(written in May 2009)
A few weeks ago, DH & I were at Payless Shoes during their BOGO sale. When we found a nice pair of all-brown gender-neutral shoes for less than six dollars, we began searching the shelves for the same shoe in other sizes (our school requires all brown or all black shoes). We were stacking the boxes five or six high when a sales lady came and gave us a funny look.
"We have seven kids," we said.
The light when on, and she began helping us look. Size 12, 13, 1, 2, 3, 4, how about 13 1/2?
We left the store with over ten pairs of shoes, two or three of which will be used now. The rest will be saved for next year, or the next, or the next. With seven kids, at some point, the shoes are bound to fit SOMEONE.
Here's where the shoes go, for now, lined up in order of size:
I've also got several boxes, not shown, of used-but-still-okay shoes, mostly sorted by size.
I like to buy early and buy on sale. I'm always looking for a clothing deal and I buy in advance. If I stay on top of it, our clothing budget stays reasonable and my kids always have clothes, shoes, and coats to wear. If I forget, like I did once in the fall when the weather turned cold and I realized I had five kids who had outgrown their coats, then I'm stuck paying whatever price the stores want to charge (that time? $150). I've since stocked up on coats ($5 or $6 each on clearance) and keep them lined up by size in the closet of our spare room.
In our old home, when we didn't have a storage space, I'd keep a box on the floor in each bedroom closet labeled, "Outgrown." In the boys' room, I had a box labeled, "Between Joey and Micheal," another labeled "For Joey to grow into," and a third for clothes outgrown by Michael. In the girls' room, I had four boxes, one of clothes the twins had outgrown and one for things they could grow into soon, and the same for Lillian. The box for outgrown clothes I kept fairly accessible so I could simply toss an item in anytime I found it no longer fit or was out of season and was going to be too small by the time it was in season again.
I don't save every item; my standard is if I wouldn't buy it if I saw it at a thrift shop, then I give it away.
At my current home, I'm blessed to have a nice storage room, with shelves for our outgrown clothes. Now I sort it all by size and by gender. I have three shelves. The top is for uniform clothes, the middle for girl clothes, the bottom for boy clothes. For gender neutral shorts and jeans, I try to just put the item in the gender of the child who will fit into it next. So, for instance, size 5 shorts Michael's outgrown go in the Girls 5T box.
It doesn't always look this nice, but since I just did the spring clothing shuffle, it's pretty organized.
How do you handle the clothing shuffle?