Closet Case

We have a severe lack of storage options here in our 150 year old house. Fortunately, thanks to the excellent skills of my mom, I am extremely organized. Twice a year, with the season change, I do the big Clothing Swap. All the clothes from the past season get put away and the "new" ones get brought out.

Sound simple enough? Well, here's the tough part: Alec and Benji are two sizes apart, so I will always have four complete wardrobes to store for the boys- one summer and one winter in each size. Also, I buy ahead for the boys (and Ava) on my weekly trips to the Goodwill store.

That has really paid off; I have a stash of nearly new pants, long-sleeved T's, coats, etc. up to size 14 (Alec wears a 10 now).
However, it means even more stuff I have to keep in storage.

Ava's stuff is really easy to switch; she has her own room and two dressers and a closet, and I'm not storing clothes for two little girls! Hers is in and out in a flash. The boys stuff is entirely another story, a whole days worth of work.

Here is a list of the things I do to keep myself organized so that each time I have to repeat The Swap it is smooth and painless:

:: I use clear bins so I can see what's inside right away and avoid opening a bin that I don't have to

:: Once a bin is full, I slide a piece of paper into the front of it, facing out, with the sizes and description of the contents (ex: size 5/6 summer, or size 7/8 Benji winter '09)

:: As I put away the current season's clothing, I sort it into two piles: one pile that's too small and one pile to possibly wear next year. If it's Benji's clothes, the "too small" pile gets donated. If it's Alec's clothes, the "too small" pile gets stored for Benji later.

:: I have what we call the Indian Summer bag in an easily accessible place- if I'm putting away winter stuff, the bag contains a couple pairs of pants and a couple long-sleeved T's for each boy. If I'm putting away summer stuff, the bag contains a couple pairs of shorts and short sleeved shirts for each. That way there is always an outfit or two for the sudden temperature changes we are so prone to getting here and I don't have to scramble and rip out all the bins at the last minute. I also always leave out a couple hoodies and jackets.

:: I do a load of laundry every day so I try to have at most only 7-10 pairs of pants/shorts and 7-10 shirts out. The boys share a dresser and there simply isn't room for an excess of clothing. Plus it's just easier to put things away when the drawers aren't stuffed full. If there is extra clothing that I just can't bear to part with, I'll just put them in storage for the next year (my boys tend to wear summer clothes for more than one year)

:: Lastly, I try to purge each time I do The Swap. If my first reaction to an item isn't a happy one, I just throw it into a plastic bag. It is so much freer and easier to not be burdened with way too much stuff! My extra clothes go to a good friend of mine who has boys similar ages and we tend to swap clothes back and forth. It works very well and saves both of us tons of money.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with storage issues; does anyone have any other good tips to share on storing seasonal clothing for your kids?

6 readers took time to leave a thought:

Pam April 27, 2009 at 12:43 AM  

I've been working on The Swap myself this weekend. Although, I am NOT as organized as you, unfortunately. I've still got stuff out everywhere. Argh!

4 Little Men and Girly Twins April 27, 2009 at 8:10 AM  

I'm still not done with Ozzie clothes... done with the other boys but not Ozzie. Ugg!

Faith Hope Love Mama April 27, 2009 at 10:44 AM  

We are pretty minimalist here. Everything we own (summer, winter) all fits in their rooms including winter coats and such. I shop as the need arrives. If one of them grows and needs a coat that is what I go on the search for etc. When I go to the goodwill I only look for what we need not what I anticipate what we need. I totally save money only looking for something specific and then don't have to worry about storage. Same goes for my entire house. It's pretty clutter free and we only have one linen closet for storage. No attic storage or anything else.
We live in a small house. How fun that you live in a house with such great history. That would be really neat. :)

Anonymous April 27, 2009 at 12:18 PM  

No ideas - I like yours. I am TERRIBLE at organizing. Terrible.

The Baker's April 27, 2009 at 1:44 PM  

Girl - we are ALOT alike! I just did this last week, & it's sounds like I did the same thing. My boys share a room & dresser too, so I also keep the clothes to a minimum! I do have a storage closet though where you can see all my bins lined up... Honestly, I don't know how people live "unorganized". I would go insane. There are a few things I let go (I have a lid drawer in the kitchen & a large spoon & spatula drawer - not much order in either of those) but for the most part I know where everything is. Just don't ask me if ALL of my laundry is folded & put away... Arrrrggg! I hate laundry... But what are you gonna do???? Have a good day!

Karen April 28, 2009 at 12:03 AM  

I read somewhere one time about keeping an extra bin in the closet for getting rid of stuff. You could keep it in the laundry room also if no closet room. So as my kids outgrow stuff it goes directly in to the bin after its washed as well as it can be. I love it! It works well for me because especially with babies it seems like something is constantly too small or ruined from some marker/bleach incident:) Plus, there are things that I have been given that I keep initially and then as season progesses I realize I really don't love this and we aren't using it so in the bin it can go. Sounds like your system works well too and I love the indian summer idea. I have been hesitating on cleaning out fall/winter stuff that I know will be too small next yr. because the weather keeps changing drastically. So great tip on that!!

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