Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thinning out the herd

Laundry. Sigh. Every-day chore that I never seem to catch up on. Laundry.

Sounds poetic, right?  Well, it doesn't quite feel that way when our tiny mudroom is overflowing with dirty laundry.

We have a family of five, including three kids:  Benji (5), Josiah (2-1/2), and Calah (9-1/2 mos). 

Needless to say, they go through a LOT of laundry every week.  We have spills, diaper explosions, and hand-wipe-marked clothes just about every day, so the younger kids can go through up to three outfits per day. Each.  Then, you add bibs, towels (for the spills, of course), cloth diapers, sheets, and my clothes and Hubs' clothes, and you have a mountainesque pile of laundry.


(source)

If only my laundry was as beautiful and glorious as Mt. Everest.  I was tired of stepping over and around the mounds, so I decided it was time to thin out the herd (of clothes, of course.  I can't kick these people out for another 13, 16, and 18 years, respectively).  I asked Hubs to bring into the house all of the tubs holding clothes and shoes from the garage.  I pulled out all the kids' clothes from their drawers and the closets.  All.at.once.  I wish I had taken a picture of it but I might have to go into hiding from the embarrassment.

Then, I started making piles.  Piles of sizes and types of clothing.  I put some outfits together for Calah (the baby).  The boys can just wear jeans or 'swishy-pants' and a tee or long sleeved shirt.  Simple.  But, ladies, you know we have all spent countless wasted hours trying to pick out an outfit, and Hubs is the one that gets them dressed during the week while I head off to work in the office, so I tried to make it easier on him by folding a top with matching pants or leggings for Calah.  I have come home a few times with my girl looking like a boy.  The almost-bald head doesn't help.  One side note:  I came home the other night and she was wearing a Chicago Bears sweatshirt and sweatpants but had on pink socks and a pink headband. I just thought that was awesome.  The perfect way to show that she's a girl while wearing some Bears swag (Oh great, now I have 'Bear Down Chicago Bears' in my head...that'll be there all day). 

Anyway, here's a breakdown of the steps:
If you're not as crazy as I am, I would suggest doing this process for one child at a time.
  1. Pull out the old. Pull out all the tops, pants, and dresses or one-piece outfits if applicable.
  2. Sort it out by size.  Check the sizes to make sure that you only have items that still fit the child.  If something is too small, store it in a rubbermaid container or donate it to a friend or Goodwill.  If your child won't be able to fit it for at least six months or is not appropriate for the season, store it in a container and when the next season comes,  you can re-evaluate.
  3. Sort it out by outfits and keep it to a minimum. I decided that the oldest child needs about 10 everyday outfits plus 2-3 nicer outfits for church or other events.  The younger two need a little more because they still go through more than one outfit per day typically.  For Calah, I put a pair of pants with a shirt and stuck them in the drawer.  Her skirts and other pants and tops that could not be made into outfits, I put in another drawer and stacked them in piles of pants, tops, and skirts.  Her dresses get hung up and her one-piece outfits go in the 'outfit' drawer.  For the boys, I just put all their pants together and all their shirts together since their outfits are simple.  Their sweaters, polos, and suits are hung up in the closet.
  4. Donate & Purge. I found that my kids had waaay more clothes than I realized.  We have a lot of generous friends and family that have given us so many hand-me-downs and birthday/Christmas/justbecausethey'recute gifts and I have always kept everything in the past.  But, I'm realizing that since we are VERY limited on space, I simply can't keep everything.  Or even most things.  So, my girl clothes are going to my cousin who is a first time mommy-to-be with a little girl and my boy clothes are going to Once Upon A Child, and inevitably, Goodwill. 
Once I was done putting everything back into drawers, I did feel better. More organized.  Less overwhelmed by piles of laundry in the bedrooms and mudroom.  But, there's still more work to do before I feel like my system is really running on all cylinders. We will be doing a major re-organization of the house over the next couple of months, so once things are in place, I'm sure I will find some extra space I didn't know was there and come up with something that works.  Until then, we are at least keeping the clothes in baskets and not piling them on the floor in front of the washer.  I call that progress.

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