I have been wanting to write this for a while but I keep hesitating as I have not created perfect minimal wardrobes for my kids. But I am not perfect at minimalism or small space living and that's never stopped me from sharing before so not sure why clothes makes me so nervous! I hope that by sharing what works for us and what doesn't, it will motivate me to do better in the areas I am lacking in. I also know that you guys have some great systems and ideas that I hope you will share. I am always so impressed by the generous sharing of information and ideas in the comments of this blog (Thank you, thank you!)
Start with Less:
To begin, I try my best to not over buy clothes for either kid. And this is tough! Especially when kid's clothes are so cute! And when I fall in love with beautiful brands. But I try to follow simple rules. Less is definitely more but I find I am much more disciplined when it comes to outerwear and shoes than I am with clothing. I know each kid only needs a few good pairs of pants and a few good tops but I let others sneak in to the wardrobe because they are small and adorable. Later I regret this because it means more decisions to make in the morning and more laundry every week. And in the end they only have a few outfits I love that I just put them in over and over again so all the fluff needs to go! Below is a list of my current Fall/Winter efforts at minimizing their wardrobe. In brackets are some of the items where I have overdone it.
Theo 4 Years
3-5 pairs of pants
4 long sleeved shirts
4 short sleeved shirts (probably has 10)
Mae 15 months
4 dresses (probably has 6)
4 pants/leggings (probably has 6)
4 tops (Probably has 10)
3 kneehigh socks
Outerwear for Both:
1 Winter Coat
1 Fall Coat
1 Muddy Buddy
1 Rain Coat
1 Runners (Theo usually has 2)
1 Rain Boots
1 Snow Boots
Rules of Shopping:
I also apply the same rules to the kid's clothes as I do to my own. I try and ask myself these questions when choosing their clothes:
Do they really need this?
Could I wait to purchase it?
Is there something they currently own that could achieve the same purpose?
Can I name 4 outfits involving this piece?
Following the One in One out rule... so what is leaving if I am buying this piece?
and these additional questions...
How big can I possibly buy this and have it still be wearable to get the most use out of it?
Can I get this second-hand or borrowed?
Accept Hand-Me-Downs Selectively:
I'm selective about accepting hand-me-downs. I gratefully accept hand-me-downs (they are the best!) but I will first ask if they want the clothes back or want me to pass them on to someone else and I am up front that I can only take what I really need to ensure feelings aren't hurt. I try to remember my list above of what the kids really need versus what is cute.
I wrote before about sharing baby gear (Previous post here) and I think the same can be done with baby and kid clothes and accessories (especially shoes and coats). I believe in sharing as much as possible to get the most wear out of tiny clothes and shoes but you can't be to precious about them. I am lucky to have a few friends where our kid's are close enough in age that we keep in communication about clothing we are parting with to see if the other needs them. We are all trying to keep clothes to a minimum, though we still care about aesthetics. A quick text with photos and "do you need this?" seems to be the best route and then meeting up as soon as possible to get the clothes out of your house.
When I don't have a friend to give something to and I just need to get it out of my home, I also donate to our local thrift store. I often have thoughts of consigning clothes but I am never organized enough to drop off the clothes on the one day a month they accept consignments.
No Room for Sentimentality:
The reality is, in a small space there is very little room to save multiple clothes and blankets and accessories for keepsakes. This is one reason I take so many pictures of my kids. I don't want to forget what they looked like, what they wore, how little they were. But I don't need to hang on to the physical item to reminisce. I don't think clothes sitting in a box on a shelf for years is serving anyone. So I pass on the kid's clothes to friends with kids that can use the clothes right away. To answer a question I have been asked a lot... where do I save the kid's first shoes, first sleeper, first blanket... I don't. For me, those are just things that I am able to part with.
I get so much joy from seeing my friend's kids in my kid's clothes that I carefully chose and loved. And it multiplies as I see the clothes cycle through multiple kids. I think kids clothes are meant to be worn out from being passed down and playing hard.
I did save one small box of my favourite baby clothes of Theo's for Mae. In the end, Mae just never looked right in Theo's clothes and grew at such a fast rate the seasons didn't line up. I ended up giving more away than I kept 2 years after saving them. If they were the same gender I think it would have been easier to share clothes or if had planned ahead and bought more gender neutral clothes. Now when choosing key items for Theo, like rain boots or coats I try to think of Mae possibly wearing it in the future.