One Tiny Home, One Family Closet

Something I've never understood is why Park Model RVs come with such big closets. Generally speaking, they are designed for vacation use by one or two people rather than full-time occupancy, and based on the decor options we had when choosing our home, their demographic is, well, much older than we are and unlikely to have children.

Yet they often are designed with five- or six-foot closets.

As someone who lives in a Park Model full time with three other people, I am grateful for the ample closet space in our home.

At the same time, though, having so much room for clothing makes it easy to let the wardrobe get out of control. Over the years we have pared down on a few different occasions, but most recently we tackled the excess clothing as part of our KonMari process.

That day back in March 2018 when I laid all of my clothes out on our living room couch was eye-opening. It's easy to forget how many outfits you have when you keep it all tucked away in a six-foot closet. I probably had about a dozen pairs of jeans, half of which would never fit my post-baby body again. Some of them I didn't even remember buying! And I've hardly even thought of any of the two large bags of clothing I donated after this purge.

After I pared down my own closet, I tackled the girls' clothes as well, though as I wrote at the time, I didn't really end up getting rid of many items. I loved them all too much!

I wasn't the only one to cull clothes during this decluttering spree, though. Chris sorted through his many t-shirts and jeans and made my job putting away clean laundry a lot easier!

The whole KonMari process was really a bittersweet thing for me, if I'm being honest. And it doesn't end, especially with young kids. I have definitely curtailed my own clothes-buying tendencies quite a bit. I'm slower to purchase items that don't fit perfectly or that I don't absolutely love. And when I find that some of the items in my closet no longer make me happy, I don't usually have too much trouble passing them along. But continuing to deal with my kids' overflowing wardrobes is something else entirely.

Passing Along Outgrown Clothing Items

One of the hardest things for me to part with still are the outgrown clothes. I feel like I've done a pretty good job along the way, but sometimes it's just too hard to part with the small things my babies used to wear, especially as we say goodbye to the idea of having more children. Knowing that Sweetheart is our last makes every size-cleanout feel so sad.

My policy these days when getting rid of outgrown clothes is to sort them into a "maybe" pile and a giveaway pile. The items in the "maybe" pile include things that I know I want to keep along with some items I'm not sure about. Letting myself become a little distanced from the articles in question helps give my mind and heart time to settle on what I really want to hold onto and what I don't need to keep. I store most of these items upstairs in a few drawers and bins in the loft, and I go through them whenever I have a few more keepsake items to add, passing along items that I've had time to decide not to keep.

I also try to be mindful of the people I pass these items along to rather than just dumping a pile of old used clothes on someone who might not want or need them. I always try to check first to see if they need specific items, such a swimsuits or winter coats, and whether they would like a bag full of certain sized clothes. We are blessed to have a few friends/family with girls younger than both of ours, so I often divide up our hand-me-downs into separate bags for them rather than overwhelm any one family with TOO MANY KID CLOTHES! It's much less overwhelming that way and seems kinder to me in the long run.

Passing these items along to other little girls that we get to see wear them helps soothe the ache of not having another child to wear the clothes as well. It always warms my heart to see my cousin's baby wearing something that my girls used to wear, even if I tear up a little each time I set something aside for her. And with the speed my girls grow, that seems to happen more often than I prefer!

Growing Like a Weed

Sunshine seems to be made of bamboo at times with how quickly she grows, and after a number of large expenses last year, I found myself wondering how in the world we were going to afford to outfit her for the coming season.

Enter the family garage sale.

And then WALK AWAY!

No, seriously, this may save you money, yet simultaneously get you into a lot of trouble. (Ask me how I know...)

My cousin has three girls: two are older than Sunshine and one is younger. The oldest two have very different taste in clothes, and between two moves and diverging preferences, my cousin had a LOT of clothes to pawn off at this garage sale last fall while still managing to save plenty of things for her youngest child.

But first she said we could take whatever we wanted.

I seriously think we took most of what was available in Sunshine's size. Despite my commitment to pare down on clothing purchases in the future to avoid ending up with far more clothes than either of my girls could ever need...well...oops, we did it again. (Because it was FREE! And Sunshine LOVED ALL THE CLOTHES! Oh boy...)

I am so grateful for the influx of items for Sunshine to wear at just the time when we needed them, but her drawer is VERY full.

And less than a year later, she needs new pants again. (Bamboo, people. I'm telling you!)

Ultimately, I would love to cut my girls' wardrobes back a little, but I have found that a lot easier said than done when we are surrounded by generous people who love to pass along adorable outfits. It's definitely a work in progress.

Clothes Storage

So where do we store everything? We've had a number of iterations over the years.

When it was just the two of us, Chris took one side of the closet and I took the other, and we shared the built-in drawers in the middle.

When Sunshine came along, we redid the bedroom as a nursery and put in a small chest of drawers and a cube unit with bins to hold her clothing. We also bought some wall shelves that we could put hangers on for her tiny outfits. We added drawers to our "linen closet" (which is really just a deep cupboard by our front door) and moved Chris's work clothes there and some of his other things to a cube unit at the top of our stairs.

Then when I was pregnant with Sweetheart, we moved a full height chest of drawers into the bedroom and put the small one on top of it (safely secured to the wall!). This held all of their clothes until Sweetheart outgrew her mini-crib around her first birthday and we had to get rid of the dressers to make room for the bigger bed.

At that point, we got serious about fitting the girls' clothes into the closet. We updated the closet with more drawers in place of some of the hanging space (folded clothes take up much less room than hanging ones!) and purged and rearranged until it all fit, stuffed in with no room to spare. But it worked, more or less.

What was really life-changing for us in regards to our closet was going through the KonMari process, though. Once we did that, it all fit with room to spare. We even have a whole drawer with no clothes in it, which is amazing to me to think about. It feels really good to not be drowning in clothes.

So that's how we finally managed to fit most of our clothes into one well-designed closet. Sure, it involved a few minor modifications, but that wasn't what really made it possible.

It was changing our relationship with clothes. We (clearly) still have more than we need and probably even more than we want. But now we know how good it feels to simplify our wardrobes, and that knowledge had totally changed our decisions about what clothing items we choose to bring into our home.

Except for Sunshine. Because clearly between her and me, our ability to turn down free clothing could use some work!

This post was written for inclusion in the June 2019 collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series. And if there is a topic you'd like to see us write about, let us know! 

Little Bungalow--  "Drawers Open: Kids' Clothes" : Saving my sanity (and laundry quarters) living with a little girl who loves to dress up.

Deeper Meaning Travels-- "Living Small & Clothing" : See how this full-time RV and roadschooling family lives small, when it comes to clothing.