Found this image here; I was too busy sorting to take pictures!
Today was the day.
I must have gone up and down the stairs ten times, each time carrying an empty basket up, and a full basket down. I dumped each load on the living room floor, and by the time I'd visited the kids' rooms, the attic, and the hallway, I'd created two walls as high as my hip, that ran from one side of my living room to the other. Two walls. Built of clothes. Just children's clothes!
I always knew I'd gathered more than I needed, but seeing it like this, realising how much space it has taken up in our house (albeit neatly, in under-bed storage bins and boxes), how much time and energy it's taken to wash, fold, put away, pick up off the floor, dig through for something specific really drove home the fact that things had gotten out of hand.
Figuring out what each of my children would wear each day put me at risk of developing decision fatigue, especially when the clothes I laid out each evening were met with rejection or disdain because of the weather, the itchiness of the fabric, the style of the skirt...whew. More often than not, my daughters' shared bedroom looked as if the drawers had barfed their contents all over the floor, with no rhyme or reason. Dirty socks mingled with formerly folded clean t-shirts, the status of underwear was questionable, and every item had to be individually inspected to ensure that it hadn't been sullied through the day.
One of the problems of keeping clothes in order in Canada is that we have four distinct seasons. They don't end and begin on specific days, and they often overlap so that one day your child needs shorts and sunscreen, and the next is chilly enough for tights and a sweater. The shift from season to season is met with futile attempts to dress your child appropriately for school, so that they often go out the door in rubber boots only to have the temperature soar to 30 degrees Celsius by afternoon. Still, I was going to do my best.
1. First, I carried every article of clothing down into one room.
2. Then I sorted all the clothes into baskets, one per child, while also creating a discard pile for clothes that were stained, faded, torn, too small, or out of season.
3. Next, I scrutinized the contents of each basket carefully, using this guide to help me decide what to keep and what to give away.
I managed to reduce the mountain of clothes into one laundry basket per child! That is a tremendous reduction in clothes (time, energy, clutter)! I carried these three baskets back up the stairs, sorted everything into their dressers, and marveled at the fact that the under-bed storage bins were now completely empty! If you are a mother of many as I am, you'll know the compulsion to set clothes aside for when your children are older. I decided today to let those "too big" clothes go, and am choosing to trust that more wonderful hand-me-downs will find their way to us when the time is right.
I didn't have the stamina or time to tackle the second wall-mountain, consisting of baby clothes up to size 3. But I am bolstered and energized by the growing pile of "donation" garbage bags that are being carried over to the potting shed for storage each day. I filled five bags today, effortlessly. I let go of items I've held onto because I love them (but my children don't).
This task had taken on gigantic proportions in my mind. I felt overwhelmed just thinking about it. But now that I've done it, I am planning other epic purges: of toys, of yarn and fabric, of kitchen glassware and appliances. I am already breathing more easily.
All it took was a plan, and one day.
Special thanks to this blogger for inspiring me with this post, way back when.