How Often Do You Declutter Your Wardrobe?

how often do you declutter your wardrobeHere’s a fun question for today: how often do you declutter your wardrobe? Do you have a “one in, one out” policy? How do you deal if you have a bunch of clothes that will totally fit if you just lose 5 or 10 pounds (and yet you never seem to lose those 5 or 10 pounds)? Another blogger I follow just mentioned that she bought something, didn’t like it, and thrifted it after a few months and I thought, WHOA.wardrobe decluttering - how often to get rid of your clothing clutter This lady is serious about thrifting. So I thought it might be an interesting discussion about turnover rates for clothes — how quickly do you assess what’s not working and try to sell, thrift, or donate?

(Psst: here’s our last discussion about decluttering, the pros and cons of thrifting for workwear, as well as an open thread on what we all shop for on eBay. Ah yes, and our last discussion on why you SHOULD do a seasonal clothing review.)

I am far from a good example here, probably. Here’s my process: make purchase. Note return date. If I can wear the piece within the return date, I do. If it is still sitting on the big chair in my bedroom where all clothes end up after a few weeks and I’ve felt no impulse to wear it, I make one last effort to try it on — 90% of the time I send it back. (I’ve gotten into a rut for my personal style and I’m trying to break out of it by buying different things, and so half the time this is the reason behind it — the New Thing just “really isn’t my style even though I thought it would be or might be or WAS my style 10 years ago.”)

Other times, I keep the New Thing, and after a few wears it may reveal itself to be too high maintenance. It wrinkles when washed. It pills. It shows too many lumps or lines from undergarments. This is the point where a NORMAL person might say, “whoops, bad choice, off to the thrift store it goes!” Instead I put it in my closet where it gathers dust for many moons, maybe waiting for the mythical “if I only lost 5 pounds it might fit better,” or perhaps the “maybe I’ll wear it for a nice occasion.” (Spoiler alert: I never do either.) Meanwhile we have bags and bags of kids’ clothes that needed to be thrifted or recycled — I just haven’t had a chance to process/inventory it all and am stubborn about letting it go before that. I know: let it go, let it gooooooooo…

How about you, ladies — how often do you declutter your wardrobe? what’s your process when it comes to assessing closet duds? Do you try to wear them one last time before thrifting or do you just get it out the door? Where do you prefer to send things — a charity? A recycling center (many H&Ms collect clothes for recycling, FYI, and Soma often offers a discount if you bring in an older bra)? A local thrift store or consignment store? An online service like thredUp, Poshmark, TheRealReal — or good old eBay?

Comments

  1. Anon question re: vacation w the ILs :

    What would you do question for the hive:
    My inlaws like this vacation spot and we have been going to it with them for over a decade. It is their “family” spot and in the four times that we have been there previously, they have paid for the entire family’s attendance. Last year they asked us if we wanted to go again this year and we agreed, though neither of us enjoys it- we do it strictly on the basis that they love it and they care enough to cover it and they want the whole family there.
    At the end of the stay my MIL stopped by when we were packing up and said, “you can go pay your portion in the office.” Which turned out to be $3k. Am I a crazy entitled person to think that it was a little nuts to not clarify that we would be on the hook for this up front? This is not an amount of money I would normally consider spending on a long weekend trip, in particular one to a place I do not enjoy and basically do for other people.

    • Mrs. Jones :

      No you’re not crazy. Next time I’d just say no to the trip that’s not really enjoyable.

    • Marshmallow :

      Yikes. Yeah I would be irked enough if that had been revealed to me at the last minute BEFORE the vacation, much less at the END of the trip. $3k for just a long weekend???

      My husband would be asking what changed from the last ten years, why they expect us to cover it now, and why they did not tell us about the cost until the end of the trip. I’d probably suck it up and pay that one time. And we’d never be vacationing with them again.

      • Anonymous :

        This. From my own personal experience, my parents continued to pay for all expenses associated with a family trip we all take every year for the first few years we were married, but as we’ve gotten older and more stable in our own careers, and they have tried to cut back more in order to afford an easier retirement, they came to us and told us on the front end what would be expected. It’s been a slow pull back to the point now where we pay our entire share, and probably then some toward joint expenses (meals out, etc.). I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to want you to pay at some point, but to not tell you until the end is bonkers!

