Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hand-me-down Mahem

It's backwards day and just in time!

We are so blessed to have many people think of us when it comes to hand-me-downs. My husband is a private school teacher so there is quite the exchange going on over there between the staff. My mother in law purchases children's clothing from her co-workers for the kids. And my sisters and I are constantly passing back and forth all kinds of things. These clothes are barely worn and are usually even in style! It really is such a relief to not to run out shopping every time someone grows around here.

However, I am not mananging it well at all! I can barely get my own laundry done and off the couch let alone handle another box full of clothes to sort through. Currently these boxes and bags (people must be purging right now) are in my bedroom glaring at me to take care of them.

What do you do to manage to flow of clothes coming in and out of your homes? I need a workable system here that won't take over my life and space. What system do you have in place? Because I have none at all. Help!


Sarah said...

I only have two kids but we get a lot of hand me downs too. It's a blessing, as I never really have to buy my kids clothes, but it can be a lot of work. I sort them as soon as they come through the door. I only keep things that I would buy, are in perfect condition and are not too far off and donate the rest. I sort them by size and keep them in labeled bins.

My mother in law often picks things up at thrift stores for my son that probably wont fit till he's 7 (he's 3). I've asked her not to do this. I've also told a few people who often send over hand me downs that are not my style or in fantastic condition that I appreciate them thinking of us, but we have plenty (the truth).

Good luck!

Christine said...

We have plastic storage containers that (right now) are kept in our attic. We've also utilized the garage. On the outside of each box is a piece of tape with the gender and size. For instance, "Girl 10-12." I've even had so many given to us that at times I'll have a "fall" and "spring" container for one size.

When clothes come in, I sort them, then go put them in the appropriate bin. When the kids are outgrowing a size, we go grab the bin. THAT is when we wash them. Keeping the "put them away" process simple helps me to actually get it done!

If a child is sort of wearing a new size, but some things are still too big, I'll keep that bin in their closet until we have pulled out everything.

Edi said...

I usually keep a box next to the dryer in the laundry room. That is for clothes etc. that the kids have outgrown and I am planning to donate. When that box gets filled I bring out another one and stack them on top or if I'm not so lazy - I make sure I record all the contents (tax deduction!) and then move them to shelves in the garage.

At least once a month I get a phone call from a charity that they will have a truck in our area if I have any donations. I almost always do.

Clothes for next season or that are too large - usually get packed into boxes and placed on the top shelf of the kids' rooms.

I only have 2 kids so that's a lot easier amount to manage.

If space is really limited - you may need to see if the cost of holding onto too big clothes vs the space issue, is worth it.

Anonymous said...

I think that working on them when you first get them is the best option that works for us. Sort out what you like and put the rest back in the bag and into your van to donate to someone else. Then sort out into size labeled bins or into the laundry basket if they fit someone now.

I think the best advice on the matter was given to me by my aunt when she said, "Just because someone gives it to you doesn't mean you have to keep it." So if you end up with lots that your family just doesn't care for...pass it on, don't stress about it :)

Anyway that's what we do and we have 6 kids and it seems to be working.


Cindy said...

I try to go through bags within a day or two from when I get them.

I do a quick sorting. If I immediately think it will be cute or needed or helpful, I put it in one pile. If it isn't something I really want, I put it in another. I throw the "keeps" in the wash and pass them to their new owners.

The others (if I can't think of someone who might be able to use them) I keep in a bin in my closet (it is actually a tall trashcan) and when it is full, we take it to Goodwill or to a ministry.

Laura's advice was good for me to hear a few years ago as well.

And I've stopped keeping things for "someday" unless I LOVE it...God has always provided, so I trust that when "someday" comes, there will be bag of things coming my way and I don't need to keep things NOW for LATER that someone else may be able to use NOW. Make any sense? :)

SAHMmy Says said...

My sister is a minister's wife and is very blessed to receive handmedown clothing for her three (soon to be four!) little ones just about every Sunday! She has a very small house with limited storage but makes good use of plastic lidded bins she can stack in her basement for clothes she's waiting for the kids to grow into. When she feels she has more than enough for now, she picks out a few outfits she loves then passes on the rest to a friend who has a need. Sometimes when she is overwhelmed by all the generous gifts she'll simply take the items straight to Goodwill on the way home from church.

eally said...

I cleaned out Dakota's drawers/closet this week too and he has outgrown so much stuff! It is all still sitting in a pile on his bedroom floor because I don't have a clue what to do with it!
Come on over to my blog...I tagged you!!

Kathy Days said...

I totally know what you mean about everything you said. It's like just when I feel like I have myself organized, another bag-full comes in!

I just break mine down to warm weather and cold weather clothes, and put them away in tubs until that season arrives. Not the best system, but it's pretty simple.

Good luck, and thanks for your laundry tip on my blog!

Mich said...

I only have one munchkin, but I am over run with hand me downs. It's a huge blessing, but also a task.

I sort through them ASAP. I try to make "outfits" as I go through them, so I can see what we'll really use.

I do sort by size and season. Right now we are hanging to smaller stuff--either to use again or pass on around the family tree.

I keep one box to collect what she's outgrown, and one box out with stuff she's likely to grow into. Everything else is in the garage.

It's crazy, but they'll stop growing one day, right??

Meg said...

I sort when they come in, too, and then put in bins in the attic according to season and size. I still have to get them down frequently and try on a few things...sometimes if I hadn't, the kids would have grown out of them before I pulled them down! (They grow taller quicker than I think they will!) It's good for me to remind myself on my calendar every three months or so to go through them again.

Monica said...

We use the same system of clearly labeled bins like the previous commenters. It is much easier to get to it right away and I have learned not to keep it all! We have been very blessed and saved so much on clothes by keeping, storing and constantly (it seems) sorting and reorganizing clothes. It has just become a way of life. We store the bins in the attic and usually re-evaluate at the change of seasons and of course when a new little one comes along. Another thing I have started doing with the younger ones is having sets or outfits and not bits and pieces. I have found that you can end up with lots of pieces with hand me downs and they just don't get utilized. If I come across a nice pair of pants or say a jumper dress I want to keep, but is not a complete outfit I make a note of what is needed to complete it and make a point to pick it up at the thrift store or Goodwill. This makes dressing the little ones and processing their laundry easier for everyone.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

We do the same thing with the bins. Little D is only 1 year old (almost) and I have bins labeled: 18 month, 2 T, 3 T, and even some 4 and 5 now.

I do what the other gals said, keep what looks like it is in good shape and I like and pass on what I don't.

We keep the bins in the attic and get what we need when we need it. Typically there is a bin for each kid in their closet so as they outgrow what they are wearing, they can put it in there. When they have started to clearly leave that size, I put the clothes in, put the bin away and get the next one.

Some of the 3T and 4T, etc have needed 2 bins (fall/winter; spring/summer) because the clothes have gotten bigger.

I keep all coats/jackets in a seperate bin that I can pull out each season to get what we need.

Istn' God's provision amazing? He has used so many people in my life to bless us this way!

Marni said...

We have eight. I use empty copy paper boxes because my husband can snag them at work for free. All that everyone said was what I would have said to attempt. Just wanted to add that I have estabished with my husband that he is not to bring home bags of clothes from people without my permission. My own friends have learned over time to ASK me if I want a bag of clothes. If I know I don't have time to go through it, even if I think I might need some of the clothes, I decline. Otherwise it will sit somewhere in the way forever and I don't need that.

Peter & Becky Bowersox said...

We went from being a couple to being parents of 3 instantly last year. I spent 10 hours last week sorting mounds of hand me downs. I really needed this post!! Thanks!