I’m getting such great ideas from reading your blog. Thanks for putting them out there for the rest of us!
I am the mother of three daughters, ages six, three and a half, and two months old. When I was pregnant with my first, someone told me to save everything. Every article of clothing, every shoe, every toy, every piece of baby equipment, EVERYTHING, because it can all be used again with the next child. So I have been.
The problem I’m having is that as my children get older, and as we have more kids, we keep saving more and more. Even with hand-me-downs, we still buy all our children new clothes and sometimes new toys. Saving everything might be saving us money in the long run, but it’s causing problems in other areas, mostly in the clutter area. What is your policy on saving and passing down clothing and toys? Is it even worth it to save things?
Oh this is a topic near and dear my clutter hating heart.
It is that time of year again, when we do the clothing switch. Bringing out the cold weather clothes and packing up or getting rid of the summer things.
I save very little. Some of the big ticket items I saved, like the crib and double stroller and have used them with all the children. But we have been through several crib mattresses, because how many times can a mattress be peed, pooped and thrown up on before it looks like it belongs on the floor of a crack house. Unless I was already pregnant while I was still using them, things like swings, exersaucers, bouncy seats, infant toys, infant carseats… all those got passed on to someone else who could use them or I donated them to a local women’s shelter. Sometimes I got things passed on to me that were like new in return, more often I bought new things when I needed them. I also discovered that I didn’t really need as many things as I thought I had to have with my first.
Things have changed in the ten years from when I had my first child to when I had my seventh. The car seats I used have all been recalled or expired. Swings with batteries were a brand new thing 12 years ago, most people I knew still had wind up ones, wind up ones that played really annoying music. I don’t recall any of those vibrating bouncy seats that my youngest couple of children loved.
My point being that new things will come out that you will prefer. Safety issues will arise that will make some items unusable. Car seats now have expiration dates. You might as well pass these things on to someone who could use them now. At least that is my thinking.
I have to state here a huge pet peeve of mine. Frequently I was offered clothing or baby items from people who would say, “I want these back when you are done.” I would always hand them the items right back and say, “Well, keep it then because I do not want to be responsible for your things.” The point being, if you are giving something to someone, give it with no strings. Give it with the expectation that you will never see it again. If you can’t do that, you should probably hang onto it.
As a rule I do not save toys, especially baby toys. The exceptions to this are things that I would save for grandchildren, like the huge Brio/Thomas train set which my 21 month old is actually going to “get” for Christmas this year. I do store toys up in the attic and rotate them out with toys in our family room. These are things like Duplos, the Duplo train sets, wooden blocks, etc.
Infant and clothing up to 24months I used to save everything that was in perfect condition and that I actually used. (now that I have no more babies I don’t need to save any of this any longer) So that really cute 6mos sized sweater that no one ever wore because it was itchy and made the baby look like a fat sausage, give it away.
You have already said that you like to buy your kids new clothes in addition to the hand me downs. Maybe you should think about the stuff you don’t really care to buy again when weeding through. For me it is things like pajamas, hooded sweatshirts, and any sort of outerwear. Those things I save in their own bins. I replenish them when I find them on sale.
The older kids clothing I have a rubbermaid for each kid. When the season ends I go through their clothing in their drawer anything in perfect condition goes into the bin. When the season rolls around again each kid gets their bin back we open them up and see what still fits them, has anything sprung stains from marinating in the attic for six months, and if it doesn’t fit you will it fit a sibling. Often we have more to give away.
At that point I go through their clothes and make a spreadsheet of what they have, what they need, and what I would like to find and write down the sizes. This is so much easier when you have boys. I don’t think I have ever said, “Oh I have to find an outfit to match those fabulous purple shoes.” about one of my sons.
Um, yuck, no never save these. The only exceptions to this are dress shoes that have only been worn a handful of times , winter boots, and ski boots (which really aren’t shoes but ski equipment). Cleats are not saved. because the idea of having another child wear a used pair of sweaty cleats is gross to me. I should also add here that my children are big time sports kids. So we are not talking about cleats that are worn a handful of times by a child who spends the hour once a week gazing into the sky praying that the ball doesn’t come near them.
I think children really deserve their own pair of new shoes. It is one of those large family stereotypes that really bother me.
Dress Up Clothes:
I save these and store them seperately. I have a closet of little suit jackets, dress pants, khakis, bitton down dress shirts, ties, and dress socks. It makes it much easier when we are invited to an even to go to the one location and see what we have for everyone and what, if anything, we need.
Tommorrow I will have a post specifically about winter outerwear. Because sadly winter is almost here.