May 14, 2011

Culling Of The Clothes

It's that time of year again. Spring cleaning. And over this winter I noticed something.

I washed way more clothing than I should have. And every time I open the boys' closet I see way more clothing than they actual wear.

I love purging things. I always feel so much better when I've gotten rid of extra clutter. But I have a hard time with clothes. Especially those stinkin' cute baby clothes (even though we have 5 jillion articles of baby clothing). Always thinking "Oh, they'll wear it someday" or "That shirt is cute (even though it cuts off the circulation to my arms)" or "Hey, it's good to have extras". But I read this post about laundry on Like Mother, Like Daughter and now I know what I must do.

Get rid of the clothes.

Well, not all of them, since nudity is frowned upon in modern society. But a lot of them. Even I, who has purged our closet a few times since we moved here (and that was only 2 years ago!), still have more clothes than I wear. And since I aim for a simpler, less-stuff lifestyle, they've gotta go!

Since I leave Ben's clothing alone because he's a big boy and can make his own choices, this will be for the kids and I. Mostly the kids. I'll try to make it happen over the next few weeks.

My goal for each person is
- 1 week's worth of shirts (maybe a week each of short and long sleeve)
- 2 long pants, 2-3 shorts
- 2-3 skirts (for me, obviously)
- 2 weeks worth of underwear
- 2 weeks worth of socks (less for me, since I don't wear them as much)
- 1 to 2 nice "Sunday" outfits for going out
- 1 light jacket
- 1 heavy jacket
- For me: 3-5 dresses, because I'm finding I love them greatly
- 1 to 2 sets of pajamas

Clothes that are clean do not need to be washed. Meaning my children tend to wear shirts and shorts for 3-4 days, unless they're outside a lot in the dirt. Or Duder, who likes to use his shirt as a serving dish. When they're dirty they go in the basket. You can avoid doing copious amounts of laundry by just putting away things that aren't heavily soiled. This will also make them last longer, as constant machine washing and drying will wear clothes out.

Now! How to purge one's closet (or at least how I do it):

1. Make four piles - Keep, Donate, Storage, Trash. Fairly self explanatory.
Keep is things that will go back in the dresser/closet.
Donate will go to Goodwill/Salvation Army/etc. If you can be especially picky, you can save things for use as fabric. I'll save shirts and jeans to use for repairing other items sometimes.
Storage is for those items that you know will be used later (like children's clothes for hand-me downs, sizes not needed yet or out-of-season things). Not ones you hope you might fit into again. There will always be a chance to buy new clothes if needed in the future.
Trash is for those things that are not good enough for donations and can't be salvaged for material. Like stretched out underwear.

2. We're going to work in waves here. The first wave is to go through and just separate out the things that you'd like to keep (don't worry about size or anything yet) and things you want to get rid of. Place the things you're getting rid of in the appropriate pile (donate or trash).

3. Wave two is going through the Keep pile of the first wave and see what fits or is in season. Keep the appropriate things, store the others, and donate or trash the rest accordingly. You can do it quickly, as we'll be going through things one more time.

4. Now we have wave three, which is the hardest. Really, honestly, look at what you've kept (this means the storage pile too!).
Have you worn it in the past year? No? Get rid of it. Even if you feel it holds sentimental value, just get rid of it!
Can you (or your child) honestly fit into that?
Do you have work clothes, but are a stay-at-home-momma? You can get new clothes if you return to the work force. Someone who needs them can use them if you donate it to a thrift store.
Is it grotesquely out of style? I'm not one for following trends, but nobody wears shoulder pads or leather pants anymore. 
Are you keeping those jeans that now have a big hole on the left butt cheek just because your now-husband told you at 17 they looked good on you? Throw them away.
Be honest, be brutal. Take no prisoners!

5. Now, quickly, and without looking at it too closely, bag or box up the storage pile, label it if you can, and put it away. Place the donation pile in a bag or box and go put it in your car. Take the trash pile to the trash. Don't take things out of those piles to put back in the closet! Stick with your first instinct!

Aaaah, doesn't that feel better?

We've gone through things 3 different times to hopefully make it less painful. First, the quick and dirty, easy decisions. Then, the more careful, but still easy decisions. And lastly, the honest decisions that deal with a smaller pile.

Now you can go about your merry way, doing less laundry and not suffocating every time you walk into the closet. Your children will be easier to dress when you/they have less options to deal with, and your storage areas will feel less crazy when you don't have boxes and boxes of clothing that won't be worn.

The question of getting new clothes arises: The kids get new things for Christmas/Birthdays, or you buy a new sweater. Swap them for something you already have. Take something out before you put something else in. Donate it, or if it's kid clothes that can be worn by younger ones, go put it in storage. Just try not to let the accumulation of mountains of clothing happen again!

Happy Purging,


Dawn said...

Love it. I need you at my house;)))
Feels so good when it's all done- doesn't it??
In answer to your question from long ago....about what was popping out of the ground? A Peony.
Sorry I have been away. Life has been more than a bit crazy:)

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

Great advice Meg. Now If I could just do it!!

mountain mama said...

i can't give a big enough amen!

we are moving across county for the third time in 1.5 years. all these clothes and toys are nuts!

it's too much...we are purging like crazy. it's so weird because i've done it before each move. where does it all come from i wonder?

anyway, simplify is my motto :)

great blog btw.

Jennifer said...

Perfect timing. This is so helpful. I always think that I should keep the extra clothes...someone will need them someday, but really, I just end up putting the same three pairs of pants back on the top of the clothing pile every week. So much stuff. You have inspired me to reduce! Thanks.

no spring chicken said...

Wow, what a post! I feel better just for having read it. But I guess that one must do the purging themselves to get any real lasting satisfaction...

This task is already on my list of to do's this week, so I thank you for the inspiration!!

Blessings, Debbie

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Oh, such a hard task!! I add one step to your process. I have a hard time with the final decision of getting rid of a few things. For thise items, I put them in a box, tape the box shut and put it in the garage. I date the outside. In 6 months, if I haven't opened the box, it goes to the thrift store. The final rule is I don't open it before taking it. Just take it, drop it off and walk away.
Have a great week.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

I know I have too many clothes when I can pack for a three week trip in a 21 inch suitcase and a carry on. -grin-

Allison said...

That is so true. What a nightmare managing clothes for six is. Endless "triage" or sorting through. Great motivational speech! I'll get right to it. :)

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