Organizing with Kids: Handling Hand-Me-Downs
“Do your kids get hand-me-downs from friends or family? If so, sort and purge right away. Keep only those items your child will use or wear.” ~Aby Garvey
That’s a snippet of advice that Aby offers in her Organizing with Your Kids online workshop. It sounds so simple, I know, but it’s one of those things that rocked my organizing world! I honestly had never even considered this. Purging clothes that might possibly be worn at some point in time by some member of my family? Preposterous!
Since my children were born, I have wrestled with large bags of hand-me-downs, storage tubs, and overstuffed closets and drawers. We are so fortunate to have such an overabundance of clothing, I know, particularly since most of it comes to us second-hand. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an article of clothing for the girls, immediately disliked it or knew that neither daughter could/would wear it. Would I purge it? No. I would stuff it in with the other things…just in case.
Recently, I discovered why I do this. I was talking with my mom about her frustrations with a small clothes closet. She commented that she ought to just get rid of the majority of her clothes because she doesn’t wear them.
Then she said, “No, I’m kidding. Of course I wouldn’t do that.”
I said, “No? Why not?”
She thought for a moment before realizing she doesn’t actually know why. It simply feels wrong to her to get rid of perfectly good clothes. Maybe you’ve been there, too. I know I have.
This simple conversation was such a light bulb moment for me! My holding on to hand-me-downs (and other things for that matter) is how I was raised! It makes so much sense when I think about it, too. My parents were born at the tail end of the Great Depression, and that experience shaped them. They would regularly wear clothing and shoes that didn’t fit, much less feel comfortable or reflect their personal style. They had large families, and clothing items were passed along, mended and repurposed until they literally became rags.
But my family is very fortunate, because those are not the circumstances we are living with. Aby’s advice from the workshop, along with the understanding of why I’ve held on to clothes that we won’t wear, has had a terrific impact.
First, I have become more realistic about what will or will not be worn by the children, my husband, or even me!
Second, I have freed myself from the feeling that it’s wrong to get rid of good clothes. Instead, I’ve realized quite the opposite. Just because we won’t or can’t wear something doesn’t mean someone else won’t. I have always sought out other children to hand down to, participated in clothing swaps, and donated to charitable organizations. But now, clothes that are really just clutter in our home move on to find a new happy home sooner rather than later.
Third, it’s great to create breathing room in the closets and drawers. I love the discovery that I didn’t actually need more storage in the kids’ rooms. I just needed less clothing clutter!
How about you? Do you have kids’ clothing clutter or clothing clutter of your own? Have you held onto things in the past, simply because it felt wrong to let them go? How do you feel about reconsidering this belief? We’d love to hear from you.
P.S. Now is a great time to purge clothes as you get ready for summer. Speaking of which, if you have questions about getting organized for your summer, there’s still time to post your question to Aby for this blog series!