How to swap kids’ seasonal clothes

It’s that time of year! Here in southwestern Ontario, Canada — just north of New York — the leaves are changing and the days are getting shorter. We know cold weather is on it’s way, so it’s time to do our semi-annual clothing swap out. That’s when we change over our closets from summer wear to winter wear. 

With 6 kids, this process always seems a bit overwhelming. But I do have a method to keep the madness to a minimum. Here’s three different strategies I use to try to contain the chaos and make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Try On Day

First, when I know the kids have gone through some serious growth spurts, we’ll have a “try-on” day. I’ll bring out the bins with the sizes that I think everyone’s grown into, up to our main living area. Then all the girls will strip down to their underwear and wait for their new clothes to try on. 

I’ll start with the oldest and pull out what I think will fit her. As I’m pulling out each piece, I give it a quick once-over for holes or obvious stains that I missed when I put it away. Then she tries it on. What doesn’t fit (or isn’t comfortable!) gets passed down to the next one. 

I try to keep track of who’s wearing what, because everything will get thrown into the wash before it goes into the drawers. But eventually, everyone ends up with their own pile of clothes that fit and they’re excited to wear. 

Try-On Day is usually a lot of fun.

The girls model their clothes, compare sizes as they remember who wore what last year, and rediscover old favorites. Sometimes they’ll race to see who can try on more things faster. And occasionally there’s a few tears as someone realizes they’ve outgrown something they loved. But all in all, it’s a good day. 

Wash & Sort

When I know what sizes are fitting who, sometimes I don’t bother having anyone try on anything. I’ll just pull out the appropriate sizes, and dump them into my laundry piles. Then I sort through them as I wash them, and they end up in the girls’ drawers. 

This is a little bit faster, as I can usually do this in a weekend or so. I’ll do this kind of quicker transition on a weekend my kids are with their father. They’ll come home with the last of their last seasons’ clothes, and to drawers full of “new” clothes. 

This kind of seasonal clothes change is almost more fun for me. It’s like Christmas for them, because they don’t even know what they have. So they’ll come out over the next few weeks wearing new-to-them clothes and be really excited over them. Cheap thrills, haha. 

Put Away Slowly, and Replace

Similar to the Wash-and-Sort method, this is what I do when the seasonal change is a little slower — like this year. This year we’ve had unseasonably warm weather late into fall, so I’ve been a little slower to change over their clothes. I’ve pulled out the summer clothes as they’ve gone through the laundry, and replaced slowly with cooler-weather clothing.

So for a few weeks, we’ve had almost all the clothes in the house in the wash. This method requires that I do a lot of laundry. But it’s not as much upfront-work! And because I’m sorting through both summer and winter clothes, I can toss the hole-filled or overly-stained items a little easier. 

It always takes me 1-2 weeks to finish.

No matter what method I choose, it always takes a couple of weeks to make the complete transition. And it never fails that I’ll miss a few items. They’ll hang around till the next seasonal change, once the bins are put away. 

And now, as the baby is getting bigger, I can finally finally start to slowly give away the things that we’ve outgrown. That frees up room in my bins and my storage room. It’s bittersweet, knowing that I’m not storing baby clothes anymore, but at the same time, it’s a relief to know that I don’t have to hold on to all that stuff now too. 

Do you do a seasonal clothes swap? Do you have a method to it? Is it a big deal at your house like it is here?

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