Thursday, March 31, 2016

First World Problems: Managing Clothing

When I began having children, I quickly learned the thrift of accepting hand-me-downs and of purchasing at consignment stores when possible. I kept clothing for future babies.

Babies came, more babies came. It was almost two years ago (see here) that I created a Family Closet to house a lot of our children's future clothing: all sizes for all genders. I housed many huge Rubbermaid bins in the attic as well. We receive so many gorgeous hand-me-downs, I sometimes have to buy almost nothing for a particular child: 'Well, your spring and summer wardrobe is entirely taken care of!'

Recently I've found myself drowning in clothing that I have to manage physically, mentally, and emotionally. I've saved most clothing worn in both hot and cold seasons in all sizes from birth through boy size 9 and girl size 7, plus had received hand-me-downs for future sizes of my children. 

It was a lot of clothing. 

All the clothing organized took up an entire large closet in the guest room, many large Rubbermaid bins in the attic, and half of a large closet in the boys' room. That doesn't count shoes. That doesn't count coats.

This is a First World Problem!

22 bags of clothing to give away

It has simply become too much. So, a couple of months ago, I began sorting it out to donate away a lot. Essentially: I need to give away clothing smaller than John because there is a six-year gap before the next boy. Mary's clothes get handed down to Margaret, but then girls' clothing should be given away because there are no other girls. Even if God blesses us with another baby who happens to be a girl, there would be at least a six-year gap. (I saved all my hand sewn dresses!) Lastly, Joseph's clothes will be handed down to Thomas.

Baby clothes now in the Big Boy Closet


  • Size under 18 months: Keeping because I'm not emotionally ready to give them away while the current baby is only 8 months old. Gives me panicky feelings about 'what if this is the last baby?!'
  • Sizes 18 months - 2T: CURRENT for Thomas
  • Sizes 3-4: CURRENT for Joseph
  • Size 5: Keeping because Joseph is within a year of growing into them.
  • Sizes 6, 7, 8: GIVING AWAY because John has outgrown those.
  • Size 12: Keeping because that is John's next size up
  • Sizes 14 and 16: GIVING AWAY

Mary reading silently while hiding amid my donation bags


  • Sizes 0-6 months: Keeping one bin because it is nice during the crazy early postpartum months to have a few basics. Maybe God will send us another girl.
  • Sizes 6 months - 4 years: GIVING AWAY
  • Size 5: CURRENT for Margaret
  • Size 6: Keeping because Margaret is within a year of growing into them.
  • Size 7: CURRENT for Mary
  • Size 8: Keeping because Mary is within a year of growing into them.

Finished family closet holding a lot less than before
--and the attic is cleared out!

I found this project so spiritually revealing. I would find my heart literally start racing at giving away so many good quality, expensive, brand name clothing: true anxiety! That anxiety reveals a spiritual problem: I live in the wealthiest country in the world, I am well provided for by my hard-working husband, yet I'm having heart palpitations about giving away clothing that fits nobody in my current family.

Isn't it amazing how fast we transition from good stewardship of resources (virtue) to spiritual problem (sin)?

I just kept repeating to myself: "Katherine, let this item bless another family who needs it now. You should not be hoarding this for six years until it fits the next child. You do not have space for this. Your children will be provided for and you do not need to keep this!"

Anyhoo . . . if you're a local friend, let me know if any of the above sizes are bags you want to look through. I'll be trying to offer these to friends before I deliver them to the Goodwill.


  1. I understand! I haven't taken the plunge yet. My problem is not just my children's clothes. I have amassed a wardrobe spanning 5 sizes. I'm tempted to just keep my current size, yet, I will most likely have another child (God willing) and I will grow again. (1st world) Problems!

  2. Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you so much for posting this. I just mentioned to my husband that I really need to get rid of a lot of the children's outgrown clothing. Your statement about managing the clothes being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting is so spot on as well as having heart palpitations while going through them. I feel exactly the same way. Although, I think my husband tends to think, "we may need it some day," which we will since we have 3 girls and 2 boys (and currently expecting....won't know baby's gender until birth), but we also have a couple 5 year gaps between same gender siblings. I must have 30 large, gray Rubbermaid containers in our basement full of clothing that needs to be managed...1st world problem indeed.

  3. Bridget: Thank you for being honest with me too! I'm glad I'm not the only one with this embarrassing kind of First World problem of overabundance.