The Why: Our 6th baby (a girl!) is due in December, less than a week after my oldest child will turn 6. That means that we are approximately one week short of having six kids in six years. When you are perpetually pregnant, you acquire a lot of baby clothes.
It isn't uncommon for friends who are done having kids to give us big black garbage bags filled with clothes. We've also received clothing as baby gifts and I've been known to browse my local thrift store for great deals, especially when that pregnancy nesting urge causes me to swoon at the sight of anything itsy-bitsy.
My solution, up until now, has been to immediately donate any items I know for sure that I won't use and to store the rest in totes, sorted by size. This "solution" has resulted in us collecting hoards of children's clothing. It's like a Baby GAP outlet in our basement.
This is embarrassing...
Eeek! Insane, right? Yesterday I had to haul all of this up from the basement (in my pregnant, tired, grumpy state) tote by tote and sort through it all. I swear that the best way to become a minimalist real quick is to haul all of your crap a long enough distance from where it was hiding that you just don't want to haul it all back!
The How: My favourite decluttering technique that I've embraced on this journey of less is to set limits for our stuff. It allows us to keep only what we've decided we can reasonably use and store, and it discourages shopping because we have a limit on how much space our stuff can fill up.
So I set a limit of four bins of clothing for our kids to grow in to: one for the baby girl on the way, one for our twin girls, one for my little boy, and one for my two oldest girls (who are close enough in age and size that things get handed down without needing to be stored anywhere in between.)
I'm giving away all of the clothing items that I never particularly liked or that we have too many of. Very worn and ratty things are becoming rags.
Also, I'm giving away all of the boy stuff my son has grown out of.
I asked a good friend yesterday if she would like some of the baby boy clothes for her son and she responded by asking me the very thing I had been asking myself. You're getting rid of the baby boy clothes? But what if....?
What if we have another baby after this one? And what if it's a boy?
The math of the matter suggests that if we have another baby after this one (undecided) and it's a boy (turns out the whole "it must be a boy, since you have so many girls" thing is not actually scientifically sound), my son will be nearly 5 years old by then. That is a long time to be hoarding adorable little boy clothes, just in case.
It should be a crime to keep spiffy little outfits like this hoarded in the basement when some other little man could be wooing hearts in it. No?
The Verdict: I know I told you all a while back that I'm not very sentimental, but I'll confess; packing up the little boy clothes choked me up a little bit. I'll get over it.
I have 5 big blue recycling bags full of clothes to take to the thrift store, plus a box of girl stuff for a friend having her first baby girl this winter and a box of the best of the boy stuff for my friend's little man.
And I'm left with my 4 totes of clothing plus 3 smaller totes of winter gear such as snow suits and boots.
And my favourite part: because I got rid of so much stuff, I'm able to store everything I'm keeping in matching totes. Yes, that's the kind of thing that makes me giddy!
The Lessons We're Learning: Honestly, decluttering is a hassle. I don't want to do all this work and then keep collecting and consuming stuff and have to do it all again in another 5 years. We don't want to spend our lives moving our stuff around, and having yard sales, and finding versatile organizational solutions so that we can cram as much as possible into our storage areas.
We need to be more careful about what we bring into the home, pickier about how many hand-me-downs we accept (although we are certainly grateful for them!), and quicker to redistribute things we don't need.
Oh, and free stuff is never entirely free. It costs time, energy, space, and sometimes even a trip to the mall for a cute little cardigan to go with it.
We are doing one small thing (almost) every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!