52 Weeks: #26 How Much is Enough?

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Happy Canada Day!!

And a huge congratulations for reaching the half way mark, today is week #26….woohoo!!!

So a question I seem to get frequently has to do with how much someone should have of something.   Most often it has to do with kid’s clothing and how many pants, shirts, socks, onesies, etc is the recommended number.  They usually tell me that they have so many clothes for their kids that the drawers aren’t closing or they are stacked in boxes and they are fed up.  And in that sentence they pretty much answer the question for themselves don’t they?  It’s almost like they need some reassurance though that it’s okay to part with some of it.  Someone to tell them that it’s the right thing to do.  Guilt sure is an ugly beast isn’t it?

credit: Mark.Pilgrim

So here is what I would tell them.  It’s earth shattering, are you ready for it?

There is no magic number and there is no ideal.  There is no lightening that will strike you down for keeping eight pairs of pants as opposed to five.  It just all depends on your circumstances and no one can determine that but you.

What I always suggest though is that you pay attention to that inner voice that screams out in frustration every time you try to put the clothes away and they don’t fit the space or every time your child dumps a drawer looking for a particular shirt.  If that voice is telling you enough is enough already, PAY ATTENTION. The right number will be totally unique for your family and the space you have available.  It just doesn’t matter what Mary Jane down the street is doing or what some expert somewhere says because the bottom line is this.  This is your life.

It’s not the ones who have all the space in the world with no frustration to speak of that are emailing me.  Nope, it’s those that are overwhelmed with trying to organize all the clothes that they think they should have or want to keep but just don’t have the space to do it.  That’s when the decisions get difficult and they are looking for some guidelines to make it a little easier to decide.  I get that.  So here’s what I do to take the guess work out of it for myself.

I set boundaries and limits with the space I have available.

For instance, let’s take my 5 year old son’s clothes.  I have a dresser for him with four drawers.  The top one needs to hold his socks/underwear and pjs.  The next drawer holds his pants, the one after that his shirts and the bottom drawer holds his shorts in summer and sweaters in winter.  So in our house it’s not about the number, it’s about the space.  I have no idea how many pairs of pants my son has (I’ve never stopped to add them up) but I do know that his one pants drawer, which I have established as the limit, closes for me nicely.  That’s how I keep track of how much is enough.  It’s as simple as that.

How about you?  Do you know how much is enough?  And if not, what limits and boundaries can you put in place to provide you with a daily visual reminder?

Enjoy the long weekend everyone!!!!

Please feel free to share your organizing journey and encourage one another in the comments. You are also invited to link up to the linky below with any posts related to your 52 weeks of organizing participation or to any post of an organizing nature that you feel will inspire and encourage others in their quest to get organized. Please remember to link back to here though so we can reach out to as many people as possible in need of some inspiration.

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36 Responses to 52 Weeks: #26 How Much is Enough?

  1. 1
    Rachel says

    This is something that I definitely have on my mind. My 5yr old is about to start school and we are buying uniform. My neighbour’s son is also starting at the same time and we have differing ideas on how many sets of clothing the boys will need. My son will need more than hers as he has special needs and is not yet reliably toilet trained so will need a spare set at school whereas her boy would not.
    Regarding kids clothes normally I go for about a weeks worth so that if we went away we didn’t need to wash. It’s a learning curve though, we had far too many clothes for the first couple of years and I realised that he was hardly wearing some things before they were outgrown. My second son has significantly fewer as a result.

  2. 2
    Shannon says

    Happy Canada Day!

    That is how I’ve been approaching my daughter’s clothes – when they don’t fit in the drawer anymore, it’s time for something to go…and usually she has outgrown most of them so we get to start all over again…

  3. 3
    Kimberly says

    This is how I need to approach my daughters clothing. We don’t use a dresser…instead she has bins that we use instead of a dresser (which poses a problem on how to deal with how much to keep in and of itself). I think this will be added to my organization to do list! I try to get all her clothing that doesn’t fit out of the house in a timely manner, so that isn’t our problem, she just has TOO many clothing!

