for a family with 2 children is going to look different than a family with 7. A family with children in school is going to have different laundry habits than a family who homeschools. Find what works for you.
How do you keep your kids clothes from over-taking your home? I’d love to know!
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