Sorting clothes for six children each season has been one of my biggest organizing challenges over the years. I understand why some mothers of many don’t store clothing to pass down. It takes an enormous amount of time and space!
But like any big job, you’ve just got to dive in and this week is as good as any.
#1 & #2 Sort & Make Shopping List for Kids
Sorting kids’ clothes will likely take you more than 15 minutes. I am allotting two days to do this. You may need more time like I do. If you want to hand clothes down, start this process with your oldest child. Here is the process I use:
- Do kids’ laundry
- Collect same items (all short-sleeve shirts together, for example)
- Put clothing in poor condition in the trash. That includes socks and underwear!
- Determine which items are outgrown by eye balling or having your child try them on
- Put clothing that is never worn or is too small in hand-me-downs or in a giveaway bag (I use the large leaf bags).
- Store clothing that is too large in the closet to sort next season. I use white fabric storage bins and plastic drawers.
- Count remaining items (how many casual shorts, etc.).
- Decide how many of each item it’s reasonable to keep (I keep ten casual pieces because my kids are hard on their clothes and it gives me a little lag time on laundry. I keep three church outfits).
- Have your children help you choose their favorites to keep and put the rest in the giveaway bag. You may want to do this in outfits. Put shorts and shirts together, for example. (I recommend against keeping these items as hand-me-downs. If one child doesn’t like it, the next one probably won’t either). Put keepers away.
- Make a shopping list of items each child needs. I like to add this to my iPhone reminders list with the groceries. I often pick up groceries at Target or Walmart and having them on the list keeps me from forgetting to pick them up when I’m there. I also like to shop at home. My 14-year-old needed shorts and I just bought several pair for him from Kohls using Kohls cash and a discount code.
#3 Sort & Make Shopping List for Yourself
You can go through the same process for yourself that you did for the kids. You may enjoy reading how I learned to keep my wardrobe organized.
#4 Take Clothing to Consignment or Charity
In my city, there are many charities that make pick-ups from your home of these items. We also have regular church sales so they accept donations most of the year. But there’s nothing like having my husband load it all up and take it away to Goodwill!
If you want to put clothes on consignment, select the best items and prepare them according to the directions of your favorite store. Put all items into the back of your vehicle so you’re forced to deliver them soon. You’ll be eager to do this the first time you go to load groceries into the back of a car that is already full of clothes!
Do you have any tips for keeping clothing organized at your house?
Here is this month’s printable get-organized homeschool calendar and a list of previous challenges.
Organized Homeschool Challenge
Week 1: Daily Devotions Challenge
Week 2: Daily Routine Challenge
Week 3: To-Do List Challenge
Week 4: Memory Keeping Challenge
Week 5: The Decluttering Challenge
Week 6: The Organized Computer Challenge
Week 7: The Marriage of Your Dreams Challenge
Week 8: The Confident Parent Challenge
Week 9: The Extended Family Challenge
Week 10: The Bring on the Spring Challenge
Week 11: The Spring Cleaning Challenge
Week 12: The Organized Easter Challenge
Week 13: The Serve the Church Challenge
Week 14: The Chore Challenge
Week 15: The Organize Your Finances Challenge
Week 16: The Curriculum Challenge
Week 17: The Friendship Challenge
Week 18: The Family Celebrations Challenge
When one of my friends saw me reading this book, she asked, “Does it just say ‘Get a housekeeper’?'” No, it doesn’t. But I understood the question. I’ve read every major housekeeping and organizational book published in the last 15 years and with a few exceptions, I’ve been disappointed.
The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark is hands down the best book on the subject I have ever read! Why the glowing praise you ask? Because Ms. Clark suggests you stop trying to fight nature–yours that is. All my adult life I have been trying to be organized the way naturally organized people are. I have a huge list of “shoulds” that I perpetually fail in. It’s very depressing feeling like a constant failure. Don’t get me wrong, with God’s, FlyLady’s, and Don Aslett’s help, I am probably a B student in the housekeeping and organization category. If you’ve read my book, you know that’s a far cry from the failing grade I received in graduate school.
