Last week I decided to tackle a task I’d been putting off for months – that of going through the clothes my sons wore. Parents will know what a tiresome chore this can be, especially if you have more than one child. You have to confront a mountain of clothing and the resulting feeling is often of overwhelm. In desperation you end up wondering if you could smother yourself in the piles of clothes just so you wouldn’t have to keep sorting them - or maybe that's just me.
It’s not just about working out what clothes still fit your child - hello sudden growth spurts - but also looking at the condition of the clothes (why do my kids like getting spaghetti bolognese on their tops?), before turning to organising their clothes in t-shirts, jumpers, pants etc and figuring out where to store them.
With three children, for me the task of sorting through their clothes often feels like a mammoth one
With three children, for me the task of sorting through their clothes often feels like a mammoth one, though this year I’ve put my daughter in charge of her wardrobe. Having glanced in her closet however, I will probably have to deal with her clothes at some point because let’s just say, it’s a mess in there.
The reason I got to this point of overwhelm is because my children are spread out in ages, which is why we have lots of different clothes in different sizes. I also kept a number of my older son’s clothes when I found out I was expecting my third. As a result my youngest wears a lot of hand-me-downs, many of which he also gets from friends who no longer need it for their kids.
With bags of hand-me-downs in different sizes, clothes to donate to charity, clothes to recycle, and mental notes to work out what clothes my children need for the upcoming change in weather, the mental load when it comes to my children’s clothes is real.
You have to confront a mountain of clothing and the resulting feeling is often of overwhelm.
Ultimately, how many clothes does a child even need? I Googled it and there seems to be no real consensus on the number of items. Some sites say each child will need 15 pairs of jeans (this seems way too many in my opinion) while others say two pairs of each item of clothing is enough (this seems too low to me).
I’m now feeling like Goldilocks, but I don’t know what number is just right. At the end, I guess the right number depends on your child and how careful they are with what they wear as well as what sort of activities they do.
I know I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed when it comes to their children's clothing. Over in Amsterdam a father worked out that on average, parents use 280 items of clothing for their child before their second birthday. It’s why this dad created a business renting out children’s clothes. His company now operates Europe-wide and has partnered with retailers such as H&M.
Other parents have also noted a business opportunity and have started websites selling secondhand kids clothes. Laura Roso Vidrequin, for example, launched her company Kids O Clock after becoming a mum by selling secondhand clothing from around 20 parents. It now sells a range of designer secondhand children's clothes.
Personally I think both businesses are good concepts but perhaps not ones I would use myself. My older two are tweenagers and at an age where they are making many of their own fashion choices. If I was renting out clothes or buying secondhand designer clothing, I'd just be worried about my children ruining the clothes they were wearing.
At the same time I don't want to give into fast fashion, much of which seems to cater to parents who are time poor and looking to quickly and cheaply clothe their children.
I don't want to give into fast fashion, much of which seems to cater to parents.
When it comes to my nine-year-old son for example, as much as I want to get him used clothing like I did when he was a toddler or a baby, by buying bulk lots of secondhand clothes from eBay or the like, options like this don't seem to exist for older children. Maybe it has to do with children that age ruining their clothes - I know with my own sons they almost always end up getting holes or stains in their clothing.
For now I'm glad that all three of my children are now at school. This means that for most of the week they are wearing their uniforms and using their other clothes less. Working out what to dress them in is for the most part something I worry about on the weekends or when they are invited to birthday parties or other special occasions.
I'm also guessing that as they get older and look after their own clothing choices my input on what they wear becomes less important. But with that comes one huge benefit too - it means I no longer have to declutter their clothes. But I will also have to learn to turn the other way when I spot the huge mess in their cupboards.