Friday, May 23, 2014

Tips For Hand Me Downs

The Lord has always blessed us with hand-me-downs.  And our girlies think it's cool.  If I'm to be a good steward of these blessings, as well as those thrift store and garage sale treasures, it requires a bit of organization and discipline.  I've been rotating clothes each season for 8 years now.  Here is what I've learned.

#1 Store by size CLEARLY LABELED, in plastic bins, with a dryer sheet or two for freshness. 

My Mom suggested the dryer sheet and I've never had trouble with musty smells.  Our clothes are all stored in the basement!  I never wash clothes when I get them out of storage.  Out of the box and straight into the closet is my motto.  If however, you do have a musty scent, dump the contents into your dryer with a dryer sheet and you should be good to go in a half hour or so.

#2 Keep specialty items separate.

I used to have to dig for the next size swimming suit or snow pants.  Not anymore.  I store all the swimming suits in one box and all the snow pants on one rack.  That way, I can just move them to the next sized item.  It's much easier to dig through one box or rifle through one rack, than 5 bins. 

#3 Don't put everything in the dresser or closet.

This was huge for me.  I always thought, "Well, maybe they'll have a reason to wear this..."  And then, I'd find myself putting some clothes away unworn!  I have four girlies.  Sooner or later, everything will get used and that's why God has provided abundantly.  I don't have to have 4 stacks of t-shirts and 3 stacks of bottoms in the closet, just because that's what we have.  We select a reasonable amount appropriate for the season and the rest stays in storage to be kept nice for the next girlie who has different taste or body build or needs.  As my sister pointed out, you can always head back down to the basement to get more if you need to. (and this has happened only ONCE since I've put this into effect)

#4 Set it up like shopping.

I grab a laundry basket, the plastic bins from their closet or dresser drawers, trip down to the basement and place the new-to-them clothes, right in there.  When the girlies started having an opinion on clothing, this became even more important.  Blossom2 won't wear embroidered t-shirts.  "They pest me."  I thought they were cute and in really good shape, but I let her choose.  That way, I know she'll wear them.  At times, I say, "Well, that's enough shirts, if you want that one, you'll have to choose one to put back."  And she does.  TOO MUCH STUFF becomes a burden and it's a terrific lesson for them to learn now.

#5 Try it on like you're shopping.

We rotate clothing for one girlie at a time and they try on whatever I throw at them.  Then, I can weed out any modesty issues immediately.  It's less of a battle if the immodest pieces never make it into the closet.  It's hard to bemoan what you don't see every day.  I can also find out if a girlie needs slims or regulars or a different size shirt or if something needs to be mended.

#6 Be picky about what you keep. 

Don't keep it if it isn't modest.  Don't keep it if you, the parent, don't like it.  If I wouldn't come home from the store with it, we don't keep it.  I used to keep everything thinking maybe I could make it modest with a few alterations or maybe it'll eventually get used.  I've learned my lesson on that.  I save my tiny bit of sewing time for the most important mending and chuck the immodest and beyond help clothing right away.

#7 Be careful what you put in their closets or drawers.

If you stuff it chock full, it'll take super special care to keep it nice and tidy.  They're KIDS; make life easier for them with fewer items. 

#8 Make sure you have stuff to match with items you've chosen.

Since I rarely buy pieces for their wardrobe, I try to apply the rules I would use if I was shopping.  For example, we've had numerous adorable skirts, but I realized that Blossom1 never wore them.  That's because I didn't think ahead enough to make sure that shirts were selected that would match with them.  And, I say, "shirtS" because having optionS are wise.  This time, I held up the cute, colorful plaid skirt that Blossom2 had selected and we took a look at the shirts we selected.  We traded out a few of the shirts so she had 2-3 options to wear with it.  I'm a busy mama, so I love fostering independence.  They can find something to wear with what they've got, without needing Mama all the time.

There you have it.  Hope it goes a little smoother for you.  My girls pitched in this year and helped a whole bunch.  Afterward, we went out for soft pretzels and ice cream!  They deserved a reward after all that work!