By contributing writer Erin Long
In one week three friends on three separate occasions complained to me about their kids’ clothes. All three women felt overwhelmed by the laundry and found it nearly impossible to maintain a semblance of control even over clean clothes, much less the dirty ones.
And each of them said the same thing: My kids have so many clothes.
Between hand-me-downs, outfits that are just way too cute to pass up, and how many clothes kids can get dirty in one day it’s easy for the sheer volume of our kids’ wardrobes to be staggering.
I was there a few years ago. When our youngest was a newborn I was drowning in kids clothes and I hated that their clothes were stressing me out. So I decided that each of our three kids got one drawer in their 3-drawer dresses and all their clothes had to fit in that one drawer. I also started folding their clothes KonMarie style. Those two changes were revolutionary.
It’s been a couple years since I made those changes and I have never looked back. When I tell friends that all my kids’ clothes fit into one drawer each, there’s a sense of disbelief.
How do they have enough clothes to wear?
Do you wash a load of laundry every day?
How do they all fit?!?!
What about out-of-season clothes?
My kids have more than enough clothes, I do an average of four loads of laundry a week, and with the right folding method it all fits. I keep one medium sized bin for each kid for clothes they’re not wearing now. If I don’t have room in their bin, I don’t buy anything new.
Because my kids are young, they’re 2, 4, and 6 years old, this works. I don’t expect it to last forever but by the time they need more space they’ll be able to do their own laundry and their clothes will be their responsibility, not mine.
So how exactly does this all work? Here’s what my kids are wearing this summer:
6 Year Old Girl
• 6 shirts • 1 shorts • 2 skirts • 3 tights • 1 jeans • 5 dresses • 2 sweaters • 3 pajamas
My daughter wears dresses all year and choosing ones with sleeves makes life so easy – she can wear them in any season! So for the summer she mostly has dresses. During the school year her wardrobe consists of all of the above plus: seven pairs of tights, four pairs of jeans, two cardigans, three long sleeve t-shirts, and two sweaters. We do keep her sock/undies in a separate basket.
4 Year Old Boy
• 10 shirts • 5 shorts • 2 jeans • 1 sweatshirt • 1 pajamas
Here’s where my one drawer rule gets tricky. My four-year-old goes through so. many. bottoms. He has up to seven pants/shorts and when I end up doing an extra load of laundry because someone’s run out of something, 9 times out of 10 it’s because the four-year-old needs pants.
Being a boy, his wardrobe is pretty straight forward. The only change to his wardrobe for colder weather is adding two sweatshirts, one sweater, and two pairs of pajamas.
2 Year Old Boy
• 10 shirts • 5 shorts • 3 pants • 1 sweatshirt • 4 pajamas
Obviously, the toddler has the most clothes. He’s getting to the point where he often can go a whole day wearing only one outfit (and the heavens rejoiced) but he still does need more clothes than the other two. But fortunately his clothes are still tiny! In addition to what’s listed above, his wardrobe can include: two sweatshirts, three sweaters, and seven pairs of pants.
See? Totally doable. My kids don’t ever wear all their clothes in a week and I’m not a slave to laundry.
Just as creating my own capsule wardrobe freed up time and mental space for more important things, so does limiting how many clothes my kids own. My hope is that, from the start, my kids will understand that they don’t need lots of stuff to make them happy and that less truly is more.