Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cleaning and Decluttering For Baby's Arrival

Anneliese, a few hours old. NOT the new baby
(who hasn't been born yet)! This is just illustrative.
My husband and I have been cleaning the house, and especially our bedroom the past few days. Reason being? Nesting instinct, I guess, because it definitely needs to be done before the baby is born.
Our home is small and has no built in closets or storage spaces whatsoever (other than kitchen cupboards). Because of that, our room has sort of become the "storage room" of our small home, with bags of clothing that we aren't currently using being stored high up, above the shelves that house our clothes, under the bed, in the corners under cupboards, etc... It's crazy, I know, and if we actually had the means of storing clothes somewhere else instead of our bedroom, I'd vastly prefer that, but unfortunately it is what it is, and our room is the de-facto storage facility...

Mike and I spent our entire Sunday finding every bag, going through them, sorting them out, and finding what was in each bag. Silly me, when I put them away, I didn't label them clearly as to what was in them, nor did I put them away in any sort of order, so it was definitely difficult to figure out where the newborn clothes were. But eventually, we did find them. And found lots of clothes that I am going to pass on to my sister for her kids.

I've mentioned in the past how decluttering ends up saving money. You'd think that storing things long term, like clothes from one kid to the next, so that you don't need to buy them in the future, is frugal. But in our case, not so much. We are limited in how much space we have, especially due to the lack of storage facilities here. We pay very little for our rent, and if we needed a bigger place to store all our "junk" and stuff that we'd need to hold on to for a few years, we'd be paying more in increased rent each month than it would cost us to simply acquire new things.

For this reason, when it comes to kids' clothes, I put a 2 year limit on storage. Lee and Ike, though they are two years apart in age, aren't exactly 2 years apart size wise- usually Lee outgrows things, and then they go straight to Ike- I don't need to put them away between their wearing them. Though if Ike were not so tall, I would put away Lee's clothes for the "two years" until Ike started wearing them.
But after Ike outgrows something, I just give them to my sister for her 3 year old son.
Because my next child, 2 years younger than Ike, is a girl. And Anneliese won't be wearing Ike's hand me downs (aside for the occasional unisex thing, which I do keep for her), and then there's another 2+ year gap before there will be another child, who may or may not end up needing the size 4T clothing that Ike is outgrowing. And that is assuming that this next child is a boy. If its a girl, then there'd be at least another 5 or 6 years before someone else would be wearing Ike's old clothes. Or more than that, even...
I see no point in holding on to clothes for years and years, with the possibility that maybe, maybe 4-6 years or more down the line, I might have a kid to wear the clothes.
Anneliese's clothes, though, I do keep after she outgrows them- because 2 years is my limit, and she is just wearing size 2T clothes now.
I keep a years supply of both boys' and girls' baby clothes- from 0-3 to 9-12 month size clothing, because that has the highest likelihood of getting used the soonest, so it's not just taking up space and never getting used, the same way my boys' hand me downs are.

So the decluttering was definitely frugal.
I filled 4 garbage bags of stuff to give to my sister.
And also filled 3 garbage bags of just garbage that was in my room. Some wasn't originally garbage, but it was projects that have been sitting around for over a year or more, that I never was touching and wasn't likely to finish any time in the near future. Again, taking up valuable room. So I tossed it. (This was mostly repurposed sewing projects made with recycled stuff, so it didn't cost me much money to get them.)

And because I found stuff I forgot I had, like clothes the next size up for Lee and Anneliese that I got as hand me downs or rescued from near the dumpster (people who don't want to go to the second hand store to make donations often leave big bags of clothing near the dumpster for people to take), and now I labeled them and put them in a place where I'll be able to find them easily enough, when my kids outgrow the size clothes they are currently wearing, I won't need to visit the second hand store to get clothes for them.

I also found my newborn sized cloth diapers and now will be able to use them when the baby is born.

My biggest lesson in all this really is that it is very important for me to sort and label stuff, and keep them in places I can find easily. I see there are stuff that I have that I never ended up using for my kids and they've already outgrown them, simply because the clothes weren't organized well enough. So from now on, I will try to keep it better organized. It doesn't save money to have something... if you forget you have it or where it is stored.

How do you store your kids' outgrown clothes? What is your thoughts on what to keep and what to give away? Do you consider decluttering to be a frugal move, or not so much? 


  1. Awesome topic - since I'm in the middle of the "season" swap around here. I have 4 boys, so I do save things longer, because I know they will get worn - especially dress clothes, which don't wear out because they aren't worn often. Years ago, I purchased some large plastic tubs with lids that can stack. We also have a very small storage space for things like this. I put the same size/season in a bin of its own and label it very clearly on the outside, and stack it in the storage space. When someone is ready for the next size, we "shop" in the storage closet first. When I swap their winter and summer clothes (I don't have dresser space for everything), I sort through what can't be saved (donate) and what my youngest has outgrown (donate) and purge that way. Also, there are 4 years between my 2nd son and 3rd son (two between the first two and two between the last two), but I have a nephew who is exactly halfway between them, so anything I didn't want to store, I gave to my nephew and my sister would pass back to me when he was done and by 3rd was ready for that size.