        • Agreed. I’d be willing to go into “serious family rift” territory over this one (or, at least, encourage my husband to go there). That’s an absurd amount of money to just drop on someone without warning.

          • I try not to encourage family rifts unless the Other Party seems to be encouraging the rift, but I never want to be the person that starts it or encourages it, for my family or for my partner.

            YMMV.

          • Certainly, and I don’t either (never had one, in fact). But this is not something that should be just accepted, is my point. If not just rolling over and accepting it creates a big family rift, that’s on them, not you.

    • Anonymous :

      No, you are not crazy. If they were changing the process so that every adult pays (which is a reasonable expectation), they should have told you that when inviting you.

      At least now you know. When they invite you to do something in the future, I would assume that you are paying your share. If it is something you are not willing to spend the money on, like this trip, you can just tell them it is not in the budget. If they really want you to come, they can offer to pay and you can consider whether to accept.

    • That sucks but it’s weird to me that you have been going with them for a decade and never paid. Have you ever offered to do so? Assuming yes and they declined, then it seems unfair to spring this on you.

      • Anonymous :

        Agreed though OP, do you make up for it in other ways? I would also just pay, stay quiet and not go on this trip in the future… but to the extent you still want a discussion over it, your husband needs to do it.

    • Wow, ouch! Yeah, while you do have to pay this now, you never make this trip again. Husband needs to talk to his parents about revealing monetary obligations prior to your commitment to trips with them. And perhaps both of you need to think of an alternative place to take his parents so they can’t say “you only want to see us when we pay for everything”.

      • Anonymous :

        Truly bad manners. If they wanted you to pay your share, it should have been discussed before the trip.

        This. Find an alternate location “We love traveling with you but OLD LOCATION is beyond our budget. Let’s try NEW LOCATION this year.”

      • Thanks for your input everyone. For additional color,
        1) we’ve never paid
        2) we never offered to pay (I can see how this may seem bratty, but it is something I would NEVER do if it weren’t this thing that is Important to Them. Think, like, it’s a type of vacation I would never in a million years take myself.)
        3) the 3k was all meals + lodging for 2 people for 4 days plus all activities. Think like club med or something (but not club med). A lot but not crazy IMO.

        What ended up happening because my DH is not willing to confront his parents is I said on a phone call a week later, “it would have been nice to know ahead of time if we were changing the arrangements for payment on this vacation.” My MIL acted all shocked, like “why wouldn’t you pay for it,” as though we had all the other times. It was pretty strange.

        Needless to say, I won’t be taking this trip again, and my DH I suppose can go if he wants. Thank you for your input. It’s as I suspected, I guess. I was out of line for assuming they would pay and being a little entitled, but they were at fault for not putting their new view on the arrangement out there from the get go.

        • Anonymous :

          Not to create an issue, but is there any chance your husband has been paying for part of it all along without telling you?

          • Nope. Our finances are shared.

          • Anonymous :

            That was my thought. Their son is too silent in this, and not knowing him, it may be that he has quietly paid (somehow) to keep the peace.

            As someone with older parents in law, I know that vacation time with them will be less active, and frankly, I don’t expect them to vacation how we do, with two adventurous tweens in tow. Offer a plan B, or if this is We Would Really Like The Whole Family To Be Together Once In A While, it may be decent, especially if there are tradeoffs, like fewer family obligations over the rest of the year. As in, does this work itself out over the rest of the year?

    • It was unkind for them not to tell you that a weekend trip costs $3k (which seems like A LOT, can you clarify if that was only for your portion or everyone’s?). But I also think it was on you to ask how much it was before going. It’s a normal adult thing to ask “how much is this vacation” before going and you didn’t.

      • Anonymous :

        Disagree that when parents have been treating every year for a decade that there is still an expectation to ask every year “how much”. With that tradition, it’s on the parents to note they want to make a change. A decade is a long time for a family vacation tradition.

    • Anonymous :

      Why didn’t you say “excuse me? You always pay for this and hadn’t discussed changing that?”

      • Because she is the daughter-in-law, not the daughter. So she went along with it. At that point, money is due and the expectation has been set.