  4. 4
    Karyn says

    Dear Laura

    I often keep your advice in mind about keeping to the space you have available and finding a way to fit in. I love that it can be a fun puzzle to solve instead of a frustration! I’m gonna buy your book – I think its great that we can get to know more about someones character through a blog like this before buying a book (sounds strange, I know but it important to me 🙂 love, Karyn

  5. 5
    Catherine says

    This is exactly what I do. I used to always be looking for ways to squeeze more storage in everywhere (seriously, my husband used to joke I should be a boat designer) when it finally dawned on my to set a space limit and only keep what fits. I don’t know how many pants/shirts my kids have either but they can only have as many as will fit in their drawers (same goes for me and my husband).

    • 5.1
      Allyson @ A Heart for Home says

      We strive to only keep the amount of clothing that will fit in one medium sized bin or cardboard box. We have a bin for each gender in each size. If it doesn’t fit, something has to go until the container closed easily. Our three (soon to be four) are all under five so it is fairly easy to fit more than enough clothes in a bin that size. As the clothing gets larger we may have to come up with a different solution.

      Right now we have three bags of hand-me-down clothing that needs to get sorted into our bins before we move. What we don’t love will get passed on to other friends, neighbors, etc.

      Sometimes saving clothing for the next child is a little time consuming up front, but the amount of money we’ve saved is well worth it. This past year we purchased our first article of clothing for our four year old daughter. We spent around $5 on a package of new underwear, other than that all of our children’s clothing has come as hand-me-downs or gifts. Because we’ve been blessed so much with clothing for our children it makes us more than happy to pass that blessing on to others.

  6. 7
    RadiomomRhetoric says

    I struggle with this each year and I have found what works for me-with 4 kids.
    I give them 5 outfits for the summer. Complete outfits. I stash the rest of the extras away.

    They are not in school, they are outside playing most of the time–and most of the time the boys are sporting a swimsuit for jumping in and out of the pool. Nobody notices that they weare the same stuff, or at least they don’t SAY it to me! 🙂 If something gets stained or worn out–I go to their stash and pull out something new to replace it with!

    It saves me from having to do more laundry than necessary! I have found if I give my kids ACCESS to clothing–they will change any time they feel like it. When I limit the amount of clothing they have access to-it saves me lots of work!!

    • 7.1
      Sarah says

      I love this idea!

    • 7.2
      Karen (Scotland) says

      This sounds similar to what I do for my four kids. I prefer complete outfits to piles of shorts/jeans/tops as they (and my husband) never seem to get the outfits right. Each outfit gets hung on a hanger and that’s it. If I don’t iron the few clothes in the basket, we don’t have clothes.

      Also, I put it into a time equation. I explain to the kids the more time I spend doing laundry, the less time I have to play with them…


    • 7.3
      tawna says

      THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! What an excellent idea! I just realized that it may be the 5 million possible outfit combos that make getting my kids dressed a HUGE ordeal! I am so going through all of their clothes tomorrow! YAY! My kids go through clothes like crazy so I LOVE the bin of extras kept out of their reach!

      • tawna says

        Just wanted to report back to say I actually followed through! With all the laundry caught up it was much easier to see exactly what clothes the kids had. I did my 4 yr old daughter’s clothes first. I took everything out of the drawers, sorted it, got rid of anything I didn’t love, made outfits & made her try them on! I picked about 10 outfits (some nicer and some for daycare) because we need both jeans and shorts here – even though it is supposedly summertime! It was brutal but so worth it! I think I got rid of about 70% of her clothes! (She has 2 older girl cousins so LOTS of hand me downs and a mama and grandma who love to yard sale and shop thrift stores) I put things back- as outfits- and showed it to her. I think this will be much easier for both of us!

        My 7 yr old son’s stuff was much easier! Took out the dirty clothes crammed in the drawers 🙂 and then just a little organizing and trying stuff on and he was good to go!

        Now on to me and hubbys clothes….

  7. 8
    Gabe says

    I have learned to limit my kids’ clothes to the space we have. Baby #7 is due in just about two months, so we have A LOT of kids clothes in our house! Each of my kids has ONE drawer in a dresser to store socks, underwear, PJ’s and clothes (though my girls hang most of their clothes). Sunday and Errand day clothes are hung in my closet to make sure they are not worn on other days and so that I can see that they are set and ready to go. My kids don’t really need many clothes (except the little ones, they need a few back-ups), they wear clothes until they are dirty, THEN we wash. That could be one day, or it could be three. This helps reduce the amount of time we have to spend on laundry, and the amount of clothing we need to have!

