Friday, October 26, 2007

The Great Seasonal Clothes Swap

Oh, how the kids LOVE the Great Swap. It's like Christmas! Of course, it's a full-day event, with the organization before and laundry after, and the fashion show all during. It takes place twice a year, all over the whole house! Each child has their own "dressing room" and sorts in there, modeling the clothes they try on with great flourish (for my inspection and their sisters' oooohs and aaaaahhhs).

Having four girls but only one boy, my son is usually exempt from the Great Swap. He always wears the same thing - T shirts and jeans - no matter what the weather. He adds a hoodie in spring and fall and a jacket in the winter (although we haven't needed our jackets since moving to the south at ALL.) And at school he wears a uniform, making his entire wardrobing a very simple process.

The night before the Great Swap, I do ALL the kids' laundry and they wear something to bed that they will keep for the next season. We empty out closets and post "area cards" in the dressing rooms. Area cards say things like "I can wear these," "These are too small, "These are too big," "Yuck," "Try these on," "For my closet," etc. When I had pre-readers, I'd make drawings on the cards so they could do most of the sorting themselves.

Each child here has two totes. One "NOW," one "SOON." "NOW" is full of clothes they can wear now, (yes, a wordsmith I am with the labelmaker,) the right size regardless of season. "SOON" is full of clothes that will be the right size for them eventually. The only things they may keep in their totes are the clothes they truly love. If big sister passes down something little sister doesn't like, she passes it down and down and down until someone grabs it. If no one grabs it, it goes to Goodwill.

The morning of the Great Swap, I put the contents of the "NOW" boxes in the "Try these on" and the clean laundry and clothes from their closets in the "For my closet" area in each dressing room. The same one-in-one-out rule applies to our totes as does to our closets. If you grab something new, something old goes. In their closet, the girls each have room for five play outfits, one church outfit, one extra-grungy and two PJs. Everything else goes in the totes. The totes' lids have to snap shut. All excess goes to Goodwill.

When this season's outfits are chosen, I add dots to the labels to identify the owner. Oldest girl=1 dot, son=2 dots, next oldest=3 dots and down the list. Then all that's left is wash and hang it all!

We're particularly blessed that the garage where the totes live is one door from the girls' basement bedroom! They are NOT allowed to get into the totes unsupervised, but if something rips or becomes unwearable, getting out a new outfit doesn't require a trip to the attic or worse.

Although I would dearly love to live in a place where the Grand Seasonal Clothing Swap is done on Memorial and Labor Day weekends, it never quite turns out that way. Here it is, the end of September, and our weather is still in the 90's. As I pass the totes in the garage, I lovingly look at all the "SOON" labels staring at me and thinking, "Yes, please!"

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