Wednesday, October 6, 2010 sorting doesn't drive me crazy

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are piles of clothes, green, yellow, white and blue;
If you can calmly fit five shirts on Junior
While Brother cries because he wants one, too.
If four children with loud voices wildly shouting,
Don't find you a grumpy cackling Mother Hen,
And you answer with a meek and gentle spirit
You are a better mom than I, my Friend!"

Apologies to Kipling for the bad adaption of his poem.

It is the start of a new season, which means clothing sorting time. NOT my favorite activity.

I knew it needed done this week. On Saturday I hope to attend a big kid's stuff yard sale and I'd like to fill in the gaps of my children's wardrobes. 

If you all have any hints on how to alleviate the stress level when bringing boxes down from the attic and trying clothing on four children - I'd love to hear it! Not that the children are stressed, they have a blast! Picture crazy dances with pants on their heads, huge shoes on their feet and hands stuck in a baby sweater.

I had no intention of starting the process yesterday, but the children wanted to go outside. They were quite willing to go barefoot like the past four months. But mom declared the weather too cold and decreed shoes and coats a necessity - except that no one seemed find any that fit.


By the time, all the coats and shoes were sorted out for everyone, as well as snowsuits and snowboots and who knows what else, my blood pressure was through the roof. I decreed it naptime for my own sanity and we never did get outside. When your daughter asks why mom is so angry, you know you are a failure.

Today I need to tackle the boys clothing. I did the girl's earlier, so maybe then I'll be done.

Sometimes I wonder why I store all this clothing. But it sure has saved us money. We've been blessed by several people who share hand-me-downs. With the help of yard sales and generous friends, I basically buy no new clothing or shoes. I do purchase fabric for the girl's dresses since it is almost impossible to find nice modest girl's dresses. I've bought socks and unders and  maybe one pair of sandals. I've picked up a few coats during the spring sales but that is about all the new purchases I've made. And it isn't that I spend every weekend at yard sales. Usually I go to two or three a year but this year I haven't even went once.

So a miserable afternoon or two spent sorting it all out is worth it. But if any of you have some hints on the whole clothing sorting/storing problem - I'm all ears!


  1. I only had 2 girls and from what I hear, many things are easier with girls than with boys. I can't give you an answer, but at the end of each season we'd go through and give away anything that I knew they would not fit into next year or that the younger sibling wasn't interested in having. When they got a little older they started doing this for themselves...not too far away for ya. Keep looking up and, Hey, it's only a couple days out of the year that you must tackle this job.

    Happy sorting :)

  2. You aren't the only one doing this! My daughter's room has four BIG bins of clothes stacked up that need sorting. Clothes going into the closet... clothes coming out... little brother's clothes going both directions. I'd like to say I got right on it, but those bins have been there for the last six weeks while we've been canning and freezing like fiends! Hopefully some of that "spare time" that I keep hearing about will break out all around, and we'll all get our sorting done. :)

  3. I'll be at that yard sale! Not that we'll run into each other in that crazy crowd, but it's nice to know you'll be in the same parking lot as me. =)

  4. Gina,
    We all go through this process, but one thing that helps me, is to pick a shirt and pants in the size that is needed for the season, then go through and hold the others up to them instead of trying on every single item. I also keep a clothes bar downstairs all year with the coats on it. Then all I have to do is look at the hanging coats and jackets to see if I need to fill in any where. They are sized and in order from biggest to smallest. Hope that helps!

  5. We too are in the midst of this mess (at least for the girls ~ they started on Saturday)
    We have six children and four of them are girls. It is c.r.a.z.y. when we change out the clothes.
    I would say the boys are easier because their clothes are much more basic ~ generally the jeans fit or don't, are nice enough for 'going to town' or working in the barn. (and there are ONLY two of them ;-))
    Our girls have ..too.many.clothes..
    yet often not the "right thing" to wear. (??) Part of that comes with the tons of hand-me-downs we've gotten from family who wore their tops with jeans,etc. instead of skirts. I'm thankful, but the mix and match can be a challenge.

    I don't know how many R-maid totes we have for clothes storage, but I was given things to fit a 12yo when our oldest was still in diapers... (but didn't have to buy her many winter coats either - so NICE!) My sister's dd is 29yo; our children are 8 to 17yo ~ you can see the need for long-term storage.

