If you have kids, then you know all too well that kids’ clothing is a never-ending battle. If you’re striving to live simply, it can be enough to make you think you can never be a minimalist and have kids. We are pretty relaxed when it comes to their grooming, but it’s still an ongoing issue for several reasons:
They are always growing. Really this one is reason enough. I have one who will have huge growth spurts during which she outgrows everything she has. My other one grows much more slowly and gradually. He’s also pretty small for his age, which probably means that one of these days he is going to jump several sizes in a month. He usually gets pretty good wear out of his clothing so he’s been a little easier in this category.
They always find a way to get dirty so things can rarely be worn again before washing. Rarely do you meet a mom who doesn’t battle the laundry pile. It is not just the boys who always find a mud puddle, but my girl always has paint or glue or nail polish stains. She can also go through more outfits in half a day than Carrie Underwood on an awards show, so training her to not throw something that was worn for ten minutes in the laundry has been a challenge.
Clothing from others. This could be gifts from family and hand-me-downs. I am very thankful for both, as kids’ clothes can break the budget. But with these freebies I’ve had to come to terms that not everything will work and not to hang on to it just because it was free. At one point I had several large tubs of hand-me-downs that my kids couldn’t fit into yet. They were overwhelming and taking up space I needed. If I know that my daughter isn’t going to like it, why hold on to it for two years? I’ve also gotten a pretty good feel for the “fit” that’s right, especially for my really slim one. So anything husky, I’m not going to keep for future use for him.
With our transition from homeschooling to public school and with them getting older, I’ve noticed that clothing them has gotten more complex. My son doesn’t care what he wears, but I do want him to look presentable every day. My daughter is much more opinionated. They also have taken on activities like hockey and basketball that require appropriate clothing.
As the school year began, I was very purposeful in what we purchased, not just because we had a tight budget, but because I wanted dressing them each day to be easy. So, in a sense I tried to create a capsule wardrobe for them, using pieces we already had and thinking of a general color scheme for each of them.
I confess that I wanted to go out and buy ALL THE THINGS because I was feeling a tad anxious about everything. When I’m anxious or nervous I tend to over plan, over analyze and try to be prepared for any and every scenario. Do my kids need a rain jacket? Yes. Do my kids need a hazmat suit for school? No. Did it cross my mind? Maybe. You get the idea.
So here are some tips for clothing your kids in the here and now:
Colors. I know a color scheme is important to most women and while a year ago I would have scoffed at someone telling me to choose a color palette for my son, it just makes sense. If I have a color scheme in mind for each of them, I can eliminate impulse buys and most importantly everything will ideally work together. Just like eliminating a certain color from my wardrobe keeps me from having to have a matching purse, shoes, accessories, etc. It does the same for my kids as well. Because they grow so quickly, do we really want to have black and brown dress shoes that they will only wear for MAYBE one season and only a couple times during that season at that? Pick one and stick with it.
Layers and Multifunctional pieces. Stretch the use of their clothes by using pieces even in their off season. Kentucky is notorious for quickly changing weather and we get to experience all four seasons during a year. Sometimes I am really envious of those in a climate with little change (Dreaming of the day we move to Hawaii…) but I love my old Kentucky home, so we have to be outfitted for all weather. With that said, I don’t want to have a full wardrobe each season, but rather try to incorporate some from each season into the next. By using off season clothing by layering we reduce the amount of clothing we need to buy and get more use of what we do have. Plus we’ll have t-shirts at hand for those seventy degree days in the winter. A year ago I wrote a more general post about kids and their clothing. In one point I had said, “Reduce the amount of current clothes for your child. I don’t know how many seasons and growth spurts have come and gone with my child not wearing everything they had. The only logical explanation is we have too much.” So reduce and use throughout the year!
Consider your life stage and lifestyle. Last year we homeschooled and while we did not wear pajamas all day every day, our clothing was very casual. Most days they were in athletic pants/leggings with a t-shirt. This year being in school, we are wearing nicer clothes. So just think about your life stage and buy accordingly. Are your kids younger or older? Do you homeschool or send them to school? Be practical as you think through any special events that might come up, such as holidays. While its tempting or may be necessary to buy an entirely new outfit, see if you can pull from what you already have. You may only need to be one of two pieces to create that special moment.
Clothing your kids can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By being intentional and planning, you can clothe your kids with less and get more use out of what you have for them.