Minimalism and Children’s Clothes

Photo by Caspar Rubin on Unsplash

I used to keep all of my children’s clothes.

As our first child, Caleb, grew out of things, I would pack them away in a sturdy plastic bin and put it in storage. I bought many bins over the years to accommodate ALL these clothes…bin upon bin built up quite a collection of boy clothes, from newborn through the toddler sizes.

Then we discovered minimalism a year ago and my entire approach to clothing began to change. Isaiah was an infant, so I was beginning to go back through those first bins of boy clothing to see what might be useful.

With my new minimalist perspective I saw clearly for the first time the folly of my ways. I had kept SO MANY clothes, many of which I didn’t even like. They were the ones that I rarely or never put on Caleb as a baby that sat on the shelf just in case I ran out of clothes I liked.

Why did I keep them?

Being frugal has something to do with it, but there is also this nagging voice that says, “You might need that one day.” That’s the voice I was not listening to anymore. I decided that if I really did *need it* one day, I could replace it.

I would not be chained to clothing because of an anxious voice in my head any longer.

My new approach was simple: I kept every clothing item that I liked and was in good condition. Everything else was thrown away or donated.

I got rid of a lot of clothes.

Space opened up (empty bins!) and I saw a way forward with my kids’ clothes that did not end up with me standing among towers of stacked bins, overwhelmed and wondering what to do with it all.

The psychological benefit of minimalism is huge. The mental space is as rewarding as the physical.

Now as my children continue to grow and I routinely sort through their clothing, the process is easy. If they wear it and it’s in good condition, it stays in their drawers (I do keep a few “play clothes” for each child that are not in good condition). If it is damaged or never worn I get rid of it. If it is outgrown, I keep it for the next child only if I LOVE it or it is particularly valuable/useful.

Minimalism has also changed the way I buy clothes. I used to love yard sales, consignment stores and bags of hand-me-downs. Now I avoid them. As much as I love getting clothes for a fraction of the retail price (or free), the time commitment involved is not usually worth it, at least at this time in my life. I do shop at consignment stores occasionally, but for the most part I buy new clothes for my kids as they need them.

And here is the key: each child does not need very much. A few pairs of pants/shorts, a few t-shirts, a few long sleeved shirts, and a few nicer outfits for church is all that’s needed. So buying replacements as items are outgrown or damaged is not a financial strain.  Plus I don’t shop at expensive stores, so that always helps the bottom line!

The empty bins, the space in drawers, the psychological freedom…minimalism has been such a gift.

Planning for the New Year

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It is vital for me to simplify if I want to accomplish anything.  Otherwise the overwhelm takes over and nothing productive happens.  Planning for a new year is one of these things.  I want to be intentional about the new year coming.  I want to have my priorities and goals in order and in mind so that I do not blunder through the year haphazardly.  But when anyone starts talking about roles and goals and intentions and priorities and planning I start to feel like burying my head under a pillow.  Where do I even start?  How do I determine what’s really important for this year?  Frankly, I’d rather do something else.

So I simplify.  I sat down with Trello this afternoon and made a board for the new year.  Then I wrote all my separate roles (wife, mother, etc.) as headers of separate lists.  Then I wrote down priorities or goals for each role.  I did not take a lot of time to do this.

Then I took my new weekly planner (which I bought at Walmart, by the way, and really like) and wrote out a sample week.  I do not have any desire to schedule every minute of every day, but rather I put down the basic structure of the days and certain things that need to happen.

For example, a new strategy I have going forward is scheduling two afternoons each week to focus on housekeeping, including laundry, instead of spreading it through the week (or not doing it at all!).  These afternoons will be on the days that I go to work in the mornings.  All that is written in my planner, along with items like when we will be homeschooling and my writing times.

Priorities in Trello.  A weekly rhythm in my pink, spiral-bound planner.  I think I’m ready for 2018.

Simplify to accomplish!


Becoming Minimalist

Space. Peace. Breath. Order. Calm.  This is what minimalism has brought to our house.  But it took us an awfully long time to figure it out.   

I’ve thought for years that if I became more organized and worked out a good schedule, I would be able to run our lives smoothly.  The house would be tidy and clean, the laundry would get done (even put away!), dinner would happen every day, and I would have time to be with my children and husband.  

I read books about achieving that dream.  I knew that some women reach that goal, so I assumed I could, too, with enough discipline.  

But I never did.  

Nearly nine years into marriage and six years into motherhood proved to me that this “running a household” thing was an untamable dragon, at least for me.

