I’m heading quickly into summer-mode, but in a last-ditch effort to make some improvements and keep our home manageable, I’m conducting an Experiment of Drastic Measures.
I’m boxing up all but one week’s worth of clothing.
I’ve been thinking lately that I needed to box up all of our school uniforms for the summer. Why? Because I have two little boys who could not care any less what they wear. They would put on a dress shirt and football pants and walk right out the door without a second thought.
In an effort to keep the uniforms in good condition, I thought it would be best for them to be stored away, where they can’t be grabbed thoughtlessly and worn on a day when mud-fights and floor-sliding might be the activities of choice.
As I planned to do this, a new idea began to take shape. What if . . . I boxed up everything but one week’s worth of clothing? Since I now have a successful Laundry Day thing going, I think it can be done. I’ve purged clothing multiple times throughout my deslobification process, but we still have way too much.
I decided that for the boys, I would put away everything but 8 shorts-and-t-shirts outfits. There are 7 days in the week, but since they’re kids, and anything can happen, I thought there should be one spare, hopefully to prevent needing an additional laundry session. I also kept out 4 church outfits.
For my daughter, I approached things a little differently. She does care about what she wears, and I can respect that. A girl has to have a few choices, right? For her I put away everything but 7 shorts-and-t-shirts outfits, 3 cutesy casual outfits, and 4 sundresses. She’ll have options according to her mood, but not the mass of clothing that she normally has to sift through in the drawers. And of course, she has 5 or so church dresses.
I filled one and a half totes with the extra clothes. I think it was easier because I wasn’t actually getting rid of things, just storing them. I have the safety-net of knowing that I can always go dig in the totes if this experiment is a total failure.
I also made a “Cousin’s Camp” pile of clothing. The kids spend a week at the lake in the summer and so anything that looked like “lake clothes” is already in a bag. I didn’t actually pack yet, since it’s several weeks away, but I’ll have those clothes in one place. Also, since our family vacation will begin immediately after Cousin’s Camp, I don’t want to have to do laundry between the two. This way, their camp wardrobe and their normal wardrobe are two separate things. Make sense?
I was amazed at how little time this took to do. I pulled everything out of their drawers, and made piles of shorts, shirts, etc. I then matched up outfits and chose my favorite 8. I did decide to get rid of quite a few things because I didn’t like them enough to store them.
Since it’s Thursday, and I did laundry on Monday, there are a few things that I know we’ll want to keep that weren’t in their drawers. I’m planning to use my newly-grasped one-for-one-trade concept and remove one thing for each item we decide to keep.
Like I said, I’m viewing this as an experiment. Although I’ve come a long way since starting my blog, I’m not ready to completely get rid of most of our clothes. This is my attempt to apply the concept of imposing limitations/defining boundaries to our clothing. I think it will work, but I honestly don’t know for sure.
I’ll keep you posted.
And yes, the glaring omission in this post is my own clothing. I’m trying to wrap my mind around it, but every time I look in my closet, I get completely overwhelmed. I wanted to get it done pre-summer for the kids so that when they help with laundry, they’ll be able to easily put their own clothes away. I was amazed at how little drawer space was needed when I eliminated all but a week’s worth of clothing. The boys’ clothes fit easily in two drawers, no shoving needed.
My goal is to test my “must have more than we need” mindset. I know that collecting excesses of stuff, including clothing, hasn’t worked . . . as it got our home to where it was pre-blog. Taking drastic measures might just work, or at the very least, it will help me discover a happy medium.
Lenetta @ Nettacow says
Dun dun dun! GASP! (Sorry, I couldn't help it. :>)) What a super idea!! Am interested to hear how it comes out.
I just did the summer switchover for my little one and it wasn't bad at all. It's hard to know when to do it, though – there were times when she didn't have anything cool enough to wear (few pairs of shorts that were out were dirty) and then the next day would send me digging for her winter coat. I love Nebraska…
We have consecrated men and women that work with the order of priests that run our school. They wear laypeoples clothing but only have 7 outfits that are provided to them. They get switched out as they wear, go out of style, change season, etc. It keeps their life very simple and I have thought about doing it myself. Even if I cut doen to 30 full outfits, that is probably less than what is in my closet! I certainly don't go shopping to just shop anymore. If we don't need it, I don't buy it.
I don't know that I could go down to 7-8 outfits but then I'm not a kid anymore!
Until a few years ago my closet and dressers were overflowing to the point that I couldn't even put everything away, no matter how much I tried cramming it in. Honestly I hate getting rid of clothes. You never know when something might come in handy! And yes we're talking about seasonal clothing that was switched and stored. One way that helped me to tame the closet was to reverse the hangers as I wore something. That makes it a bit easier to see the things that never get worn. If you can take 5 mins. and go put the hangers in backwards it goes easier after that. Dressers I did one drawer at a time and it took maybe 5 mins. a drawer.
Now to keep a hand on it I honestly look at everything as I switch seasons. Something I packed away at the end of summer last year may not make the cut this summer.
