The 'too much clothes' conundrum!
Hey ladies, I’m needing some advice. Earlier today I got in a battle with my children (nearly 6 and a solid 4 years old) over folding their laundry. I have decided that it is appropriate for them to fold and put away their own clothes. (Does this sound excessive to anyone, please pipe in if you think it isn’t age appropriate.) After a long fight I ended up putting their clean laundry (high percentage hand made) in bags for goodwill! While I never intended to give away my handmades to goodwill, I backed myself in a corner and now I have to figure a way out of it, even if its to smuggle the precious items back inside to live in storage forever. My main problem is, I know it would be more manageable for the children to just have a few clothes (I read once all a child needs is 7 items of clothing to get through a week) but my problem is (as I know you all understand) is I LOVE TO MAKE THEM CLOTHES! It makes me so happy and it is my go-to activity to unwind and enjoy myself. How do I marry simplicity and empty drawers without sacrificing what I enjoy more than anything? To be clear, I don’t purchase them clothes except an odd pair of jeans or so, the only store bought clothes are gifts so I can’t really cut that out to make more room. Any thoughts or advise on how you deal with having such fabulous children’s wardrobes is greatly appreciated!Tamara @justsewit
I can understand your dilemma. It has only been up until this January that we have had inadequate storage in the children’s bedrooms and upon filling the new wardrobes, I found we were again lacking the room. I would say maybe limit the amount of clothes they have access to by rotating them. You can get bags that you can use for clothing storage that is almost like vacuum sealing them. Take the seasonal wear out and put them into these bags in order to make more room to make lovely things for your children and then as the weather permits swap them around again. You can store these bags under beds or anywhere. It may help you to find the room.
In terms of expecting your little ones to take full responsibility at such an age, it is a huge ask! I would start small as they are only little. Get them to help fold and take ownership in putting them away but with your guidance as to where they go. My ten year old is only just learning to take full responsibility for how she organises her wardrobe. I still fold and hand them to her and she is responsible for putting them away – and I turn my head away and force myself not to reorganise her space! My seven year old still needs help.
I wouldnt let them loose on this as they are likely to become too overwhelmed. If you stay close and guide them they should be able to get the hang of it in a few years to do it themselves.cybele727 @cybele727
Kids as young as 4 & 6 don’t usually have either the manual dexterity/ developmental skills to fold or the staying power to fold or put away. My 6 y/o clears his plate from the table. He puts his laundry away if I hand him one piece at a time and we talk about which drawer, etc. a four year old can do that too, but it will take forever! :). The 6 y/o can put dirty laundry in a hamper when he/she undresses, & a 4 y/o can if you hand it to them and tell them to do it.
How to get your loving items back in? Tell them the truth. While your initial reaction was x, you rethought it and feel as though they can help out by y. Mommy changed her mind. But you are still laying out concrete realistic expectations of them.
Smaller more manageable tasks. This is also a great way to teach responsibility. Small steps. Large onerous chores fail, but small steps building onto self sufficiency teach self discipline and respect for self and their items.
You wouldn’t teach reading a phd thesis before the ABCs? Same here. Teach to fold by making matching socks their helpful job and slowly build up. I have a sweater thing hanging in my son’s closet. On Sunday night together we fill each slot with an outfit so he knows what to wear each day. Small chores. By the end of 2 mo, he can do it on his own.
Disclosure: I am not using mommy skills, but teacher skills when I say all this. Parents are a child’s first and most influential teachers. Everything is a teaching opportunity. Some days we succeed, other days … Not so much! 🙂pippi @pippi
I struggle with the “why do I keep sewing them things when the don’t need anymore clothes” issue a lot. But I do love sewing and finally decided I am just going to keep sewing even if they don’t need them or even barely wear them. I think of it as my hobby, like painting or writing poetry might be for someone else. I do take every opportunity to make stuff for OTHER people though too. Like for charity or fundraiser events and and gifts, so that is a good way to keep sewing but not add to your own closets.
On the chores topic, I read this book last summer and it really inspired me to give my kids more responsibilities for all of our benefits. http://www.amazon.com/Cleaning-House-Twelve-Month-Experiment-Entitlement/dp/0307730670. My kids are a little younger than those in the book, but it still gives a good long term plan and I have started implementing a few of the ideas already.