I was drowning in stuff.  

There were toys…everywhere.  On a good night the toys would be corralled into their homes, their “organized” places, and things would feel better.  And then the first 30 minutes of morning with children would happen and the better feeling would be gone.  

There were so many clothes in a constant cycle of washing and drying and sitting in laundry baskets and (eventually) being folded, maybe put away and worn again.  

There was clutter: the evident clutter on shelves and counters and the hidden clutter behind cupboard doors and in closets…whispering to us that all was not right with the world.  Of course there were also the low moans of the “deeper cleaning” jobs that never happened.  Scrub the kitchen floor?  When, exactly?

The discouraging cycle continued day after day.  I was barely keeping my head above water, doing what was absolutely necessary for a very low standard of cleanliness and health.  I knew I needed to be better at this housekeeping thing, but it felt impossible.

And then we discovered minimalism.

The catalyst was a documentary by The Minimalists on Netflix that we saw in Januay of this year.  Around the same time I saw a video on YouTube called The Ten-Item Wardrobe.  These people were serious about getting rid of stuff and living a better life with less.

I was ready.

Clothing was the first category I tackled.  I discovered that I had been keeping clothing items for all of us that I didn’t need and didn’t like.  I had also kept lots of little boy’s old baby clothes for baby, and many of the items I’d kept I didn’t like and didn’t need.  Out the door to be donated or into the trash (stained or damaged items) went a LOT of clothing.  

Next came the toys, which we sorted and donated and threw out.  We kept everything our children love: Legos, Duplos, train tracks (both wooden and Thomas Take ‘n Play), Hot Wheels tracks & cars, a marble maze, etc. and got rid of everything that didn’t get played with or was damaged.       

We made a good start.  We had lots more room in our closets and drawers.  I could see that minimalism worked.  But there was still a piece of the puzzle missing.  

And then I stumbled across this article by Allie Casazza.  Almost instantly the puzzle piece settled into place…that piece connecting minimalism with motherhood.  All of a sudden I was given permission to get rid of things (MOST things), not for my sake or sanity alone, but also for my children.  The concept that less is more for them was a rush of fresh air against my overwhelmed face.  

With this new inspiration came a whole new wave of purging stuff, and this time it was even more serious.  I (slowly) went through much of the kitchen, the front closet, my closet, all the shelves, the cabinets in the living and dining rooms, the bathroom closet.  This time I got rid of things I liked but did not use – a beautiful large quilted pillow sham that I have been carting around for years because it’s SO pretty, the french press coffee maker, the Europress coffee maker, the hand grinder and pour-over coffee making system (sheesh, we had a lot of ways to make coffee).  

Simply put, I got rid of a ton of STUFF and we felt it.  Our 800-and-some-square-feet duplex began to feel honestly livable for five people.  

I started to have peaceful feelings when I walked in the door or looked at a bookshelf.  Even when toys got out of control, it took five minutes or less to get back to a peaceful living room.  

The bottom line was that I had killed the mess dragon!  

It turns out that I am not doomed to have a cluttered house.  I didn’t even have to get more organized or disciplined to achieve a level of tidiness I’d never known before.  I just had to get rid of a lot of stuff.  It’s so ridiculously simple.

And not only did physical space open up, but time began to open up.  Without the mental clutter of seeing stuff everywhere and knowing I needed to clean it, minutes started to be given back to me.    

So…are YOU ready?!  

If so, I’d say that the first big step is MINDSET.  You really have to want it because it’s a lot of work up front.  But if you’ve HAD IT with being overwhelmed and living in a mess no matter how much you pick up, then you are ready.  

Minimalism is not a gimmick.  Nobody makes any money if you decide to go minimalist.  It’s a very simple idea: if you have less, there’s less to manage (clean, maintain, move, put away, etc.) and more space and time left over.  It works.  You just have to do it.

If you’re really ready to dive in, go over to and get super inspired by her.  She even offers a course to help people go through their entire homes.  She was SO very helpful and inspiring to me.  

Then START.  

Start with your clothes, or your children’s toys, or the kitchen counter, or whatever is driving you crazy right now.  

Watch the space begin to open up and relish the freedom.  

Then watch out because minimalism is addicting.  You’ll start seeing all sorts of places to minimize (the top of the refrigerator!) and you will want to hit every single one.  It won’t happen in a day or even a week, but gradually it WILL happen.  

Then come back here and leave a comment so I can share your joy!