I still long to be an A student. I don’t expect to be a virtuoso, just an A student. That’s why I bought this book that a friend recommended. I scored well on the housekeeping quiz, putting me into the category of “Use this book for tips.” I would eventually like to use her system as specified throughout my house, but I was too excited not to start immediately.
What’s So Different About A House That Cleans Itself?
So what’s so different about this approach? Before THTCI I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Yes, I’ve shaved off some of my sharp edges over the years. I do have routines and put many things away right away. But I still have boxes of filing to do, for example. I “should” file at least once a week, right? Nope. It’s more like once a year. For half an hour. Thus my problem. Anyway, Ms. Clark suggests that while some shaving of our square edges is appropriate, we should start by creating square holes. Eureka! Now what on earth does that mean?
It means stop trying to force yourself to do things the way the naturally organized do them. Work with your natural habits. That includes dealing with husbands and children.
How THTCI Changed My Entryway
I have a coat rack next to the front door. I expected my children to behave like naturally organized children and hang their coats up on the hooks. Instead, they stuffed them into the small, unsightly laundry basket my husband put under the rack. The basket couldn’t contain all the gloves, hats, and coats so they usually ended up spread all over the floor until someone (that would be me) picked them up. I tried labeling the coat rack to no avail. There were too many coats for the rack (at least one winter coat and one light jacket per child plus adult coats).
After reading THTCI I really thought about how to solve the problem. I cleaned out my entry closet, purging it, and putting all adult coats there. I don’t mind hanging up my coat. I took Ms. Clark’s excellent advice and added a clear shoe holder to the inside of my entry door to hold gloves. Why didn’t I think of that?? I put all hats and scarves in another basket that is stored on the top shelf of the closet. The only time my children wear these is for sledding and serious outside time in the winter. There is no need for continuous access. I left the spring jackets hanging on hooks. Since the basket was removed that left two options for the coats: hooks or the floor.
Yes, I’m hopeful the kids will use the hooks now, but how can I further combat the floor throwing? I thought “a chest!” If I put a chest in my entry way they could just throw their coats in there as they came in. They’re not visible and not cluttering up the coat rack. I looked on Craigslist for a chest, but dh and I realized we had a barely-used toy box that would serve the same purpose. I couldn’t be more thrilled with our neat entryway.
How THTCI Changed My Filing System
Now what about filing? What I hate about filing is creating all the new folders and labels and deciding in what category and sub-category each thing should go in. Meanwhile all my stuff is in two boxes that I dig through when I need to find something. Could there be a solution that was somewhere in the middle?
Yep! I found expanding hanging file folders in different colors. They hang wide open (and have sides) in your file box or cabinet, making sorting quick and simple. Rather than put papers into detailed files and categories, they go in major categories which are assigned a different color: to do, homeschool, writing/speaking, records, etc. As these fill up (and they hold a LOT), I will just put a new file in front of it. This approach utilizes the advantage of a lever file system (most recent papers are filed in front or to the left if using binders). I won’t have detailed files, but if I need a receipt for an appliance bought recently I’ll go to the green records hanging file in front. I’m still digging, but not nearly as deeply or as long!
This system would drive naturally organized people completely nuts. But it will work for me. I’m already completely excited about filing! I’ll be sharing other changes I make as a result of my new philosophy.
Why You Should Read The House That Cleans Itself
If you’re not naturally organized, I highly recommend THTCI. It will make you think, make you laugh, and will even help you see housekeeping from a spiritual perspective. If you are not Christian, you may have trouble relating to some of the content. I found the faith-based approach helpful and very refreshing. If you make any changes as a result of reading the book (or this blog post), please let me know!
You may also enjoy my organization and productivity board on Pinterest.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board Organization & Productivity on Pinterest.