Spring inspires us to open the windows, let the breeze and sunshine back into our homes, to freshen our lives. Spring cleaning isn’t just about cleaning up; it’s about cleaning out. Nature’s fresh and simple beauty makes us long to simplify our indoor worlds as well. If your kids’ rooms look more like the Fire Swamps or Pit of Despair than a breezy spring meadow, then this is for you.
Kids can learn how to manage their belongings, and care for them independently. We can help by showing them how, of course. But we can also set our kids up for success by minimizing the amount of stuff in their lives, and their rooms. It’s far easier to keep 10-20 wonderful toys tidy than it is 50-100. The same goes for clothing.
Step 1: Spring Clean your kids’ closets, together!
Involving your child in the clean-out and selection process will increase the chances that what is kept, will be chosen and worn on a regular basis.
Use the following questions with your child, to make sure that whatever you keep:
(a) fits well,
(b) is really liked by your child,
(c) doesn’t irritate or feel uncomfortable in some way undetectable by parents, and
(d) is easy to outfit.
Kids simply won’t choose even the “best quality” or “nicest” pieces in the closet (i.e., those preferred by Mom,) if they have scratchy seams or don’t make him/her feel special. Bag up what no longer works for your family and pass it on to someone in your community, donate it, or trade it in towards pieces you can use now, at your favourite resale store. Resale shops like iSpy Clothing form networks of families, allowing clothes to live a second life, and help you avoid sending textiles to the landfill.
Step 2: Take Stock & Add-On Consciously
Building a hard-working, effective and minimalist wardrobe for kids follows the same principles as capsule wardrobes for adults. After the kind of deep-clean described above, organize your child’s remaining clothes by type, and take stock. Depending on how often you do family laundry, how many pairs of shorts and how many T’s do you want in the closet?
To keep the numbers low, plan a colour scheme that allows you to mix and match. You can learn some fun tips on how to build a kids’ capsule wardrobe using your favourite colour scheme here. Whether you have multiple kids in the family, others you like to pass clothes along to, or simply want to step off the fast-fashion bandwagon, choose items that are well-made and can last through a few children’s use. Buying fewer, better things not only simplifies the act of getting dressed but helps save the environment at the same time.
Helping children learn to see what things “go” not only respects their personal taste; it’s an opportunity to teach colour theory and design — and maybe even some things you’d never imagine. Recently my 10-year-old daughter commented that her favourite t-shirt is “square.” She asked me, “Why are t-shirts for girls so long and skinny? I like square t-shirts better.” We had a great discussion about merchandising of fashion “for boys” and “for girls,” and how silly it is that designers map women’s hourglass body shape onto clothes for girls. This conversation springboarded into many others, in the days that followed, with great learning all around.
This spring, choose fewer, better-made pieces for your kids’ wardrobes, and ensure that they mix-and-match. You’ll find less on the ground, less in the hamper and your child’s independent self-care skills will soar.