You just have to break it down into small tasks. Don't look at the whole thing and be overwhelmed.
Nony, now it is my turn to not understand what you are talking about. Your kids actually own more than 7-8 outfits? Even my daughter only has about 10 outfits per season plus exactly 4 "church" outfits. I don't have many more outfits than the kids. I've never been a clotheshorse, and I guess that is why I've been able to keep laundry/closets/dresser drawers organized. We don't have that many clothes. Old clothes are always donated or thrown out when new clothes are purchased! I'm saying this to encourage you. You CAN live on the basics. I've done it for years. Didn't know there was another way to do it. I know how thrifty you are, so I guess you got all the extra clothes at garage sales? Anyway, keep up the good work! I'm proud of you!
My grandson has more clothes to hrie into than I own, which is a Lot, because if hand-me-downs. All in wonderful condition but lots of cousins on Dad’s side giving them. And until the little fella is big enough to know which side will fit in which season, all are boxed.
Not always just buying that overdoes it. Guessing Nony may have the same.
Having said that, I can sometimes/in certain frame of mind ask the question ” is someone out there looking for a coat/shirt/skirt like this if I not loving it now.
This sounds like a wonderful idea.
I'm always overwhelmed by the amount of clothing my little has (thanks to her grandmothers!) but notice I put her in the same outfits over and over. Now that we're back and I'm ready to get a handle on things I'm absolutely going to try this out for us too.
Lenetta @ Nettacow says
I linked to this on my weekly roundup – and I forgot to mention that your blog frog pic is absolutely darling! :>)
Nony (A Slob Comes Clean) says
Thanks . . . and thanks!
I am always fantasizing about Star Trek the Next Generation or -I just watched “Monk” for the first time- any type of uniform that always matches and I would just have 7 of them. No buying-yoga-pants-but-only-have-dress-shoes or buying-new-sneakers-but-only-have-casual-dress-clothes problems. Since about 3rd child I just find something I feel comfortable in and buy 4 of the top and 4 of the bottom then get rid of everthing else except tank tops- which are always handy. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to dress in cute creative clothing, but I know there are some things I have to give up so I can focus on taking care of the family (barely). I also have 2 pair of shoes- not counting CHEAP flip flops and yard tennis shoes- black boring shoes and clean sneakers. It probably helps that I never have to dress up for anything (like church) and live in the Pacific Northwest where a girl can sometimes mourn a little for a black tie occasion.
Nony, I have 4 girls and keeping a handle on their clothes is-Impossible!!! The cuteness gets me every time and they are all fashion bugs who change 3 or 4 times a day. Also, we have a collective obsession with pajamas, I think the kids might have 40 or 50 sets between them!
Vanderbilt Wife says
We are moving this summer, but don’t know exactly when. (Long story. We live at a school.) I am so going ahead and boxing up a lot of my kids’ clothes!! What a great idea. (AND mine.)
I need to figure out a way to do this for 7 children. I have myself paired down to only what I actually wear, but the kids are harder. Like another commenter said, I also have 4 girls (and three boys) and some of the girls are almost teens. They aren’t gonna let me near their closets! Though we have agreed that they do their own laundry. My 5 year old girl is my fashion model who changes 8 times a day. And the little boys don’t wear much more than a pair of shorts all summer…
And then there are the blankets…. do you have an article on blankets for a family of 9, per chance?
I have you smile at you wonderful Americans 🙂 I am in South Africa, by the way. I love you all – but Oh My Word!! I’m thinking 7 outfits good – thats what we we have more or less though thinking of cutting down to five – then I read that thats only for the boys – more for the girls – okay thats a lot, then gasp! – plus 4 church outfits! wow! How often do you guys have church? Boggles the mind to imagine how much clothing you usually have 🙂 Hope you enjoy things being simpler, I often feel like we have excess compared to so many in our country. Our children grow so fast, they don’t ever need more than seven or eight outfits total 🙂 Anyway – love your blog – inspiring, thanks!
I collected some baby clothes they were hand me downs all in great condition. I got two totes and a kitchen garbage bag, and small box all full of clothes and there were less than five outfits over 6 months. because the babies where still in them. I think I found two things that were stained she had a 3 year old and nine month old twins she hadn’t bought hardly any of it she just happened to be very “loved” at her baby showers they were all boys and she had not gotten around to getting rid of anything by the time she got pregnant. I paired it down to the styles I like I got rid of anything I wouldn’t be willing to put on a girl since I don’t know what I am having. I only kept my absolute favorites nothing even dingy or out dated then I went back through it and made sure I really, really loved it until I got down to one tote. I probably have twice what I need maybe just maybe ten times. but I will wait till baby gets here to figure out how much is needed they do need there clothes changed more often usually. I am purposely keeping my under one year old clothes 90%+ gender neutral grandmas will buy dresses they can’t help themselves. for a child to go through four or more complete wardrobe changes in one year and then not keep them for the kid that you have two years later absolute silliness I have seen people get as much clothes as that friend and then two years later someone showers her with a pile just as big of pink and purple cause now its a girl. I have so many better things to spend money on than clothes. if people want to keep giving gifts they can help me with something I need.
