A few weeks ago, I was trying some of Norah's old sandals onto Avril's feet and as you can see, they were a bit too big for her. That much excess sandal past the tip of her toes will get caught on the ground and trip her over and over again as she runs around this summer. So I knew she would need a  smaller pair of sandals and since Norah never had a pair of sandals in the smaller size Avril needs, I would have to buy Avril a brand new pair for $10-20 dollars...

Bummer! since I saved all of Norah's old clothes and shoes that weren't too worn or stained in hopes that I would be able to reuse them with the next girl as she grew into them. But, it doesn't always work out, as in this case. Shoes have to fit well. For most things, like clothes, it doesn't really matter if things don't fit perfectly (so long as the season of the clothing fits the season outside) so it's usually in my best interest to save clothes to see if I can re-use them.

Note: These sandals will go back into a large Tupperware filled with Norah's old shoes and if Avril's foot happens to grow large enough by the end of the summer, these sandals will be waiting on her. If her feet don't grow fast enough, the sandals won't get used at all and they will have to wait for the next girl to come along before they get another chance to be re-worn.

In reusing clothes, I have had to develop a whole system of Tupperwares in our house to hold the stuff the girls aren't wearing, all labeled for certain sizes, all stored in their bedroom closets or in the storage/ laundry room downstairs. 

Right now, the Tupperware for clothes sizes birth to 3 months is almost totally empty since those clothes are waiting for the baby in the baby's dresser. There is one piece of clothing in the 0-3 month Tupperware and it's a snow suit. And, obviously, that piece of clothing won't be needed for this coming season, so it just lives in that Tupperware so as not to take up space in the dresser. That Tupperware lives in the baby's closet currently (see photo below), waiting to receive the pieces of clothing in that size as soon the baby outgrows them. The next Tupperwares for sizes 3-6 months and 6-9 are full of old, clean clothes, and they are also in the baby's closet so I can start adding those clothes into the baby's dresser as soon as the baby is big enough to wear them and as she outgrows the clothes in the smaller sizes and needs more pieces of clothing to wear.

If the clothes aren't anywhere near one of the girls' current size, they live in their respective Tupperware downstairs in our storage room and out of the way till they are needed again. Here is a photo of the Tupperware with the clothes Avril just outgrew "2T" and those she hasn't grown into just yet "Larger 4T."  Note: The clothes I call "smaller 4T" are in her dresser with 3T clothes right now and she's wearing them.

With three kids to clothe now, this process of saving clothes has gotten pretty complicated. I can't just throw the clothes Norah is done with into a black garbage bag and throw it in the storage room till Avril needs them. And I can't stuff Avril's old clothes into a bag for the baby and hope that I find that particular bag in time for the baby to wear that size, either. My life is too busy for that sort of disorganization.  Avril is constantly growing and if Norah's old clothes aren't already labeled and collected for me, Avril would probably outgrow them before I got around to finding the right trash bag with Norah's old clothes of the right sizes in it and then sorting through it to get out the pieces that match the current season of the year.

So I've had to develop this system of clothing storage for myself. And it's always being tweaked. I had to find a way to make saving clothes work efficiently. I am always handling clothes because of the laundry I do. And my girls are always growing, the seasons are always changing and clothes are constantly becoming obsolete or necessary again. So the system of re-using clothes had to "blend in" to my already busy days and be as easy to manage as an extra basket or two of laundry at any given time. And so far, my system is working alright.  For instance, one of Norah pairs of size 8 jeans are smaller than the other pairs for some reason. (Just like adult brands of clothes, one brand of kids clothes will be smaller than another, even if they share the same number size.) So those size 8 jeans got "too tight"quicker than the other size 8s that are in her drawer. With this system in place, I just pulled those tighter jeans out of the clean laundry, folded them and put them in the right Tupperware. And now those jeans are out of Norah's dresser, so she doesn't have to waste time putting them on to remember they are "too small."

I even have a Tupperware for clothes that don't fit my oldest, Norah, yet since I shop at thrift stores and often find it necessary to grab items when I find them even if they won't fit for a few more months. Notice the Tupperware labeled "10 medium and up" below. This is holding long sleeves shirts and jeans that Norah will use this coming winter, etc. As I collect them from the thrift store, I bring them home, wash, fold and put them in there for later.

I was telling another stay-at-home-mom-friend about how difficult saving and reusing clothes can be and she agreed and added that this is the kind of "hidden" work is what makes motherhood harder than any of us ever imagined it would be. I'm sure some people would read this post and think, "Why doesn't she just get rid of all the old clothes, save herself the trouble and buy everything her kids need when they need it?"

As a stay at home mom, I don't have to pay a daycare to care for my kids but I also forfeit having any extra income a job would provide. And, while taking care of my children is my main job, in doing that myself, Dwayne and I don't make the money we'd need to buy all new things for all our kids every season. Not that the families who have both parents working have the money to do buy everything new with every kid, either, but even more so it has become my "job within my job" to find ways to save money on things like clothes and shoes. I always tell myself that it's my job to save the money my husband makes, not to find ways to spend it like most people assume housewives do because of the wealthier, sillier ones on television. With that in mind, even something as mundane as storing clothes in Tupperwares becomes really significant. When I consider that it means I am making it easier for us to afford the ability to allow me to stay home and care for my kids myself, it makes the work of organizing it all worth the effort.


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