    As far as storage goes…. One bin per size, thats it. If it does not fit in the bin something has to go. I have bins for sizes newborn through 12 years! I do have separate bins for Winter PJs, summer PJs and swimsuits. These things seem to have a life of their own and need to be pulled out at different times.

  8. 9
    Michelle says

    What a fabulous topic! And so timely for me ….

    With four children, we have a LOT of clothes. And we get a TON of hand-me-downs (for which I am so grateful!) But sometimes we just have TOO MUCH!! And I struggle with knowing how much to save from the older children to the younger ones.

    I think I’ll just set limits based on space. What fits in your drawers. One storage bin for each “out of current” size. It will be a relief to not have so much STUFF cluttering up our home!

  9. 10
    Marcia Francois, Organising Queen says

    I do exactly the same and people look at me like I’m strange when I say, “both babies’ clothes has to fit in their chest of drawers” (we call “dressers” chests of drawers here) 🙂

    I do the same with filing – I have only so many files and when they’re full, it’s time to weed out. I don’t even wait sometimes; I just toss 🙂

  10. 11
    Megan says

    For my kids, less is better. I have to do the laundry more consistently and they have to care for their clothes more. I also have limits placed on me by drawer space.
    My kids have about 6 bottoms and 8-9 tops each. My daughter has a 3 or 4 dresses too. That’s it.
    We live at the beach so they each have 3 swim suits too.

    People pass clothes on to me by the truckload, but I always tell them that I cannot use it all and I will pass some of it along.

  11. 12
    Marsha Seiberling says

    boy, my grandkids have way too many clothes!! I think what they have in the chest of drawers here at my house is more than enough. I have a 4 drawer chest of drawers and each of the 4 grandchildren (the ones that stay overnight) have their own drawer for clothes.
    I’m working on paring my own clothes down simply because I have less hanging space in this house. However, my hubby won’t budge of getting rid of clothes—-in the 6 or so years we’ve been together there are clothes still hanging that he’s NEVER worn!!
    My mom needs help….she has a clothes rack in the hallway, clothes in the hall closet, clothes in her closet and 2 clothes racks in her room!! She pretty much wears the same clothing over and over. We are slowly working on getting her to donate some of her clothing—-or I will take it and turn it in to quilts.

  12. 13
    Karen (Scotland) says

    My boys have 2 x 50cm poles and one 50cm drawer each. The drawer is for pants, socks, vest and PJs.
    The top pole is for school/nursery uniform and a party outfit. The other pole has maybe 6 or 7 hangers with one outfit each hanging from it. I have cut back a bit more and sometimes two Tshirts hang with one jeans/shorts as the jeans can last a couple of days.
    The bottom drawer is for “storage” of the non-season stuff or clothes they are JUST about to fit into.

    Although we have way more space in their room (and, in fact, there is an empty three drawer wide chest of drawers sitting there just now!), I choose to keep it simple and keep their clothes limited.

    My girls, on the other had….
    A big cousin and friends with slightly older girls mean we have hand-me-downs galore. My little girl does seem to get pleasure from selecting her clothes (unlike the boys who just don’t care) so I’m happy to let this situation continue for a while.

    Karen (Scotland)

  13. 14
    Sinea Pies says

    You are oh so right. Our 22 year old is a pack rat. Lots of new things come in, nothing leaves! You’d think between me and his organized girlfriend, Shauna, that we’d be able to break Zak of the habit but it’s not working. Everyone has to draw boundaries and say “goodbye” to some stuff!

  14. 15
    Fern says

    I also use one other criteria when it comes to how much clothes–how often am I willing to do laundry? I would rather we all have plenty of underwear and socks than have to worry that we will run out before I get laundry done.

