Sometimes life throws you curveballs….
“Congratulations, it’s twins!”
With those words, I unexpectedly became a mum to 5 boys and my world was turned upside down. I already had 3 little boys, including another set of twins. How was I going to manage? How was I going to afford 5 kids?
I needed to get organised. I wanted to be one of those mums who seemingly had it all together, instead of being the hot mess who was always late and forgot her baby wipes (always a massive tactical error as it guaranteed a poosplosion!).
I spent the next several months searching for organisational hacks and tips, learning how other mums with large families did it, slowly refining the systems I already had in place and putting something together that is workable for myself, my kids and my husband; who is the main stay at home parent while I work full time. Our house is on the small side so we don’t have a lot of space for storage. It’s still a work in progress but I would like to share the tips I picked up along the way that I found handiest.
The Rule of 5 winter, 5 summer and 5 transitional outfits:
If your kids are anything like mine, they tend to wear the same clothes over and over again, while rejecting a fair portion of their clothes. There are battles with getting dressed as the 4-year-old wants his Paw Patrol jumper and one twin can’t find his lucky red shirt. Days begin with rifling through huge piles of clean washing, trying to find particular items. Wardrobes are full of a range of sizes, stuff they’ve grown out of, the wrong size a grandparent bought, and a lot of stuff they don’t wear. It’s overwhelming and a huge task to manage.
With the rule of 5 winter, 5 summer and 5 transitional outfits, each child has 5 of each item.
How this system looks for one of my boys:
- 5 jumpers
- 5 t-shirts
- 5 pairs of pants
- 5 pairs of shorts
- 5 long sleeved tops
- 5 pairs of pyjamas (2 summer, 3 winter)
- 7-8 pairs of socks
- 7-8 pairs of jocks
- 3 singlets
- 2 full sets of school uniforms (2 summer, 2 winter + 5 pairs of school socks)
- 5 pairs of shoes: runners, school shoes, gum boots, sandals and thongs
Exceptions to the rule…
For my 4 year old I have a couple more sets of clothes as he doesn’t have a school uniform. He has a couple of extra sets on rotation for kinder.
I find I need around 8-10 sets of clothes for my babies as they get dirty very easily and need to be changed more frequently.
I don’t have any girls but if you did you might have to add on skirts, dresses, tights and accessories into this system. Girls would have more items of clothing most likely, but the rule of 5 could still be used to reduce excess.
How to cull:
To cull down to this amount of clothes, I used the KonMari Method. You may have heard of this method from the Netflix show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’. You take all your children’s clothes out of their wardrobe and dump it in a big pile. Get them to hold each item, and decide whether it ‘sparks joy’. This is a great technique and I found my boys were very good at deciding which things brought them joy. All ‘joy’ items were kept, and I made sure out of the remaining items I had covered each of the 5 categories, then donated the rest. If you’ve got brand name clothes in good condition you can always bundle and sell for some extra cash. My kids clothes tend to be pretty worn out after going through 5 boys!
Storage: a 2 tub system:
To store the clothes, I use a system I learned off another mum. You have 2 tubs, one for ‘house clothes’ (think play clothes/ones you don’t mind getting dirty) and one for ‘good clothes’. I have the tubs labelled. I keep whole outfits in these tubs (not including underwear). I have 3 outfits on the house clothes tub and 2 outfits in the good clothes tub. This way my boys are able to pick an outfit easily. With baby twins to organize I need my older boys to be able to dress themselves. My boys know to get dressed from the ‘house clothes’ tub, unless I tell them we are going somewhere. This system is great as it makes it easy for little kids to find whole outfits, dress independently and there are less battles because the clothes they have are all clothes they love. In addition, the system prevents the good clothes getting wrecked and dirty, so they are available and clean when you want the kids looking nice for a family outing.
Having less does mean washing daily, but it prevents huge mountains of washing and folding as it’s done more frequently. This system works best when children are school age. Younger kids will most likely need a few more sets of clothes, especially crawling babies, messy toddlers and toilet training 3 year olds who have frequent accidents. I follow the same 2 tub system for my babies, but I do need more outfits on rotation as they are crawling and get quite dirty.
For school uniforms I keep them in this cubby setup, a hack I picked up from the Kmart mums page (cost under $100 to make). It has bags in the bigger locker section, school uniforms in the top cube and school shoes in the bottom cube. The basket is for readers lunch boxes etc. I keep whatever season’s uniforms in the cube and switch them out depending on season.
To save money on school uniforms I buy the logo items from the uniform shop during a week of the year where they have 25% off and I buy non logo items like pants and shorts from Target or Kmart in January. This is much cheaper than the uniform shop. Plus I’ve got some hand me downs stashed away for when my bigger twin grows into them. Schools often sell off unclaimed uniform items for very cheap at some stage in the year too but I mostly buy new as they have to go through 5 boys.
Financial benefits of less:
I’ve always enjoyed shopping and loved buying all the cute kiddie clothes. With a large family I’ve had to stop and take stock of spending as it can get expensive with 5. Now I sort through the clothes, see what new bigger sizes are needed and write a list to make sure I’m not over spending on unnecessary items and duplicates. House clothes are usually hand-me-downs. My twins are all different sizes so I can get away with passing down house clothes through the kids. A friend gives me clothes in a larger size that I can use for my bigger twin.
For their good clothes, I buy new. I worked out a yearly amount I would spend on clothes, including school uniforms and school shoes. I divided that by 52 and put that amount aside into an account weekly to cover the cost of necessary clothing items. I love being able to just walk in, buy what I need with money already saved and not have to worry about credit cards, layby or AfterPay to afford things.
In addition to this, I downloaded the Flybuys app and activate bonus point deals throughout the year when I grocery shop, saving up points for Christmas and birthdays costs. My boys each get a new outfit at Christmas and their birthday, paid for with my Flybuys points.
For my baby twins I buy bundles of clothes on Facebook marketplace or check out opp shops; often there are good brands and lightly worn at bargain prices.
House clothes are typically hand-me-downs in less perfect condition, or dark coloured cheap onesies that hide dirt. I find I need to spend very little on baby clothes as people gift you a fair bit of stuff or pass on baby clothes with a new baby.
The major reason I started getting organised in the first place was to have more time for my kids and to spend less time dealing with all the stuff I owned. Having less means it’s quicker to get through the washing, folding and putting away, then have more time and money to be doing fun stuff with family.