Monday, December 18

Maximize Your Child’s Wardrobe During Seasonal Change

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While the northern hemisphere prepares to put away their winter wear in preparation for the warmer summer months, we here in the southern hemisphere are doing the exact opposite.

Living here in southern Queensland, Australia, we experience relatively stable seasons. Therefore it’s not uncommon that particular clothes worn for one season are not needed again until the following year.

As adults, the uncomplicated approach to a new season can simply involve resurrecting the previous year’s items, and rearranging these items to the front of your wardrobe. Any changes to particular items are generally dictated more by fashion or personal preference than by ‘fit’ (unless of course we have gained or lost a few kilos!).

Now when it comes to growing children, the change of season often dictates a totally different approach. Depending on the individual child and their age, they’ll grow at different rates from one year to the next. The impact of this growth on an existing wardrobe, can range anything from the requirement for a ‘part’ modification (where most items still ‘fit’), up to, and including the situation where a ‘complete overhaul’ is in order (where virtually everything has been outgrown).

Particularly where the latter situation is the case, one of the first reactions to this sudden realization can be panic and stress (especially if you’re the parent who’s responsible for finding, and financing these ‘modifications’).

So ‘BEFORE’ pulling out your credit card, and rushing out on a panic shopping spree with your child / children, here are 5 practical tips to consider to save both your purse and your sanity:

1. INVEST THE TIME to go through each child’s existing wardrobe. If the idea of this task is stressful for either party, consider breaking it down into smaller manageable parts. (I.e. concentrate on one child’s wardrobe at a time, and/or break the exercise up over several sessions or days. E.g. Spend 15-30 minutes per session going through a particular section. Perhaps jumpers 1 session, and long pants the next etc.)

2. AVOID GUESSING whether an item fits or not. This includes ‘calculated guesswork’ which is the exercise of ‘holding an item’ up against the body. If it’s been several months since a child has worn an article of clothing, take the time to physically get them to TRY EACH ITEM ON. You’ll be amazed at how much more accurate your assessment will be by basing your judgments on practical testing and not calculated guesswork.

3. If you have children of the same sex, consider WORKING THROUGH THEIR WARDROBES FROM OLDEST TO YOUNGEST. Working in this manner means that ‘pre-loved’ or outgrown items from an older sibling can be passed down to the younger siblings and included in the items they will try on, along with their existing wardrobe. The benefits of this exercise are two-fold: 1. Younger siblings can find themselves with an ‘instant brand new’ (to them) wardrobe. 2. Minimizing the requirements for any one child’s wardrobe can result in a significant saving in time and money.

4. KEEP ONLY THOSE ITEMS you (and particularly your child), feel confident your child will wear. Depending on the age, personality and maturity of your child, if your child appears uncomfortable wearing a particular item, ask ‘them’ to consider if they feel they will wear it or not. If the answer is a resounding ‘no’, or their body language relays the same message, seriously consider removing that item from their wardrobe. No matter how much attachment another person may have to an article of clothing, if the person to whom it belongs is not going to wear it, the truthful fact is, it’s likely to end up taking space and energy in a cupboard. Learning to respect your child’s preferences and choices is an exercise that long term will not only save you heartache, but save your well-earned money as well.

5. SELL OR DONATE items of clothing that can’t be used by immediate family members or relatives. Occasionally there may be an article that has particular sentimental value that you may wish to retain as a ‘keepsake’. However for the most part, clothing serves its purpose when it is being worn and used. If an article is no longer being used within its current location, why not allow another individual to experience this pleasure. Not only is it a wonderful feeling to be able to give something to someone else, — it can be also be an extremely liberating feeling to not only clear your physical space, but also clear the emotional energy attached to holding onto something that is not fulfilling its purpose.

Although the above tips require an investment of your time and energy at the outset, you’ll be well rewarded for your efforts in both the short and long term. Armed with accurate information about your child’s existing wardrobe well before you part with a single cent, will help to ensure that when you ‘do’ shop, you’re investing your time and money into the most appropriate and needed items for that particular child.

And as an added bonus, remember our children are children for such a short time. So why not take advantage of this opportunity when going through their wardrobes –- celebrate the fit of your child’s clothes as a measure of their growth from the previous year!

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