My kids are just over 6 and 3.5 and while they don’t fold the laundry, they can put it away (the older one just started figuring out how to hang stuff and we have a step in her closet so she can reach the higher shelf). Their drawers aren’t immaculate, but the way they rummage through looking for stuff to wear I don’t think it would much be worth me making it look nice to begin with!
It is a gradual process, but sometimes I am really surprised how well my kids can handle tasks when given the opportunity.
That is AMAZING that you can sew them that much of their wardrobe though. If only I had more hours in the day…
Good Luck!theknittinganxiety @theknittinganxiety
I have a 2 years old daughter and she loves to imitate me doing the domestic tasks, she loves to help me do the beds and she puts the pillows, and she loves hangers, I guess she would Love to hang her clothes if she could. And she just love the vacuum cleaner, she loves it so much that I bought a smaller one for kids just for her, so when I use the vacuum cleaner she uses her one, is so cute to see.
Now the ugly stuff, she never wants to pack up her toys, as a matter of fact, as soon as I start packing up she goes there and takes out everything I just packed… I just need to have patient and eventually she will learn to pack up her toys.
I really don’t know if there is a proper age for organizing their clothes or for doing any task, but I think that you can start including your children in that task and not expect them to be fully responsibile for it. Eventually they will start doing by them selves, I guess (I hope).Maggie @Maggie
Kids are all so different. I got annoyed with my 6 year old recently because she refused to wear a shirt I had sewn. She had picked the fabrics and seemed very excited until it was all sewn. Then resistance. I said, no more clothing for you, but relented. I have been making her only knit items, but am going to try a roller skate dress. (Part of the issue was the shirt I made was not as comfy since it was not a knit.)
We have been getting her fewer things in general. My husband and I enjoy indulging the kids a little, but they were coming to expect it. We are trying to give them no toys (other than books ) outside of birthday/holiday occasions.
I agree that folding might be difficult for 4 and 6 year-olds, but the older child could start with sorting socks and undies. Legging are easy to fold. Folded items could be put away. Other room tidying chores could be included. My 6 year old is pretty good at tidying her room if she is motivated.
Good luck! Keep sewing! Maybe a niece or other friend needs a nice present.cybele727 @cybele727
Oh and my daughter has too much too! The best dressed 3 y/o that never goes anywhere thanks to O&S.mrsc1345 @mrsc1345
Thanks for taking the time to reply! I’m going to have to remember to keep my head about me and not get carried away in grand sweeping gestures like giving away all the clothes. I will bring them back, but I suppose we can take the time to purge any clothes we can’t live without to keep our laundry day easier. I was happy to hear to just continue doing what you love, I wish I had family to sew for instead, but no children besides mine and my handmades haven’t been super well received among their friends. I suppose I will have to start looking harder for opportunities to sew for others! And I realized I sounded a little brash earlier in my frustration, the children have been helping to sort and put away their laundry for a long time, they know how to fold their own clothes or hang dresses ( I don’t expect perfection, just effort! Ditto to the comment about children rummaging through the drawers!) and they had a small pile of clothes to fold each, but they wouldn’t so much as look at the pile. It was a blatant, “I don’t want to do this chore, so I’m just going to sit here and not even attempt it” sort of attitude, which drives me crazy! Well, at least today is a new day, time to start over! Thanks again for all your replies.scgoble @scgoble
I fold/hanger the items for my 4yo and she puts them away, with supervision (okay, goading). Her closet and drawers are within easy reach for her.
As to volume, my mother purchases a suite of clothing for my daughter every time she receives a new Tea Collection, Garnet Hill, etc. catalog. “Spoiled” is not even the word. So frankly I have just turned my sewing time into making things for myself. It’s more of a challenge for me and I feel like it’s expanded my skills to work on adult things. At this point, I sew one item for my daughter for every 3-4 I sew for myself.mrskanuckles @mrskanuckles
I loved reading this post. In my opinion, I believe that mrsc1345 will know what her own kids are capable of. I give my 5 year old small piles of clothes and have her take them in her room and put them in the right drawers… but I am to OCD to let her fold it. My son who is 2 puts his shoes in his closet.
My kids have been throwing thier trash, wrappers etc in the garbage since they were able to walk to the garbage. Friends of mine have 4 and 5 year olds that leave these things all over the house.
I think it is purely the environment they were raised in.
I sew alot for my kids and luckily my daughter is super excited about it. But, she treats her homemade clothes the same as her store bought… they get stains and tears just the same. I usually dont mind as they are kids and I want her to enjoy wearing my stuff, and not feeling as if she needs to not play or has to be super careful in them. This keeps her wanting to wear the stuff I make.
