Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Our Pioneer Living Experiment--Clothes #1

Jer's clothing tub is now only half full instead of stuffed to the brim.

Alathia's clothing shelf holds few outfits now.

In addition to feeling overwhelmed with toys, I was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothing the kids have, thanks to the scads of garbage bags of hand-me-downs we get at church from friends. Ali's shelf was absolutely stuffed and because she rifles through them constantly, changing outfits often, we don't bother to fold them and so it just looked like a huge mess. A lot of darling clothing wasn't even being worn simply because it was hidden in the back or because she doesn't like it for this or that reason.

Sick of folding big stacks of clothes and trying to keep Ali's shelf from overflowing, I decided to incorporate the paring down to the basics (5-10 outfits) with clothing as well as with toys. But, we're bending it a bit in the sense that I kept all the hanging clothing in the closet since it stays neat and out of the way and we do use the various jackets and church outfits for different occasions. I also kept in mind the fact that Justus and Jeremiah are heavy wetters and so, I allowed them to have around 10 outfits and Ali to have about half of that. Having less outfits means she has to wear what's there and has less opportunity to try to change clothes 10 times a day.

Clothing isn't one of those hills I'm willing to die on, and as Ali's preschool teacher will tell you, I let her pick her own clothes and she goes to school wearing some of the wildest get-ups (flowered bell-bottoms with quilted skirts and snowboots and clashing shirt, etc.) Even though I wish she'd wear her courderoy dress or her fancy sweaters more often, I realized that it's not something I want to force on her and if she doesn't care for them, then they are wasting space in the closet and they should be given to someone who will get some use out of them.

I haven't given away all of the clothes I packed up. I bagged them up and in a few weeks I will possibly rotate some of them and sort them to see what should be given or sold at a yard sale. I also plan to keep an outfit or two for each child in the van for emergencies/messes and a few outfits on hand but out of the kids' reach so that when we travel and don't have laundry facilities handy, they will have plenty to wear.

It's interesting how having less clothing feels like less work, whether or not it actually is, because there is less clutter in the bedroom and smaller stacks of laundry to fold. Yes, laundry needs to be done more frequently, but since I now have a washer and dryer in my home, it's so easy to just toss in a load every morning and get it done. Better to do a load every 1-3 days anyway than to let 1-2 weeks of clothes pile up in a small house.

The beauty of our experiment is that it is just that: an experiment! I'm enjoying packing things up with the knowledge that we still have those things at our disposal if we need them but they are out of sight and out of mind and not cluttering up our rooms anymore. If you are someone that longs to live simply but finds yourself constantly feeling guilty about getting rid of things (especially sentimental things or gifts), or scared that you won't have enough, this experiment is for you! Packing things up to store and then rotate is a wonderful way to live simply while still keeping possession of some special things. And during different seasons we can pull out different things to wear or display.

Tomorrow I'll write again on the topic of clothes.

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