Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tips for the Multitude: Taming the Clothing Monster

I have 9 (almost 10) kids.

And they are all REALLY close in age, and therefore size.

When I first married my husband, it was pretty easy to keep track of whose clothes belonged to whom.  I knew my own kids' clothes, and his 4 kids were all different sizes and thus easily sorted.

Then, as kids often do, they grew.

About a year ago I found myself confused about who had passed down which clothes, and I wasn't the only one!  The kids forgot what passed on or they thought that something would always belong to them even though they had grown out of it (mostly the younger set) and get all upset when a sibling was wearing what they thought was theirs.

I was frustrated.  They were frustrated.

So I came up with a system.

The Dot System.  (I can't be creative all the time...)

I thought some of you out there might also benefit from this system, so I'm here to share!

Here's how it works.

The oldest child of each gender gets one dot, adding one dot as you go down the line within the gender.  Generally speaking it's pretty easy to separate boys vs girls clothing.  (If you find there's a problem with a certain thing, say, jeans, you can either add a gender symbol on the tag or embroider a stripe of color to help you remember.)  You put the determined amount of dots on the tag or hem of each garment with a black permanent marker.  Nothing is exempt, though I try to be discreet with the dots.  Shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, even underwear and socks.  Sometimes it even goes to winter clothes and swimsuits depending on how confused we are.  Once everything is properly labeled, it's easy to sort!

Time to pass on the wardrobe to the next "generation"?  Easy peasy! Just add another dot, and you're ready to go.

So here's what it looks like right now in my house: (Stars represent dots)

* Elizabeth
** Julie
*** Katie
**** Mallie
***** Lorelai

* Kael
*** Layton
**** Joseph

This system has stood the test of time and several size changes. Joseph is a recent addition to the system, just because it was pretty easy to determine what was his until his socks needed to be bigger.  I still don't mark anything else.  But it sure saves me with the three older girls, the three older boys, and the two littler girls!  Whose is it? Check the dots! Wrong number?  Add one (or two)!  They can't argue with the dots like they can with size numbers.

Oh, and let me tell you, it saved Christmas!!  The kids ALL received new jammas, socks, and underwear, and a lot of it was VERY similar.  Even the jammies needed it, because I do not have the brainpower at this point to remember who received which ones. Solution? Dot them! Right out of the packages!  It went something like this: "Ooh! New underwear! Cool! Here, Mom."  Dot dot dot dot dot... "All yours!"  And then the socks and underwear were strewn all over the room.  No worries, just check the dots!  4 dots on something pink? Mallie!  3 dots on something navy blue or superhero? Layton! 2 dots on something boyish? Tristan! 1 dot on something frilly? Kael! No, I'm kidding. Elizabeth!  No worry, no stress.

There you have it! The dot system for keeping track of clothes in a large family.  Do you think it will work for you?  Any questions? Suggestions for improvement? Let me know in the comments!


AZSongbird said...

Your dot system is brilliant! So glad you found something that works.

Marc and Liz Anson said...


Lovindmutts said...

This is absolutely brilliant!!!