    I'm sorry ~ this is more of a commiserating vent than helpful hints for you. =)

    The good news is that the last couple years with the oldest girls teens and the youngest old enough to cooperate, they do almost all of it without me! They come and often show me (modeling) for approval. And help make a list of what's missing for essentials (ie, white shirts to wear with anything)

    I guess my "helpful hint" would be to try to stay on top of what's needed (for your sewing/shopping list) and *get rid of* what is worn out or not 'working' with your children's style of clothing - kwim? Otherwise, PLAN the crazy days into your schedule if you can, so that you're not struggling with the huge project on top of other agendas. I always thought it would be easier to work with one child at a time, but it doesn't happen that way in reality... So put supper in the crockpot...

    And another idea for your future: last year, my DH decided the 3 teens needed to buy their own clothes. We put $$ in a checking account for them, got debit cards, and they are supposed to make the necessary purchase decisions. (and if they run out, they spend their own earings) INteresting to see how the personalities play out in that project =)

    whew ~ Is there a word limit on comments?!

  6. Oh my ~ I just exceeded the limit on comment length!

    Short version?

    We have six children, 8-17yo. I've been receiving hand-me-downs since the start ~ and many that were y.e.a.r.s. in storage waiting to be fit into ;-) (BUT thankful for the little bit of coat and Sunday dress shopping we had to do for our oldest especially)

    Changing out clothes here is crazy. Now they are old enough to do most of it without me. YAY!

    If you can, get rid of the questionable items (I kept way too many things for our kids). And make a list as you go through the boxes each year/season for your shopping/sewing needs.

    I think our boys (only 2) are easier than the 4 girls. If you dress girls modestly, it doesn't come easy. Nuff said? We have an outlet mall and a tax-free weekend in August, so I try to buy jeans for the year for my hubby and boys then.

    It might have helped my sanity to PLAN the Crazy Days (off) into my schedule? Put supper in the crockpot and jump into the fun - ha. I often thought it would be easier to work with one child at a time, but don't think I ever managed that in reality.

    Our teens now have a clothing allowance for the year, so they are learning responsibility for their purchase decisions.

    ...hope that is short enough now!... =)

  7. I dread this every year! It seems to take so much time away form other things I could be doing. This year my boys are both wearing the same size and being in an 8 means no hand me downs at all. So off to find some good deals. I think it is just as stressful as trying on bins worth of clothing. Boys clothes in size 8 are more expensive that little boy clothes! The girls love trying on clothes, so I usually put a movie on and make them try on while watching. At least they only complain about missing a scene. We don't watch TV at all so a movie is a treat. As I take out the clothing in their closet form the previous season, I inspect for stains, treat if necessary, and hang on a hanger to sell at consignment. This makes it easier to do the consignment sale and see what we might keep for the next year. I do try to buy skirts with elastic waist that will last through two seasons and even clothes that can be worn all year.

    I noticed your Goods bag, love that store, I go to the one next to Shady Maple.

  8. Don't do it! I measure the clothes /shoes against the things that already fit them or are the size they're growing into. That means no trying on anything and it all fits when it needs to.
    If they do need to try anything on, you say they have to try it on and see if they can find the hidden candy that's in one of the shoes or pockets :o)

  9. We are going through the same thing right now. It takes me at least a week to get through the process of switching out things. I am so thankful though that the Lord provides our needs with hand me downs even if I have to store them for quiet some time. I just always make sure I put a size on every container with clothes in them and store only that size in that container! THe only problem I have is sometimes I seem to misplace totes! :) I don't have storage at my house so I have to store at my moms and my mother in laws not a good recipe for keeping things in tact! I also love the fact that we get to bless others by passing down items. It is such a blessing to me to receive hand me downs because we truly need them, so I always love passing on! We rarely almost never buy anything but shoes,socks,undergarments new! Good luck on getting it all done!

  10. I always dreaded doing this, and I don't envy you one bit! But it was one more way to stretch a dollar.

    Believe it or not, you will miss this when they are grown and out of the house!