  15. 16
    ananda says

    Hi there Laura, Happy Canada Day! Would love to visit your country one day! I am , like yourself amazed at this issue in some of my friends. I learned with my oldest son (now 7) that they grow out of their clothes way too fast! We gave away so many sets of brand new clothes, it broke my heart! I do laundry every day, therefore there is always enough clothes available. If there is not enough, the dirty washing did not end up in the washing machine (not my fault ; )) or I did not do laundry (my fault)! It is easy to fall in the trap of just getting and getting! Therefore we limit the amounts to one on the body, one in the washing, one in the cupboard and one for just-because! If grandma or friends pass something on bonus! That works for us! Also good opportunity for establishing contentment, responsibility and consequences for our actions! Thanks for your help organising!

  16. 17
    Barb says

    Clothes are a big issue for us too. I get stuck in the process of putting clothes that we don’t use or that are too small out of the house. The tote might sit around for a month or two, and in that time, it is time to go thru clothes again.

  17. 18
    S. Davis says

    One problem for me, is as they get older & grow (1 going into middle school in the fall), much less of the item will fit in the drawers – most especially long pajama pants, jeans & P.E. pants for winter. 2 or 3 is all that will fit, but not going to get us through a week!

  18. 19
    [email protected] Made Fun says

    One in one out…that’s the way we do everything here. My kids are so used to it that when a new outfit/dress comes, they already have in their mind {especially my daughter} what she’s going to give away. She even has a friend we give the clothes to and loves seeing her friend in her old clothes 🙂

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  19. 20
    Teresa McNamara says

    I’ve completely fallen off the organising wagon. May I blame two sprained ankles and fractured tibia? Anyway, I’m walking un-aided now and can get around most places so your post about getting rid of what I couldn’t store really resonated with me because we have clothes and clothes and clothes and I’m and steadily working on eliminating what we don’t wear and what doesn’t fit.

  20. 21
    Kristi says

    Thank you for hosting these link parties! I’m not sure I’m doing the 52 weeks plan right now, but reading your blog (and everyone who links up to it) has inspired me to get started on my kitchen! Organization here I come!

    Thanks again!

  21. 22
    Cindy @ Celebrated House says

    Your timing of this topic could not have been better for me. I have been working with a friend who has three little boys and her home is cluttered with children’s clothes of every stage imaginable. This should help her to see she needs to tackle the excess if she ever hopes to be organized.

  22. 23
    Lisa says

    When we were stone broke I still made sure everyone had TWO WEEKS of undies and socks. We had “at home” socks–all the mismatched ones for cold feet at nightin the woods or snow. School clothes–I quit bothering to buy my daughter dresses in about 2nd grade. They were never worn–even to Church. If she needed something for a funeral or other event like that I borrowed or shopped the Clearance Rack. I simplified my work wardrobe to a) WASHABLE only, b) khaki or black slacks, one pair navy one pair brown or “other” color of the moment to be paired with season-appropriate office-appropriate blouses, sweaters, tops. It got so bad I had ONE pair of black shoes, one of brown!!! Thankfully we survived those years and it was a great lesson in “need” vs “want.” An even better lesson though were the BAGS and BAGS of never-worn or barely-worn clothing people brought when I adopted my kids. Boy was that a a great eye-opener in just how much they’d wear!!!!!

  23. 24
    Colleen P. says

    Oooh this is a good one-I’ve found that I’ve had to limit my almost-14-year-old sons clothing purchases lately because he’s growing so fast. I’ve bought clothes 2 or 3 times since Christmas, so unless he really needs something I’m limiting him to 4 outfits for the time being. I bought a load of things in February and most of them just went to Goodwill having hardly been worn at all. I’m pleased someone will get some very nice nearly new clothes, but I had hoped they’d fit a lot longer. I’m also only purchasing one pair of shoes at a time unless he specifically needs a certain type, again because the feet are growing so fast (4 sizes in six months!) and he now wears adult sizes so they’ve gone way up in price.

  24. 25
    Living the Balanced Life says

    A suggestion for helping to clear it all out. Go thru the drawers when the dirty laundry basket is full. This means that typically what is liked and fits is being worn. Go thru what is left with the rest of it out makes it easier. You can then check for things that maybe “should” be gotten rid of as you put the clean clothes away.
    The successful woman’s guide to NOT doing it all


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