Sometimes I have a hard time saying “no” to free clothes for the kids.
We have been very blessed to be surrounded by so many kind friends who graciously pass their kids’ clothes that they have outgrown on down to us. This has been a huge blessing and has saved us so much money that I don’t know if I could tabulate it if I tried.
What this means is that sometimes I say “yes” to free clothes even when I’m pretty sure my kids have enough. I’m always quite sure that there is something that someone is growing out of or wearing holes through or staining beyond recognition so I always just accept with thanks whatever is handed down to us and if we are unable to use it, we pass it on to someone else. While I do very much appreciate these gifts of kindness, I have recently had to face the facts. My kids have too many clothes. Maybe I can continue to say “yes” to these things if I will just learn to immediately go through what we already have and balance things out by passing on more of our stuff.
What this excess of clothing translates to is me having to do laundry less often, which is sort of nice. But then it also translates to, when I do actually do the laundry it becomes an unclimbable mountain, or should I say Volcano, in my living room. And then if I somehow manage to get everything washed and folded, my children have an almost impossible task of trying to fit it all into their drawers.
What an embarrassingly and disgustingly western problem this must sound like, “Ugh! We have too many clothes!!! Woe is us.” It makes me sick to think of how many children we could clothe with the amount of clothes we have haphazardly amassed. While I don’t know what we would do without hand-me-downs…. They are wonderful, this week my project is to go through the kids’ clothes and weed things out. I want each child to have just about two weeks worth of decent wearable clothes in their drawers at all times. This seems like a reasonable amount of clothes to me. So this morning we have gone through and removed to a bag all Summer clothes. Bye bye Summer clothes. We’ll see you in June!
We have also gone through and chosen over two bag’s worth of clothes to be Freecycled to someone else who can get use out of them. I don’t know how familiar any of you are with Freecycle but it is a fabulous non-profit organization of sorts that is devoted to keeping stuff out of landfills. It encourages re-use and a community awareness as you are allowed not only to offer things but to ask for things that you need as well. And everything has to be offered completely free of charge. No exchanges or bartering allowed. Our local Freecycle group has over 4,000 members.
It’s a beautiful concept for so many reasons, not the least of which is convenience for the person who is offering stuff. It can sometimes be a huge pain to have to bring all of your items to a place like the Goodwill or the Salvation Army when you are working on a project around your house. We have really enjoyed the fact that we can offer something in the morning, set it on the porch and have it be gone, to someone who truly wants it, by the evening. We’ve had people come and take big rocks and scrap lumber out of our yard because they wanted it for one reason or another. To the person who needs free big rocks, the work of picking them up and moving them is a small price to pay and to the person who wants to be rid of such things, the advantage of not having to haul them away yourself is priceless so it’s a wonderful symbiosis that happens through Freecycle! If you haven’t checked it out, go do it now and see if you have one in your area. We’ve been Freecycling for about 5 years now and highly recommend it.
So I’m sitting here taking a break from this task and wondering how you all solve the clothes issues. Do you find that your children have too many clothes? Does it frustrate you? What is your solution? Do you have a “system?” Are you incredibly organized about how you deal with clothes that your children are growing in and out of, storage, etc. Or are you like me where you suddenly find yourself standing in a child’s room that is strewn with way too much laundry screaming “ACK!! Something has to be done about the madness NOW or my head is going to explode!!!“