Elma Family Kitty Pip

Marie Kondo eat your heart out – Part 1: Children’s Handmedowns


Way back at the beginning of last summer I finally got around to reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I was inspired – I was going to completely blitz the house, it would look magical and free from clutter and we’d be able to walk into all the rooms without having to step over things. It would probably get bigger too, and somehow I’d also shrink back into all of my pre children clothes overnight, my children would all sleep through the night, unicorns and rainbows would do my housework and we’d probably win the lottery despite never buying a ticket!

I started with the best of intentions, if those slightly unreasonable expectations, and duly went through my clothes. I didn’t think I had that much to get rid of; I just don’t own that many clothes to start with, but it’s surprising what piles up. A bag went to the charity shop, a bag to textile recycling, and the rest was folded neatly Marie Kondo style in my drawers.

The folding is actually worth the hype it gets; it’s really nice to see all of your clothes at once when you open a drawer, and for me it stops me wearing the clothes at the top of the pile again and again and again. From my clothes I had a go at the children’s drawers, sorting and refolding (again, revolutionary) and even refolded H’s drawers, which revealed just how many golf shirts he owns.

And there I stopped, and stalled. The next item on the list is books, and we have a lot of books, and frankly the idea of pulling them all off their shelves is a little overwhelming, although it really does need doing.

And the months passed and the children all grew out of another set of clothes and their drawers got a bit muddled and I decided that it was high time to start again. My drawers are still nice and neat and organised, and my total wardrobe addition since the last time amounts to one work dress, so I decided to restart with the children’s clothes and sorting out all of the handmedowns.

Space for the Butterflies - Marie Kondo Part 1 - how to KonMari the Children's Handmedowns

On Saturday morning I pulled out all the boxes of baby and toddler clothes, and a bag, and another basket and stacked it all up on the sofa.

Then I realised a few bits must be missing and went hunting under beds and returned with this lot to add to the pile.

Space for the Butterflies - Marie Kondo Part 1 - how to KonMari the Children's Handmedowns

If you’re thinking that that’s an extraordinary amount of clothing for three children, you’re right. But we have a boy and girls, and the girls seem to have been opposite sizes to their sister in each season – we’d find we had plenty of summer clothes that fit Elma at the time she needed winter clothes and vice versa. Suffice to say that I could happily clothe a child from newborn up to age 8/9 right now as long as they weren’t too picky about pink.

To start with I just went through each box or bag, picking up the clothes and trying to ask myself if they sparked joy. Oh and whether they belong to my nephew (Pip has been doing very well on the handmedowns on that front!). It can be quite hard to tell if baby clothes spark joy, because they’re all just so cute, or have huge amounts of sentimental attachment so I went along the lines of, “if I had another baby right now, would I want to dress him or her in this?”

Baby vests that were quite spectacularly stained with paint, spaghetti and all the other evidence of baby led exploring went in a textile recycling pile – we can probably stretch to a new pack of vests for hypothetical baby – and clothes that had never or rarely been worn or sparked an “oh, that” reaction are going to the charity shop.  If it’s something I push to the bottom of the pile after three children, it probably needs a new life with someone else!

Space for the Butterflies - Marie Kondo Part 1 - how to KonMari the Children's Handmedowns

Some of my favourite of Elma’s old dresses – definitely a whole box of joy!

I started on Saturday and the folding took me the rest of the weekend but here we have the very tidy end result.

Space for the Butterflies - Marie Kondo Part 1 - how to KonMari the Children's Handmedowns

Four boxes of clothes from newborn to two years and a basket of Kitty and Elma’s most recently grown out of bits and bobs waiting for another box the next time we go to IKEA,

Space for the Butterflies - Marie Kondo Part 1 - how to KonMari the Children's Handmedowns

And of the rest, a big bag of clothes to give back to my sister, two bags for the charity shop and the little blue one for recycling.

They’re not going to be coming back out of storage any time soon so it feels really good to have everything so nice and neatly packed away, and I think it’s given me the kickstart that I needed to keep going with the process. I’ve promised H we’ll do his clothes next and then I really will do the books!


I am absolutely thrilled to be a MADs Finalist for the Best Craft Blog category this year – if you haven’t voted yet, please do, all the details are here or click on the banner – thank you

You Might Also Like

  • Louise | Squished Blueberries 04/05/2016 at 8:47 am

    Ok this makes me feel bad, we have a ‘drowning in children’s clothes’ situation going on right now. I did go through and sort out the stuff that didn’t fit them and put it to one side, but it didn’t get folded neatly into boxes. And then Ernie is constantly growing out of things, he’s just gone into 6-9 months but I’m sure there’s still some 0-3 lurking at the bottom of the washing pile! And the girls have an annoying habit that whenever I fold and hang their clothes neatly, they decide it’s time to play dress up and wear it all at once. Maybe we should just be naturists! I love that you’re keeping all the clothes for a hypothetical baby. We are unlikely to have another but I’ve still kept all the girls old clothes (in my mums loft) incase my sister has a girl soon, I just can’t bare to part with them!

    • Carie 05/05/2016 at 12:06 am

      I don’t think you should feel bad – Pip wears a mixture of 2-3 and 3-4 clothes and I’m only just sorting out the newborn clothes – everything previously was just bundled randomly into boxes and bags!!

  • Emma T 04/05/2016 at 12:24 pm

    Ha ha, I stalled after books. Clothes worked well in our house, although I do always have a handmedown pile to go to my godson. The hardest thing was just giving away to charity stuff that in the past I would have tried to sell. But I just can’t have it hanging around to do that. So it all just goes (apart from more valuable stuff in one bag that I really must photograph and try and sell).

    The books wasn’t too painful – I had 17 big bags to go to charity shop and freecycle, and have gone from around 350 books to 50 (most of which are books to read) because I just don’t re read most books. It’s sad though because I do hate to see a house without books – it’s not healthy for children – although N does still have 3 Ikea book shelves of books that need more space – must do another clear out of his.

    But paper and kitchen stuff I can’t bear at the moment. That’s my job for this summer when I get some time off (it’s only take a year since I started). Good luck with the rest of yours.

    • Carie 05/05/2016 at 12:09 am

      I think if we got all of the books and added them up we could easily be going on for a thousand – hence the book apprehension. I think I’m going to have to do them by category or possibly by location (breaking all the rules) just to make it manageable although there is a part of me that would love to see what they look like all piled up!

  • Donna 04/05/2016 at 12:32 pm

    I love a good declutter. Good job on those clothes! x

    • Carie 05/05/2016 at 12:09 am

      Thank you 🙂

  • Kim 05/05/2016 at 2:19 am

    Great job! I haven’t read the book yet, but have heard lots of great things about it.

    • Carie 05/05/2016 at 9:40 pm

      Thank you – it’s definitely been fun getting things all looking nice and neat – at least in that corner anyway!

  • Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations 16/05/2016 at 11:53 pm

    Great minds, Carie! Ive got a similar post scheduled for Thursday! Though I’m impressed you got your outgrows down to four boxes! Good work!xx

  • Sally 02/06/2016 at 2:07 pm

    Oh dear, I know I should read that book but…