    • This is the kind of thing my MIL would do to signal her displeasure with us in some way. I don’t know if your ILs are the same, but mine attempt to use money to control/punish/reward. The most frustrating part is when my MIL gaslights us about money and rewrites history or pretends conversations did or did not happen. I have a hard time believing your MIL is so clueless unless her spouse has been making the payments all these years or something.

      If you want to try to look at the silver lining, your $3K payment means you never have to go on that miserable vacation with your ILs again.

    • My comment is different from the rest, which is the reason I’m sharing it. Fro my perspective, it sounds like the in-laws got wind of the fact that you dislike this vacation and only go because they pay. Now they (justifiably, I might add) feel that’s a very ungrateful attitude. So they decided to teach you a lesson (I’ll venture the guess that they are well aware that you can afford this $3k, however inconvenient). I actually don’t blame them T all. You have to suck it up to be with family for ONE WEEKEND per year that’s costs $3k?! That, sometimes we do things we don’t like. I drive 45 minutes to change my great aunt’s bed twice per week, and my mom did it every day until she died from stress at 62. Sometimes we do things that we don’t like because they make other people happy or because other people need them done. It’s your family, no less. Have a little courtesy and respect and for God’s sake, be grateful they have paid for your entire family to go on this weekend trip for 10 years! I’m sorry, I know this is an unconventional perspective, but that’s precisely why I’m including it.

  2. Clementine :

    Every 6 months or so, I go through and re-assess my wardrobe. This includes figuring out if there’s something I’m not wearing and if so, why? I don’t keep clothes ‘just in case’ and re-assessed my clothes 6 months after having a baby to figure out what made sense to keep and what didn’t.

    I also keep a bag to go to the thrift store in my closet at all times. If there’s a shirt I repeatedly try on in the mornings and it’s never quite right, into the bag it goes! Having a more streamlined wardrobe helps me keep tidy and also magically makes me feel like I have more to wear.

    Another critical thing I do is try on all my spandex workout/yoga pants and put them on over patterned underwear and then bend over in bright light and check (my husband is great for this!) if they have somehow become see-through. It happens and I’d rather be aware than be that lady at the park/yoga/the gym.

    • Love the idea of keeping a donation bag in your closet!

    • Me too. I do it on a seasonal basis, tho, meaning 4x a year. Anything I have not worn for the season goes OUT to Goodwill, and many things that I only wore b/c the cleaning lady was slow in doing laundry also goes OUT to Goodwill. I also give the cleaning lady alot of clotheing for her daughter, Luz, who is my size, and will get alot more as I move up to size 4 b/c of my tuchus. I really do NOT mind giveing my clotheing away b/c I get new clotheing all the time. YAY!!!!!

  3. Immersion blender :

    Recs for an immersion blender that isn’t a piece of garbage? I’m so sick of replacing appliances. I would pay up to $500 for something that can last 10 years. Thanks.

    • We just got the Breville one recommended by wirecutter. About $100. So far it’s been great.

    • immersion blender. :

      I have a cusinart one that I’ve had for 10 years! It was $50.

      • Anonymous :

        I’m on my second Cuisinart. I killed the first. But, since they are only $50, I assume it’s the cost of doing business. Maybe this one will last 1o years…

    • Aunt Jamesina :

      We’ve had a Cuisinart Smart Stick for 7 years now with no issues, although we also have a food processor and a blender for big blending/crushing jobs. What purposes are you using your immersion blender for?

      • Mine was double duty – it could attach to a bowl to be a food processor (and died grating cheese). I like that idea for reducing footprint but maybe that’s too much to ask. Any recs for a food processor that can be taken off the counter easily and can be fully cleaned?

        • Aunt Jamesina :

          I’ve had the Cuisinart 14 cup model for almost a decade and it’s awesome! My mom has the same model from the late 80s and it’s still going strong. It’s a bit of a behemoth, but if you want a powerful machine that will last a long time, you won’t get that in a compact model. We put ours away after each use since we have a small kitchen with limited counter space and I don’t find it to be too burdensome.

    • BigLaw Sr Assoc :

      I don’t know if you can find an immersion blender that costs $500. We bought the Cuisinart SmartStick more than 5 years ago, and it is still going strong and is very effective. I think we are pretty hard on it too.