When I make things for kids as gifts, I try to keep them geared toward things like pajamas, skirts, purses or crayon holders. They are usually very well received. The hopscotch dress as pajamas is always a huge hit… that or pajama bottoms with an appliqued tee. Fancy dresses are usually a fail because they just dont get worn much. — This is all in my super unqualified opinion of course.Lightning McStitch @LightningMcStitch
I recall a very successful Australian business woman and mother of many children (and “woman of the year” recipient) talking about how she dealt with things being left lying around. She had a “blue bin” which anything on the floor after tidying up time was put into, and once a week, on a fixed day, without fanfare, the Blue Bin got emptied into the trash. Tough if you hadn’t gone through it to retrieve your favourite lost thing.
I’d be fine to do that with a lot of things, but it would only work if you did it ruthlessly.
For me, the clothes sewing is a hobby to amuse myself too, so the end result of too many clothes is entirely my fault! Hence no-one is penalised by me throwing them out except myself.
My four year old has trained the two year old very well to take his dirty clothes to the laundry hamper (she’s at that cute but mostly useless helpful age). That’s about as far as we’ve got! 🙂Sarvi @Sarvi
I’m afraid I couldn’t have a Blue Bin in my house because I would be throwing away my own things. It’s exceedingly hard to try to live differently as an adult than the way you were raised, as it turns out.Tamara @justsewit
I do something a little the same but different – as N puts it – we have a plastic crate each where things that are on the table are put in there and they are cleared out once a week. I cant throw them out as my hubby has the bills in his! So it wouldn’t go down too well. Prior to decent bedroom storage in the children’s rooms, we had toys ruling the house. Now the rule is they keep the toys in their room and bring one thing out at a time. If it doesn’t fit in the wardrobe it goes in the cubby and of they want to bring something out of storage, they have to swap it with something to go into storage. That way the amount of stuff is controlled and I get my living areas back!
The kids must have a clear floor before bedtime and I say this is a safety thing more than a tidy up thing, reminding them that if we have to get out of the house in a hurry for some reason or if they are sick during the night, I don’t want to be tripping up on anything on the way. This takes A LOT of effort but with my help, they get to be able to learn these much needed skills.
I don’t think I am too far from what rules were given out in my parents home, just tweaked them a bit. My kids don’t do “job” during the week because we are flat out and they get hardly any time to relax after school and about a 3 hour round bus trip. Weekends are for that but I mix it up so they don’t feel as if any job is just their job. My son has always been great at helping and getting organised and my daughter is taking her time but is getting there.
I believe that yes they need to know how to do things like cleaning the toilet, bathroom kitchen etc and laundry but when they leave home, I know that they will find their way of doing things, I just arm them with the basics and a few habits they cant get rid of!LucyM @LucyM
It is true that all children are different and develop at their own pace. As a child, my sister and I had full laundry responsibilities for the household from about eight years old. Consequently, my four year old and I play the laundry game. She folds wash cloths, small towels, her underwear, and pillow cases. Much of her clothes are hung in the closet so I place them on hangers and she puts them in her closet. Since she was an infant I would color code her bottles so that she could distinguish juice, water, and milk. Thus, I have continued that system by distinguishing her hangers. Wooden ones on the top rack for dresses and pajamas. Felt hangers are for skirts, sweaters, and tops on the bottom rack. It works for us.
If your children can handle the chore, have them do it. If you find that it is daunting and they get frustrated, pull back some of the responsibilities until you find where they can perform and not become overwhelmed. Children often rise to expectations.
As to the quantity of clothing, it depends. I do not do laundry weekly (shocking, I know). She has enough clothing to last at least two weeks of two outfits per day. That isn’t excessive is it?Robin @Robin
Oh, the never ending laundry. We do laundry weekly. Sophie will be 7 in April and detests folding laundry. She has been sorting laundry for a few years now and putting it in the machine. She’s always enjoyed this. Must feel like a big girl job. She begrudgingly puts her laundry away. If her drawers or closet is over flowing, it’s just too overwhelming for her. We get a lot of hand me downs on top of the sewing I do for her. Lots of wardrobe “editing” around here.
She really wants to iron, but the thought makes me nervous. We’ve started with tea towels and pillow cases with a great deal of supervision and only when I’m in a really good mood.
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