Pre-children, I had never thought about how much time and money it takes to outfit a growing child each season.
Now that I have limited closets, a small budget, and a penchant for shopping at thrift stores and collecting hand-me-downs, it was a recipe for a huge mess
. . .no winter coat, but three spring jackets. . .no socks, but five pairs of sneakers. . . .
To stop the chaos, I created a notebook. I labeled the pages with the age, size, and season of each of my children (Ben, summer 2010, size 2T). I divided each page into six categories: tops, bottoms, Sunday, outerwear, pajamas, and shoes. I started two years ago and didn't bother with the stuff already in storage. Then I gradually started cataloguing what I had and as new batches of hand-me-downs came in, I jotted them down and passed on duplicates.
I try to remember to cross off the items that I hand to friends, but don't always remember. Nor do I always remember to add the things I acquire, so it's not a totally reliable record.
However, I carry my notebook when I go thrifting, so that at least I have a chance of knowing if I should invest in a winter coat two sizes up for Genevieve or if she already has one waiting in storage (my dad generously insisted we use some of his garage for storage - I really don't have much closet space in my house).
This whole process is a blessing to me, although I'm sure it sounds ridiculous to some of you. I am deeply grateful for all the hand-me-downs. I feel thrifty when I pass by a nice item at the thrift store because I know I've got it covered according to my notebook. I don't enjoy the changing of the clothing seasons, but at least it's not complicated by major shopping trips and expenditures.
In short, I feel like the housekeeper of yore, with her keys jingling at her waist, knowledgeable of all the supplies in the vast house, watching with pride as life flows smoothly because her closets and pantry and larder are ready.