    • BabyAssociate :

      All Clad immersion blender. I believe there is only one model and it’s about $100. I love it.

  4. Anonymous :

    I am in the middle of “The Great Closet/Dresser/Attic Purge” at this very moment. I have come up with the following methodology:

    -Everything currently stored in bins in the attic (i.e. Seasonal items that have stayed in attic for multiple seasons without being needed, clothes that fit when I was significantly smaller, etc.) has been brought down and sorted by size and quality. High quality items (excellent condition and high cost of original purchase) have been offered to close friends and what is left over have been posted on PoshMark. Good quality items in good condition (no rips, tears, stains, etc.) have been donated and low quality items to be taken to be recycled.

    -Dresser and Closet was carefully screened. Anything that hasn’t been worn in a year was sorted and donated via the same system as the attic. Remaining items were evaluated for functionality and fit. Things I just don’t wear often were placed back on the rack with the hanger facing the opposite direction. If they are not worn in the next 6 months they will be sold on PoshMark, given away, or donated. The remaining frequent-wear items were moved to the most visible part of my closet.

    End goal from all of this work: Create a “Capsule Wardrobe” of high quality, frequent use pieces that I love and make me feel great when I wear them, and then use a rental service like Rent the Runway or Le Tote for special occasions or for some fun, trendy pieces to mix in.

  5. I have such a problem with this. I just cleaned out my closet this weekend, and only got rid of 5 things. But I know that there is a ton more in the closet that I never wear. But when I’m evaluating each individual piece, it is never bad enough for me to get rid of. Often, but not always, because it will fit if I just lose 5 lbs, and I want to lose the weight, so … I really need to change my thoughts/process on this one.

    • Anonymous :

      I struggle with this, too. But hey, you are 5 things lighter!!! Baby steps!

      • Anonymous :

        I find that usually I’m unable to get rid of more than 1-2 things at a time. My process: Go through a category at a time (“skirts”, “blouses”), pick the 1 worst item. Force myself to wear it; if I don’t enjoy it (or don’t even want to wear it), put it in the donation bag (which I always keep in my closet). Repeat a few weeks later.

    • Anonymous :

      I was in a similar position for years. What finally helped me was removing everything from my closet that did not fit perfectly, as-is, right now, and putting that stuff in a bin in the basement. It was refreshing to only have things in my closet that work for my body right now. And then every year or so I’ll go through the bin and reassess if things now fit such that I want to add them back to my closet or if I’m ready to let them go.

    • Here’s a tip: After you’ve worn an item, put it back in your closet on the right-hand side. Do this for at least 2 weeks, although a month is better. After time, you’ll be able to see the items you actually wear (right side) and the ones that never see the light of day (left side). Remove the clothes from the left side, try them on and determine why you don’t wear them (don’t fit, wrong colour, out of style, damaged/stained). Toss or donate accordingly.

  6. Two Cents :

    Love this question. I am diligent about going through my closet every few months and decluttering. It helps that I have a relatively small wardrobe and it’s easy to see all of my clothes with one glance. I live in an apartment building which has a donation bin for clothes, so it’s easy to give stuff away. I have tried selling through some consignment stores but these days I just don’t have the time or energy.

    I was holding on to a beautiful kelly green dress from Boden, love the color but the fit no longer worked for me. Finally donated it.

  7. I have an additional complication…one of my hobbies is making my own clothes. But sometimes this doesn’t work out and I have these dresses from when I first started sewing. What do other sew-ists on here do with garments they no longer want to wear? I think I just have to throw them out, right? (And no, 9.9 times out of 10, I can’t repurpose the fabric for another project.)

    • Clementine :

      I have previously donated a bunch of random fabric-y stuff to a local Home Ec teacher who had added a class aimed at teaching students interested in fashion how to do sewing, including basic fit and alterations. I know one of the things they did was take random donated items of clothing and practice tailoring them.

      Scraps of fabric that were really small went to an art teacher who used them for both mixed media projects and also in lieu of paper towels for certain clean up things.

      For those items, call a local high school?

      Also, for really weird stuff (like what I found cleaning out my Grandmother’s house), the local HS drama club was THRILLED to get a bunch of faux fur stoles and old purses and hats and such.

