Are you ready to truly clean out your child’s closet? Here are some simple tips to teach you how to minimalize your children’s clothing.
How to Minimalize Children’s Clothing
I have a weakness and I’ve had it for the past several years. Even before we started fostering children I began collecting clothing because…well….it’s just so cute!
I don’t think it was until we had a second child that I realized that clothing can pile up so quickly. I found that we had more clothing in our children’s dresser drawers than they were wearing. That’s when I came up with a method of minimalizing their clothing so that we only bought and stored what we really needed.
Today I’m sharing the steps that we’ve taken to reduce the amount of children’s clothing that we own. By reducing your children’s clothing, just like reducing your own clothing, you will:
- Make your children’s clothing choices so much easier in the morning which reduces stress.
- You will have an easier time with laundry. You might not have less to wash but your whole laundry situation will become easier since you have less to deal with.
- Fewer decisions to make. Decision Fatigue is a real thing.
Start with considering the seasons and what your child needs for each one.
In the summer, we need cool play clothes that can get dirty. We have several simple t-shirts and shorts that can all be mix and matched and then 2 nicer shirts and a nice pair of shorts that can be worn to town. I also like to have 5 pairs of pajamas per child per season (warm for winter, cool for summer). I also keep one nice pair of jeans per child all year round. We get a swimsuit as well.
In the winter we usually have several long sleeve shirts and pairs of comfy pants. I also usually add at least one or two more pairs of jeans for wearing to town and church. Each child also has a light and a heavy jacket and a snowsuit. Now that the boys are getting a little bigger and love helping daddy outside, I’ve been trying to find a pair of work overalls (like Carhartts) that they can use outside too.
It’s important to consider your activities when you are reducing your child’s wardrobe:
- Do you go to town frequently?
- Does your child need school clothing?
- What kind of climate do you live in?
Don’t keep out alternative season clothing.
There’s no need to keep your children’s winter coats out when it’s the middle of July. Packing away seasonal clothing will reduce the amount of clothing that they will have in their closet and drawers.
This will also help those of you that have children that are trying to dress themselves independently. If they only have the correct season of clothing in their closet it’s more likely that they will have success in finding the right outfit.
On top of all of those good things, the benefit for me is that when my youngest decides to do a little “re-arranging” of the dresser drawers. There is less of a mess on the bedroom floor to clean up since we have less clothing out.
Do your best to keep the clothing in good condition.
If you see a stain, try and treat it right away. If there is a tear or hole, fix it as soon as you can. If you keep your children’s clothing in good condition you won’t need to buy as much!
I have a hard time keeping up with stains and tears so if you are a busy mom like me, you may also want to consider having “play clothes”. These are sets of clothing that I don’t mind if the boys do a lot of wearing and tearing on. I keep up with the issues that I can with them but I don’t stress if I miss something.
It’s ok to have a few extras.
If you find a great deal on shirts, or if you are gifted some nice clothing, don’t feel like you have to use it right away, but also don’t feel like you need to keep it out in your drawers. You can put a few extra articles of clothing that you don’t need right now away in a box in the closet. This way you can easily pull them out when you need to replace an item.
I like to have extras, especially of my oldest son’s clothing. I know that he will inevitably ruin some of his clothing and not be able to pass it down to his little brother. If I have an extra few items I know we will have them if we need them for him. If not, I can use them to replace the items that are unusable when he’s done with them.
Consider organizing the clothing in sets.
If you really want to simplify your children’s clothing, place the items together in sets so that you or your child can easily grab out an outfit.
To do this you can either place the items on top of each other into sets in the drawers or just fold them into each other. This way that you can grab them in one little “package” when you pull them out of the drawers. If you tend to hang more clothing, fold the bottoms on the hanger, and then hang the shirt around it so that you create a set.
Pick an amount of clothing to base the wardrobe off of.
If you are a numbers person or you work better from a list, here’s a good place to start:
- 7 shirts
- 7 bottoms
- 5 sets of pajamas
- 1 jacket
- 1 nice outfit
Of course, this is the minimal amount I would recommend and you may need more based on your activities. You will also need different sets of clothing per season and add in your seasonal needs (swimsuits/snowsuits).
You may be looking at this list and think that I’m crazy or that it would never work but we’ve been following this method for well over 3 years now. I can assure you that as long as you tailor it to your needs, your children really don’t need any more clothes than what is on this list.
Minimalist clothing makes it SO easy to plan ahead.
Are you like me and love to stock up on the next size up when you find great deals at rummage sales or on clearance? Having a particular number of clothes per child per season makes it incredibly easy to buy what you need in advance.
I keep bigger sizes of clothes in a tote in my closet so that I can easily pull them out when the kids need them. By going off of the simple list that I’ve outlined above, I know that my kids will have what they need when they get to that size.
Keep a little notebook in your purse with the needs and sizes and then you can simply cross them off when you find them. This way you know exactly what you still need.
Don’t forget to pare down shoes and underclothes.
As you are going through your children’s clothing, don’t forget to consider their shoes and underclothes. We are still in the potty training/learning stage so I don’t have great advice yet on the number of undergarments but we do try and keep around 10 pairs of socks per child for the winter.
As far as shoes go, each of my children has 3 pairs (as do I!). One pair of good sandals, one pair of good tennis shoes or daily shoes (my oldest son wears more of a boot because of his walking issues), and a pair of mud boots. Little shoes can add up to a big mess very fast and owning just 3 pairs a piece makes getting out the door SO much easier. We keep these organized on a shelf outside of our back door so that when they are finished wearing them they can get cleaned up and dried out if need be so that they will last longer.
— Have little feet that get dirty often, consider making an Outdoor Foot Washing Station.
Since they go through shoes so quickly when they are young, this method has worked well. We’ve been able to pass down the shoes from the oldest to the youngest and they are still in fairly good condition. Even after being used for 2 children.
If you need to add clothing to your children’s wardrobe or want to sell the extras that you have after you minimalize children’s clothing, check out either Thred Up or Swap.com. You can read all about my experiences with buying a quality used clothing with these places in my article on Buying Used Clothing Online.
Minimalizing your child’s wardrobe can help you save time, stress, and even strain on your budget. I hope that you find all these tips useful and that you too will be able to successfully clean out your children’s clothing.
If you are looking to simplify your life even further, you may want to check my eWorkbook, 31 Days to Simpler Living! In it, you will find 79 pages of daily challenges, info and advice, and printable worksheets and checklists to keep you on track along your journey.
Ready to clean out other areas of your home? Here are some articles you may enjoy.
Steps Towards Building a Minimalist Wardrobe
Maintaining a Minimalistic Wardrobe
Frugality vs Minimalism (And Why They Don’t Need to Fight)
How to Declutter Sentimental Items Successfully
How to Downsize Books and Simplify Your Collection
How to Organize and Downsize Toys, Games, and Movies
Simple Ways to Declutter and Organize the Bathroom
Do you think you can minimalize your children’s wardrobe? Do you think it would be helpful for your family?
This post on How to Minimalize Children’s Clothing was originally published on Little House Living in August 2016. It has been updated as of August 2019.