The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Dealing With Outgrown Kids' Clothes

4 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.


So you have 28 storage totes of outgrown kid clothes in your garage, organized by gender, size, and possibly also by season. (Or maybe you just chucked it into the totes to organize “later.”) It’s time to make some decisions.

If you work full time, or you’re at home with a high needs newborn or something, maybe you’ll only be able to get through one or two totes today. If you’re a stay at home mom of school-age kiddos, maybe you can finish everything.

No pressure though. This isn’t all or nothing. Something is better than nothing. And ohbytheway, it’s Friday, and you have the whole weekend ahead of you. Time to do this.

Grab 4 Boxes or Crates to Sort Into:
  • Keep – Future Child: This is stuff you still think is really cute, will probably be in style still by the time you have another child, and is in GOOD SHAPE.
  • Keep – Sentimental: These are things you might save for your future grandkids, or maybe just to hold in your hands and smile at the memories they hold for you. They could be a special handmade item, or something worn to a certain memorable occasion.
  • Donate: Perfectly good items only.
  • Trash: Maybe you didn’t realize how worn out or stained it was when you originally stored it!

Some Things to Consider as You Sort

  • Remember how much laundry you did when your kids were babies? Remember how many outfits they had in their closets or dressers that still hadn’t been worn, when the washing machine was FULL of things that HAD been worn? The next kid doesn’t necessarily need 52 spring dresses. Just because something is nice AND in good shape AND timeless doesn’t mean you HAVE to save it for a future child. You can just save your few favorites. Really, kids don’t need the gigantic wardrobes they often end up with. And you’ll be thankful when you have less laundry to wash, fold, organize, and store, and more time to snuggle your baby.
    • Don’t go overboard with the “sentimental” stuff.  You might have a photo of your child wearing it, and that might be enough. And something isn’t necessarily special enough to store and save forever just because so-and-so (including yourself) made it. Sometimes those things are better off passed on to continue being worn by other children until they’re all “used up.” That is a VALID way for handmade items to spend their time on this earth. Remember that you also have the memories IN YOUR HEAD and that you don’t need the clothes to hold those memories for you. You really, truly don’t.
    • When you’re saving things you think your grandkids might wear someday, remember that THEY TOO will have 52 spring dresses as babies, and if you save too many items without clear reasons, they will probably each be dutifully worn once “because grandma needs a picture of this” and then ironed and stored for the next family baby. On the other hand, if you save one really special outfit that was a favorite of your child, or that has a special story, it will probably be cherished and worn frequently by grandkids.
    • No one wants your garbage. Please keep that in mind when making donations. You should only donate perfectly good clothes that are not stained or pilled, faded, or worn out. They should also not be completely out of style. If you’re thinking, “Those people will just be so grateful to have a shirt at all” that’s the wrong way to think about it.”Those people” want their kids to look cute just as much as you do. “Those people” don’t want their kids to LOOK like they were dressed from someone else’s trash. “Those people” are just like you. Oh, and “those people” will probably also see lots of way NICER donations right next to your garbage on the rack at Goodwill (if yours even makes it through the original sorting by the facility) for the same price. Check yourself if you’re thinking like that, and actually throw away your trash. Donate things that people will want.
    • Let it go. If you’re not going to have any more kids (or won’t for a decade or so), you really need to let go. Also, it is not your job to store the cutest items for future kids your non-pregnant siblings or friends might have someday. If you think it’s special enough for someone to want for a future child, offer it to them NOW. If they agree about how perfect it is, THEY will store it until a baby arrives in their life. If they disagree, you just need to set that item free.
    • Trash. Throw it away. Don’t save it to make SOMEthing later, because then you’re just a crazy person saving a box full of trash.

    Now, actually take the donations somewhere. Thrift stores are good options, but women’s shelters often accept children’s clothes too. I’ve also seen foster parents posting on Facebook a lot of times, asking for certain sizes/genders for children they’re taking care of.

    Throw away the trash. Really.

    Store your sentimental items in a special place, and go ahead and sort your future kid clothes by size before storing again. You should have a LOT smaller volume of this stuff now!

    Congratulations! You’ve just helped a lot of people (with quality donations) and freed up a bunch of storage space for your own family. 

    Chime in 

    What’s the strangest piece of clothing (your own or your kids’) that you’ve held on to for forever?
    How about the piece of clothing with the most important story?


    Emily Chapelle is an expert homemaker, having set up six different houses in seven years of military moves. She’s also the mother of two adorable curly-haired kids, wife to a Navy fighter pilot, and a former teacher, childcare provider, and nanny. Now she works from home to spread encouragement and inspiration to other homemakers with a no-nonsense attitude and lots of tough love. She blogs at So Damn Domestic

    Get her free eBook, Finding the Awesome: 3 Steps to Doing More & Stressing Less for more inspiration and guided, broken-down exercises to find your Awesome.

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