Heather M says
I am currently making my way through your blog… Hi, I’m Heather. And I’m a slob. I would be very interested to see how you accomplished this task for your own closet. I am a household of one, so it’s only my crap that seems to have completely cluttered up a 950 sq. ft. apt!! Yes, I have a crafting corner. Yes, I love kitchen stuff. Yes, I have a bag problem. And yes, I love clothes. Sooo… other than the year-long hanger-turn-around method, what is a good way? I also have a legit shopping problem, so I buy stuff then I hate it too soon after. I go through my closets periodically when I need money to see what I can sell on eBay. But I STILL have WAAAAAY more than one person could wear in probably 6 months. I know it’s a little different because I’m a girl AND I work (though I only occasionally need more business-like attire; though I LOVE dresses and buy them but rarely wear them 🙁 ). I’m trying to get my spending/shopping under control, but I also need to get my clutter under control (I’m just an all-around mess 😛 ) If you’ve already done this and posted (I know this post is 4 years old), please update it with a link!
Dana White says
I’m trying to think of a post for this, but I do struggle with my own wardrobe for sure!
The best advice would be to start a weekly Laundry Day. That really changed my perspective on which clothes I truly love (because I can actually wear them when they’re clean!) and on how many clothes I actually needed. http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/2012/12/my-laundry-metamorphosis/
Linda W says
With me, it seems that the spending and the clutter were related. Now, I think things over before spending money on something that I have too much of already. I’m still a slob, but getting much better than what I was before. For some odd reason, when I watch the hoarding TV shows, I start cleaning and de-cluttering. Maybe this motivates me out of fear that I could become one of them.
Linda, me too! I miss watching Niecy Nash on Clean House!!!
This reminds me of Project 333. It’s a website encouraging people to choose 33 clothing items to wear for 3 months and box up (or donate) the rest. I’ve been doing this now for over a year, and it is definitely doable when laundry is under control. After losing weight recently, I now have only 2 pair of pants that fit. Since I do laundry every day, this works fine, though it would be nice to have at least one more pair for variety or emergency. I find that having fewer decisions to make each day works better for me.
Thanks for all the encouragement! Keep up the great work, Dana!
I don’t have kids, but my clothes need a good purge.
What happened? Did it work? You left me hanging here! 😉
I LOVE this strategy! It’s just like having your kids keep their favorite things – you just pull out your favorite week’s worth of clothes and box up the rest. 30 days later you just donate the box. Boom. Instant closet clean out.
Luz Maria says
Hmmm. This is interesting. Recently, after washing, drying and putting my clothes away; I noticed that the following day when I got dressed, I reached for items which I had just washed. Then, I began to reflect on how I ALWAYS, wear and wash the same items over and over. So, I’m going to try and experiment. It’ll be drastic in theory but allow me a safety net. I’m going to go through my clothes and gather 3 weeks worth of clothes. That will include everyday clothes, business casual for work, and dressy; as well as undergarments. Those will stay in my closet. The rest will be put away in my empty closet in my spare room. I’ll see how I get by. After those three weeks I’m thinking I should be able to bless a local woman’s shelter with the rest of my clothes.
Teresa mentioned Niecy Nash on Clean House! I loved watching that show featuring Niecy and her crew—Trish, Matt, and Mark! That show was so entertaining. Wish it were still on.
In 2019, I had the opportunity to do this for myself. After 3 weeks in ICU for a traumatic brain injury, my husband and I would be taking a medical flight 1000 miles away to a TBI rehab facility. The little Lear jet had a definite weight limit and the amount of medical equipment, personnel, and their gear for 2 weeks of flights gets priority. I went home for a couple of hours to pack: 1 pr jeans, 1 pr pants, 1 pr shorts, 3 T’s, 3 cotton knit tops, I pr hiking shoes, 1 pr supportive sandals, 4 bras, 6 unders, 3 pr socks. (I wore my fuzzy wrap suitable for chilly hospitals and jets.) For my husband: his walking shoes, 1 pr slippers, 3 T shirts, 2 pr sweat pants, 6 pr unders, 5 pr socks, ball cap and sun glasses and electric razor (almost forgot it!). Everything I took fit into a backpack. His fit into a duffle with room to spare. His sister bought him a thick hoodie and I bought him a couple more t’s and athletic shorts for PT as he regained better temperature control.
We had access to laundry facilities and I did not need to add anything to my wardrobe for the 4 months we were there. He is living his normal life again, for which we are so thankful, and give God the glory for sustaining us through the whole 18 months of recovery and rehabilitation. We learned a lot about living within limits–both restrictions for his safety and recognizing we just didn’t need a lot of other things.
The real life-saver as time went on was the local public library!! (I almost never travel without several books and of course there was no room for that!) The hospital had a small library but no large print when he started reading again. The public library offered resident cards to families staying in the hospital’s family housing!! We were so thankful.
Now we can pack for a 10 day vacation with a single duffel bag and backpack (for hiking.)