Saturday, October 30, 2010

Managing Hand-me-downs

My kids have been blessed with lots of older cousins and friends which means every season there are bags of hand-me-downs dropped off at my doorstep.  When I had just 2 kids it wasn't too overwhelming, but now that I have 5, these bags have turned into a mountain.  I'm sure that it has saved us hundreds of dollars over the years.  I have barely ever had to buy my kids clothes, but for years this blessing at times has felt like a burden.  I would cringe when I saw friends show up with a bag.  I just didn't have room to store it all and it felt so unorganized.

It's not that I didn't try - but my system wasn't working.  I had clothes sorted by gender, by size...but I had multiple sizes and sometime my kids could wear 2 or 3 different sizes on the same day depending on the outfit.  Then I would be given random pieces here and there and would have to dig out the boxes and try to shove it in.  All the boxes were up in our tiny attic and it was such a chore.

I finally found a system that works for me and it has made my life so much easier. 

I bought 2 large plastic bins per child.  They are labeled with their name and Summer or Winter.  I have learned to only keep what I really love...what I would be willing to spend money on, and not what I feel pressured into keeping.  These bins are for their grow-into clothes.  If it doesn't fit in the bin, then they have too much and I sort through it again.

It is organized by season and child-not by size and that has made all the difference for me.  When the season changes, I take out their bins and all the clothes that may fit again next year and are in nice enough condition, are put back in their bin, replaced with this seasons clothes.  Things that are too small are passed onto younger siblings or cousins or donated to the thrift shop.
I also have 2 bins for any future babies organized by gender.
I recently switched over to our Fall clothes and while it is still a project - I think it is mostly because I have so many children and not because it is unorganized.

I don't save shoes, except for winter and mud boots which seem to last forever.  These are thrown in their own bin.  Winter coats and sweatshirts are also stored separately.  They are overly bulky so I use those storage bags that the air can be vacuumed out of.  Hats and gloves are also thrown in their own box.  I try to buy neutral colors so they can be shared by siblings.  I should just by all one color so we don't have to worry about finding a match.

At this house I am still lugging everything up the pull-down attic ladder.  In our new house, we will have actual stairs that lead to the attic with a cape cod roof.  I  can stand up in there and it will make it even easier.  I feel like I have my own children's boutique.  We are planning in the future to finish off the attic and maybe build a closet so that winter coats can just be hung up - but for now my system works for me and makes hand-me-downs easier to handle.


  1. thanks for sharing. i only have 1 little one and i feel overwhelmed sometimes by the clothes. i needed a better way to store them. thanks!!

  2. I have 5 litle ones too; ages 6,5,3,2,1 and one on the way!

    I too get overwhelmed with the clothing mountain. I am so blessed that I hardly have to shop for the kids!!!


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