It comes around on a far too regular basis for most parents. It signals change and growth in both a wonderful and a terrifying way. Our babies feel like they are turning into teenagers.
The change in clothing size. The great clothing cull as I like to call it. It’s time for the cotton chop.
Don’t get me wrong, it gets a lot less frequent as they get older – but that brings its own problems. Your little one has worn those teeny t-shirts for a lot longer and you’ve had the time to make more memories in them. You’ll always remember what they were wearing when they took their first steps or their outfit from your favourite photograph. You have more time to grown attached to your favourite pieces, which usually turns out to be all of them. Including the socks.
Growing can be fun. Once they’ve grown out of those first few tiny outfits you took into the hospital, you can start to see their new personality now they’re in the outside world and can dress them accordingly. They may look super cute in pastels, or have a bold personality that can pull off bright colours.
It’s special to get those few new little outfits, some of which they can grow out of before they even get into them. To browse around Mothercare and perhaps pick something up in the sale that is only in the size above.
There is a warm fuzzy feeling when you have a giggle at putting those tiny feet in the new bigger outfit just to see how they look, and how gigantic it is. Soon though, those tiny toes are breaking free and it’s time for the shops again.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a little bit of denial when it comes to those favourite items – practically stuffing your little one into them until you are forced to admit defeat. You may hide them under the bed for a while and just enjoy photographing the fun days in the new outfits.
This stage can usually last for the first year when they are growing out of clothes in an average of 2-3 months and you can feel like you’re constantly buying new clothes.
Then begins my least favourite stage. The bigger clothes stage. Not only do they take up double the amount of space of the washing line (when I was pregnant I could get a whole load of teeny baby grows on one washing line) but you’re making those all important memories. Every compulsion you have to buy another cute pair of trousers goes straight into their already mounting pile of clothes rather than to replace outgrown ones.
Firstly, it’s time to sort out those smaller clothes that you’ve been hoarding to make way for your new stash. This involves baby clothes so small that they would make you go gooey no matter who they had belonged to. It can be hard to be harsh in deciding what doesn’t make the cut, but the more special the ‘keepers’ then the more nostalgic they will be when you look back in years to come. Thankfully, some of them you will have forgotten you had completely and lose most emotional connection. Cue sale, charity shop or your pregnant cousin.
It’s strange when you notice that it’s happening again – they’re growing and everything is becoming too short and tight again. The difference in size between different shops becomes more evident as the sizes get bigger so you start to hide the smallest sizes and continue with the denial. You can stay in this state for quite a while.
Then comes the day. There is not one thing you can dress them in that won’t get a tut from great-gran when she can see his socks under his trousers even while he’s standing up.
You just have to bite the bullet and do it.
All the selected size (it was 12-18 months for us this week, even though Jay is 2) must go. Be ruthless. Tell yourself they’ll just be sitting under the bed for a while until you are in a more ruthless emotional state to decide on keepers and throwers.
You’ll still linger over the bobbled and faded old t-shirt that those little ones would wear every single day if given the chance.
Be nice to yourself. Fold them up and put them away for a day, a week or if you’re like me – 3 months. If there is a lot that you want to keep, look into turning it into something else. Perhaps a patchwork cushion or a padded wall hanging. Something that may still get some use and be loved by your child but will be useful for them beyond the age and stage they are now.
Then you’ll look into their wardrobe and see lots of empty space.
The empty space of endless possibility. Who doesn’t love shopping? Well, maybe not mothers all the time now we have toddlers but still. They can pick their own clothes now. Use their personalities and have a toddler change in style. Go for the Disney characters instead of the baby teddy bears. Get more bright colours instead of white to hide some of the impending grass stains.
It is hard. It is emotional. It is an attachment to inanimate things that have protected your child as they have grown, and are a physical demonstration of just how far they have come.
It is necessary. It is exciting.
The great clothing cull.
Just try not to think about what comes next – the great toy cull.
Some of the outfits that we’ve decide to keep -