  11. I'm with you Joy! Hand me downs are a HUGE blessing!

  12. Hello,
    I found your blog through another friend. I was just helping my daughter with this very thing yesterday. One of the things that helped was deciding how many outfits they needed for the week. She does laundry a couple of times a week so we made sure that we had enough outfits for the week, a few nice out fits and we kept for the younger ones what they would wear during this season. Babies grow so fast. There are many here who swap out clothing with one another so it is helpful to have those hand me downs. It might be helpful to sort through the clothes that are given to you when you get them. I know many times my daughter is given clothes that are not suitable so those go right off. Bins labeled with sizes are the best idea. I have a friend who had from newborn right up to sizes beyond what her children fit in but she had a full basement and was able to store them all. When she did her changing out she sorted for stains and such before putting them away and she just changed out the sizes so she did not go through all of the trying on. One outfit usually told her which size needed to be brought up.
    Except for the boys jeans she really didn't have a problem because if they were summer clothes they were wearing then they changed out everything. She rarely bought anything except for underclothes. It is a lot of work in the beginning but once the bins are organized by size it worked well.

  13. I actually look forward to the changing on the seasons and figuring out what we need clotheswise. But the thing is - I seldom involve the children in the process. I have three older boys which means HAND-ME-DOWNS!! the oldest gets really good quality clothing (usually brand new) because it has to last through three brothers. The baby girl has a cousin a little older so she gets all the hand-me-downs so I'm good there.

    A few months before the season changes - usually when the stores start sellling the next season's clothes I go to my own clothing storage stash. I keep all the clothing in clear bins and labeled by size. Like 'size 5 boys' or 'size 12 boys'. I will add summer or winter clothes to the same bin if it is in the same size range. Then when it is time to get out the new clothes, I retrieve it from our garage storage bins and put it in their rooms. I will spend the next few days - an hour here or there - sorting through the bin. I do that holding up the clothes trick that others described. Then, I will get a shirt or two, a pair of pants, and a jacket and make the boys each try on the respective clothes.

    When I feel satisfied about what fits and what we have - I go to my computer where I have a document saved titled 'Boys' clothing needs'. It is a document I made years ago where I list what we need for winter and for summer like:
    -5 pairs pants
    -6-7 shirts

    etc. You get the picture. I will check off what we have and what we need and make a note like next to the shirt part I'll put need 3 more shirts. Then I hit the consignment stores, goodwill, Ross, T.J Maxx, garage sales. I usually have all this done by the time the weather changes. Because this process is months before and because I spend a week doing it in small stages it doesn't seem that big at all. In fact, I like "shopping" our own clothing storage and then hunting down the good deals!!

  14. I love how real you are, Gina! After my third one was born, any big project becomes a mountain. I don't have any words of wisdom as I am still working on organizing myself. But thanks for being yourself.

  15. I just posted this:

  16. I haven't started yet... TODAY is the day! Deep breath!!!!

  17. I love to organize. Okay, perhaps I don't always like the process of organizing, but I do love that feeling of accomplishment afterward. But then again, I don't have any little ones anymore either:( BTW I noticed your Goods bag there on the floor. I love that store. I don't know where you're from but we have a Goods here in Lancaster Co. and every time I get down there I have to stop.

  18. When my children were younger, they had boatloads of clothing stored away. It was a fun process of changing seasons...Trying on things, seeing 'new' items from old or passed down items, seeing what fit and didn't fit... This year was a bit different - not quite the 'fun' I remembered it to be. I was behind schedule, we took part of the day off school to get it accomplished, and I found that I was completely missing one child's sizes! But on a good note, my 2 older ones need fewer clothes because they don't grow as quickly.

  19. I just realized (didn't read the full post, sorry!) that you wanted a helpful hint. Hmmm... Sometimes I separated my younger ones from my older ones (different days). Sometimes we ONLY went through 1 box at a time (took longer but was more sane for me). I did it sort of assembly line style - I look at outfits & make piles for each child bin by bin, child tries on - if it doesn't fit, they give back to me and I fold while they try on next item. I put the big (or little) item back into an empty bin for next year. Or if my children are old enough, then I have them neatly fold the item that doesn't fit. If an item fits NO ONE in the family (too small), I make a pile of giveaway.

  20. Gina, you are NOT a failure.



I love to hear from you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails