Practical Dad

Kid’s Clothing - Managing the Hand-Me-Downs

One of the first signs of Spring in our household is managing the clothing inventory.  With multiple children and a network of friends with children, there's a constant flow of clothing through the house and it takes periodic time and attention to keep everything in some order.  Early Spring - and early Fall - is a good time to check what fits, what's needed and what needs to go away.

Getting Started

If you have multiple recipients for the outdated clothing - whether charity or another family - the first question is whether you want to sort by recipient or just toss everything going into one pile to be sorted later.  If you have time issues, you probably want to have one larger pile in an out-of-the-way area that you can go back to later.  In our case, we have a charity box in the garage to hold what's leaving the household.  I can always go back to sort out later when the kids aren't around.

The next step is deciding where to start.  I've made the mistake of starting with an older child whose clothing goes to a younger one.  The end result is a clothing pile bottleneck until I can clear out the old clothing from the younger one; that bottleneck is presently residing in the upstairs hallway.

Involving the Kids (Unfortunately...)

Unfortunately, there's no way to avoid doing it without the kids to try things on.  A couple tips?

  • Pay attention to the weather and shoot for a poor-weather weekend so they can't argue about missing nicer weather outside.
  • Choose one set of jeans, slacks, pullover shirt and dress shirt to use as a pattern.  After finding one of each that fits, you can lay it on the bed and use it as a benchmark by laying others over it for sizing.  That way, the kids don't have to try everything on and you can pull them in for only those questionable items.
  • Yeah, there are moments when a bribe helps and this is one of those times.  You can talk until blue in the face about how they gain from this, but it's not going to work.

After the clothing is sorted and on to the next location, take the moments to clean out the drawers and refold what's needed.  When the kids are a little older, it's also a good opportunity to teach them and let them practice folding and hanging things up.

As the clothing shifts through the house like a rat in a python, you can then disperse it to its destination(s) from the garage.  One final question is whether the outgoing clothing should be washed before leaving the house; I generally look at everything as it comes through and wash what actually needs it - grass stains on knee, food stains on shirts.  Honestly though, since kids usually toss things in the hamper after wearing once, things are typically clean when I go through them.

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