    • Sadly, it just goes in the Goodwill bin. I do have a couple of items that I use as guides with notes right on the fabric which makes it easier to adjust other patterns and also allow me to quickly gauge how much my measurements changed but those are the only ones I kept.

    • Candidate :

      I have the exact same problem! It’s particularly bad because I HATE refashioning. Things either get loved and worn to death or are too much of a style or fabric experiment, and need to leave my house. I will do some mending, though, and the more I love the item the likelier it is to get fixed and worn more.

      I’m also in the middle of a closet re-design (updating my shelving and storage) so I’m reckoning with the clothes I don’t wear. Stuff that I don’t like or don’t wear any more go away; stuff that is in reasonable shape gets donated, and stuff that is not gets put in the fabric recycling. I’d rather toss something than keep it in my closet and feel guilty about the failed or neglected project.

      Same thing for older store-bought clothes, too. I’m being as ruthless as I can, and I’ve found the turning the hangers around trick helpful. Put all the hangers in your closet on the rod backward, and turn them around when you wear something. Then in 3 or 6 months anything that hasn’t been worn goes away.

  8. AnonInfinity :

    I do a big closet purge every year where I try to honestly assess everything in my closet. If something is faded, pilled, or looks bad, I’ll get rid of it. I try on anything that I’m on the fence about and can usually decide pretty quickly if it’s worth keeping.

    I typically don’t keep clothes “just in case” I lose weight or something. I figure that even if I do lose weight, I’ll want some new clothes to celebrate.

    This is generally how I am with my house. I purge regularly, and if I have something that I don’t use (unless it’s for a special event or whatever that I know will happen), then I get rid of it. Sometimes I feel like stuff weighs me down, and this all helps me feel happy about my surroundings and possessions.

  9. This has been on my to do list forever and it’s just not happening. But I know that I tend to be much better about this sort of thing if I have a clear plan for the stuff I can’t use like giving it to a friend or donating to a clothing drive. Right now I think I need to reassess my closet because I’ve realized some things that I wore at 33/34 feel a bit off at 37. It’s like something happens on the other side of 35 and suddenly that anthropologie print is just too twee! I’m hoping to use that as a basis for my larger overhaul.

    On the plus side, because my body isn’t exactly the same post pregnancy, I am happy to say that two blazers that weren’t quite right before but that I couldn’t throw away because “maybe I’d wear them” actually finally became right! It’s so rare that it works out that way that it really made me happy.

  10. I do a twice-yearly wardrobe switch from winter to summer (and back), and use that time to assess things and see if anything isn’t going to work anymore. If I haven’t worn an item at all that season, it’s probably going to the thrift shop.

    Honestly though, the easiest way to declutter for me is to just not have clutter. Not having too many clothes really helps. I started streamlining my wardrobe in my mid-late twenties (I love Marie Kondo) and now only have and buy things I really really like. It makes it easier to get dressed and has cut down a lot on my clothing waste.

    • Aunt Jamesina :

      You’re my wardrobe organization twin! I have a tiny closet and find that the seasonal change is the perfect time to go through everything.

  11. Anonymous :

    I was so good about this pre-kids. I would “play” in my closet about once a month, usually for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon. I would tidy up, put shoes back in boxes, hang everything up, and go through as I did, culling for re-sale (usually at that time, only ebay) or donation. This was partially motivated by my love of clothes and partially motivated by having a small, awkward closet (about 2/3 of it couldn’t be seen at the door so clothes had a good chance of “hiding” back there). Now with kids, in a bigger house with a walk-in closet, I can only dream of having that type of opportunity. I desperately need a good purge and am trying to decide if it’s worth taking a half day PTO to do that…

    • I am really busy and what has worked for me is just one drawer/shelf/box each weekend. I keep a donate pile and drop it off when it starts to tip over. I put stuff to be repaired in a repair pile, ditto. I tidy up what’s left, and add whatever I need from that category to a list on my handheld. I shop from the list when I have time.

  12. Minnie Beebe :

    I’m struggling with this at the moment, as I’m in the midst of packing up my house in preparation for an upcoming move end-of-next week. I thought I had the house Konmari-ed AF. But now, I wonder about half of the stuff I’m putting into boxes (I’m talking to you, ice cream maker!)

