I get asked this question a lot: “I have children growing out of clothes, I know the next child will need these clothes, but should I keep them for ___ years?”
Well, that depends.
If you are a die-hard minimalist and there is nothing in the children’s closet (or at least nothing on the top shelf) then sure- keep the clothes! Box them, label the front with gender, size and season and set them in the top shelf of the closet. That’s the whole benefit to minimalism. You have what you need and it’s organized.
BUT… if you are still in the midst of decluttering and your children’s closets are full and unorganized, I recommend letting go of the hand-me-downs.
Because I’ve been there. I didn’t have room in the kid’s closet. The clothes got placed in the basement- in bags, in boxes, where ever I could put them, just to get them out of the way. And then I forgot about them. When the kids needed new clothes, I never remembered what I had and I’d run out and get what they needed. For one, it was easier than trying to dig out the right box, or open the correct garbage bag. But most of the time- I didn’t even remember what sizes I had, what season they were or anything about them.
We had too much stuff, I wasn’t able to organize it all. Then, of course, I would feel horribly guilty for spending money on clothing that I didn’t actually need to purchase – and I would find the clothes after the kids were already past that size.
So, for the 2nd group, my recommendation is:
Take extra/outgrown/not-in-use clothing to the consignment shop. Use the consignment shop as your “storage”. When your child needs a bigger size, shop with the credit that is there. It’s being responsible, and you don’t have to try to organize more things.
Because, let’s face it: when the whole house is cluttered, organizing isn’t effective. Don’t “should” yourself with this.
In the end, after you’ve rid your home of the excess, giving items like hand-me-downs a place to belong will be easy. Until then, be gracious with yourself and if you don’t get to that “minimalist” state during these years when the kids are growing so fast- that’s ok too.
Make use of the consignment shops to trade in- that’s what they are there for.
Do you have a system for hand-me-downs that works? Let’s talk about it in the comments: