Last month, I provided an introduction to the concept of capsule wardrobes and explained how it was the most important thing I did for myself in 2015. It contains tons of background information so if you haven’t check it out, or at a minimum, the infographic!

After minimizing my wardrobe, I naturally decided to tackle my kiddos’ clothes. Because, laundry.

It was a great success and in this post, I’ll discuss not only how I pared down their wardrobes but also how I discovered an incredible time saver that allows me to put all of our laundry away in minutes. I’m serious when I say it was life changing but at the same time, it was so obvious.

I’ll bet 95% of you aren’t doing it. So tune in.

How many outfits do my kids need?

Let me preface by saying this: when it comes to kids, mileage varies. You need to be honest with yourself about what you truly need and about your individual child. For my kids (boys ages 2 and 3.5 at the time of writing), about a dozen tops and eight bottoms is right. For us, that’s enough between loads of laundry and for any traveling adventure we have.

Does the child’s age play a role?

Yes. Babies will need extra tops. The season you potty train your toddler might require a handful of extra bottoms. I’ve found my children need fewer pieces as they get older but others find their children require a change of clothes after playing outside once they get into toddlerhood. Whatever you need for exactly one week without washing clothes is probably what you should have on hand. The object of minimizing is not to anticipate every possible clothing need and purchase 27 backups of everything. It’s also to avoid the sale aisle and grabbing a handful of cute clothes for $15 when you don’t need them. It’s also passing on hand me downs that you don’t truly need. <– We’ve all done all of these things.

Any secret tricks to reducing what we have?

I have two major tricks.

  1. Choose basic tops and bottoms and keep the extras to a minimum. I’ve found that button-ups as layers over long sleeves are a great extra for our wardrobes. Little girls might like dresses as alternatives to shirts. But the fewer “matching three piece sets” you purchase, the easier it will be to mix and match clothing. This is especially good for babies–unless you want to lose hours of your life looking for that jacket thing that goes with the onesie that goes with the pants with the monkey on the butt. Life is too short. Repeat after me: MIX AND MATCH.
  2. Speaking of mix and match. It sounds like overkill but when you purchase a season’s wardrobe, just pick a few color families so that tops and bottoms pair more easily. If the blue pants only go with one or two tops, the blue pants become annoying quickly. If one shirt gets dirty and there is a 90% chance that any bottoms you grab from the drawer match, life is beautiful. That is, if you care about matching. If not, totally disregard.

Will my kids wear through their clothes faster?

So far, I haven’t noticed a problem in this area. The goal is that I get my money’s worth from each item of clothing so by the end of the season or two, I don’t mind wear. If it’s suitable for a hand me down, great. If not, so be it. That brings me to our next question…

Play Clothes vs. School Clothes, is that a thing?

Do you want it to be a thing? Then let’s do it. Perhaps you have outdoor adventuring children or your kids seem to wear holes in perfectly good pants after a few washings. Let’s call all the shrunken, stained, ill-fitting, wonky clothing “play clothes”. Figure out how many of those your kids need in a week and toss them in basket. Keep their “nice clothes” folded elsewhere for either school or other “put together occasions”. As you do laundry, you can toss all the clean play clothes in the basket and your kids can grab them as needed–folded or not. Just their school clothes get the royal treatment. As their nicer clothes get worn out, you can rotate them in as play clothes.

What about all the other crap like jackets, socks, shoes, pajamas?

This is highly individual too. I know some families who never even both with pajamas! Just a week’s worth is all you need. In our house, pajama tops get worn only and pants are for the birds, so the next time I need to get jammies, I plan to just get some plain tees for sleeping.

For shoes, I try to keep two pairs of shoes that fit around per child and in the summer, we also have crocs. For early walkers, only one pair seemed necessary. Socks are a royal pain in the neck, but necessary. Each boy has about 10 pairs and with regular attention to the laundry, the basket never seems empty. I can’t wait for summer when they live in their crocs!

For jackets, we have one proper winter coat per child and 2-3 sweatshirt style zip-up jackets or pullovers.

So my kids won’t wear the clothes I like, they will only wear what they like and that makes this hard.

This is a tricky question because it really comes down to that parent and child relationship. Is a minion t-shirt really the hill you want to die on today? I’ll tell you how we manage this in our house and you can take away from that what you will. On school days, my son gets to put on whatever shirt he wants. He usually wears that favorite shirt for 2 days then I require that it be washed. He has 2-3 of these favorite shirts. Once they are dirty, he’s stuck wearing whatever is clean. On days that we have nicer things to do, I give him the choice of two outfits and he’s learned to just choose one. Having some days where he can pick and having some days where he has to accommodate me is a nice balance for us. It also means that he has free range to run around in his undies on a day where we stay home. Meet your kiddo in the middle if you can because their autonomy is as important as your sanity.

Are you ever going to mention that putting away tip?

I thought you’d never ask!

The best advice for reducing your laundry? Store your kiddo clothing as close to the laundry area as humanly possible. For me, that was moving their clothing into my dresser. For you, it might mean putting some plastic drawers in the laundry room or at least putting most of your laundry away in one room. Now I can fold the clothes and put them away without even resorting to a laundry basket! My dresser is about 6 feet from where I fold my laundry and it’s saved me so much time. It’s actually easier to just put it away than do anything else with it. Imagine that?!

Long ago, I stored their clothing in their rooms and put shirts on hangers. It was like pulling teeth to put everything away and NEVER AGAIN will I make it that hard.

Can you show me what your kid clothing storage looks like?

Here is my dresser drawer with a full winter wardrobe for two. You can see their shirts and pants (both stacked sideways) and their button ups sorta “stretched” along the top where they have room to breathe without too many wrinkles.

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On top of my dresser, I have two little baskets from Target that hold their socks. I place one sock inside of its pair so that I don’t have to find the matching one in the morning. I keep their summer clothes handy in a laundry basket in case the weather is ridiculous. You can see their summer clothing was similar: shorts and t-shirts.

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Here is the area near our doorway. I think it’s called “foyer.” The frame is a coat hook frame from Poppy Tree. We love having our fall family photos displayed. This year, the fabulous Christy Johnson took them. We keep the kiddos’ shoes on a small bench underneath the coat hook. It was a $15 steal from IKEA that I purchased while on a nesting binge while 37 weeks pregnant. You can find it under LACK TV Unit.

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So there you have it. Keep the questions coming in the comments!