  2. I have 6 boys so I know I always have someone to pass down clothes to. That said I have been trying to sort through them and weed out any stained clothes before I store them. And when they do go into a size I go through them again and keep only what comfortably fits into drawers (we have been given a lot of hand me downs on top of what we have). It is always so tempting to hang onto clothes but the reality is that they may not survive long term storage and people give out hand me downs regularly and it probably wouldn't be hard to get more later as required.

    Our kids' clothes are stored in large storage bags or empty nappy boxes labelled by size and placed on the top shelf of a built in wardrobe in one of the kid bedrooms.

    I don't pay for a bigger house for storage as such but I understand where you are coming from with that. Houses definitely cost more and are more in demand when they have more storage available.

  3. Awesome! So is your bedroom more comfortable now? Or does it feel basically the same except that things are easier to find now?

    The only people who outgrow their clothes in my house are grown-ups. Not frugal at all!

    But for kids' clothes, especially girls' clothes, it's usually pretty easy to find stuff cheaply (at garage sales, etc.). I've heard that shoes and that boys' pants are tougher--whatever's harder to find, I might save longer (although having a sister to pass things off to is pretty nice, too).

    I am saving some stuff in my old size (and also getting closer) because my old size is very hard to find. I only keep the stuff I really love though and that's a classic style.

    I do think that organizing is the key to happy domesticity. There's no point in having stuff if you don't know where it is or if you can't get to it (or really just don't want to bother). And for things you're using, it's awesome if there is a nice, accessible place to put them so that you don't have to hate putting them away. A common question around here is "should that be in prime real estate?"

  4. Our home is also smaller than what folks might expect for our family (10 people in 1500 sq. ft.) so we keep a tight reign on what stays in the house. I actually don't keep baby clothes. No joke. I also pass them on and have found that others always come back in their place. The kiddos closest in age just get hand-me-downs as their older sibling outgrows them, and after that, they're usually shot anyhow so again, no storage needed!

  5. I didn't save clothes for "the next kid" because I had a son, then a daughter. then got a divorce...thought I was done having kids. Got re-married and had a son (11 years after the first son!)

    I do however buy all my clothing for the entire family second hand, gratefully accept hand me downs, my mil gives me bags of stuff she orders for herself and it doesnt fit etc. :)

    I also try to think forward and am always on the look out for the next season, next size for the currently growing child when I am at a thrift store shopping for clothes.

    Boys clothing....especially pants (in good condition) are the hardest to find!!!

  6. Random tip--empty comforter bags are great for storing clothes. You know, the big clear ones with the zips. I had some of my own and got from a friend who just bought comforters. They're a great size (fit nicely under beds!) and are durable.

  7. We were "one and done" and then had our second boy 6 years after the first. So when everyone said how great it was to have the clothes, I said "not only did we not save the clothes, I got pregnant one month after giving away the crib!"

    needless to say, I don't save clothes. I pass them on, and get other stuff back. My older son is hard on clothes anyway - nothing to pass on really.

  8. We are saving our kidlet's clothes, because we're planning to have our second when he's 4-5. I figure that it won't really matter if the second is a boy or a girl; it's not like the child cares whether they're wearing pink or not. I'm not sure if the elastic of the cloth diapers will last that long in storage, though, but we'll see. I did have the foresight to sort all of his clothes by size, and although I would like some nice neat boxes to keep the clothes in, having them presorted by size is good enough for me.

    We are in the middle of our yearly decluttering. Because my husband is the one who takes the stuff to the dump/thrift stores, we can only do one small area at a time. I already tackled my closet and the random-stuff closet; we'll be doing the kidlet's closet (which is really glorified storage, since I keep everything he uses in his changing station) and my husband's closet this week. My rule is, if I haven't touched the stuff in a year or two, out it goes. There are a few exceptions--my birding gear, my husband's tools, and things that the kidlet has yet to grow into. I don't know if it actually saves money, but it does make us feel a lot better when things have places to go back to.

  9. I save clothes. 4 boys with 2.5 years or less between each...so far so good. I've had to replace a few items in some of the LARGER sizes, as I've found my boys are harder on their trousers (pants) as they get older. Also my 2nd is small and often wears something several seasons/years in a row. (He was in 3T for two summers and 4T for two summers.) So it's almost as though the clothes have already been through 3 kids... As my youngest has been outgrowing things I've been trying to weed out. In newborn I now have only 8 items, though as the sizes go up I find it harder to part with things. Or maybe I just have more favourite outfits? Nonetheless I've also given away about 3 garbage bags' worth of stuff in the last year. As for storage, my boys share rooms (two in each) and they each have closets. The top shelves that we can't reach are the storage shelves; the lower shelves and drawers that are within reach are the clothes they are actually wearing.


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