    The new house has a TON of storage. Built-ins everywhere, a good portion of which will be empty when we move in. It’s not an issue of where the stuff will be stored, but why on earth am I packing this stuff and paying someone to move it for me? It’s ridiculous. But I can’t deal with dealing with it right now, with everything going on at work, on the new home renovations, etc. So it will all be moved. Sigh.

    My wardrobe is the least of my worries at the moment but I’m fairly certain that once we move, I’ll be going through my clothes and getting rid of things I don’t. Probably sometime before the end of the year. i would guess that I do this roughly 2x/year. I try to do my son’s clothes at roughly the same time, to minimize trips to goodwill.

    • Anonymous :

      I will speak in defense of having an ice cream maker! (Mostly if it is electric though) Have 1-2 small gatherings in the summer to match what you make. Make sure parents or other adults are in the mix, as its what adults really appreciate! Kids will vacuum it down without nuance.

      And I high-5 you on the seasonal, and moving, wardrobe assessment and purge. Best wishes with the move.

  13. Parentood :

    This morning’s thread about selfish or withdrawn parents got me wondering whether many more people would be better off childless than becoming uncaring parents out of obligation or tradition. In my friend circle, about half the women decided not to have children (35-40 yo, so pretty final decisions). It seems extremely smart to me that if you don’t want to be a parent you would not have children, yet the stigma they experience (mostly from their own families and society at large) is staggering. Which makes me think that many women/couples who actually don’t want to be parents are bullied into parenthood. Is this something you have experienced or know someone who has? What happens in these cases? I am very disturbed by this idea.

    • One of my friends was very much an “accident.” Her mom did not want to have kids, but she got pregnant on accident and did not want to get rid of it. She, for some reason, grew up knowing that she was unwanted. She has a younger sister who was wanted. The younger sister has a much healthier relationship with the parents than my friend, but everything with them is still weird. Like, her mom is fine, but it is very obvious that she would prefer her daughters to be her “friends” not daughters. For example, the mom imposed a rule that neither daughter could stay with her for more than a week at a time after they graduated college, even though both of them were in grad school and had multi-week breaks. She also has essentially left them to fend for themselves after major surgeries, etc. It’s just all very strange.

      • Anonymous :

        The mom could be repeating what her own childhood was, or even improving it! Did the mom make it to college?

        I might guess that the mom is young and is still working? If this mom is living paycheck-to-paycheck, it may be the economic realities of the relationship. Read the biography of Sonia Sotomayer (who does not have children, and had a hard jump toward college and beyond with a family that loved her dearly…but did not understand how to navigate a lot of it because they had little to no exposure and limited resources.

    • Unfortunately, when you’re talking in generations, only very recently has it been feasible–let alone societally acceptable–for a woman to decide for herself whether she has children. The same thing is true when we talk about leaving abusive marriages or about honoring one’s sexuality.

      If the only mode of being, for several generations, was for an identified-male-at-birth person to marry an identified-female-at-birth person and then have children, well, then that’s what you did. And it’s likely that a lot of those people *weren’t* in a good place to raise their children, for whatever reason, and those children are now themselves faced with becoming parents or grandparents–now with a much better understanding of how those relationships work–and can make decisions that were not available to previous generations.

      I should clarify that in no way do I believe that trauma or dissatisfaction excuses child abuse or bad parenting. But I do think a lot of people who don’t want to be parents are better able to opt out now than they may have been in previous decades.

    • Anonymous :

      I personally think this is super, super common! I also believe I’ve observed a pattern where the kids do a lot of acting out for negative attention, when that’s the main kind of attention available from the vaguely resentful (but they’d never admit it) parents-by-default.

      I also know several moms and couples who are parents because of accidental pregnancies who have stepped up to the plate and done an incredible job raising their kids. So I don’t think it matters that much whether you really wanted to be a parent. If you treat your child like a real human being with his or her own life to live, you will still parent pretty well. But if you chose to have kids because of social pressures to fulfill a social narrative, you will probably treat your kids like they exist mainly as a component of your own life.

      • As a parent of an oops baby and 2 very much wanted babies, I think setting aside that resentment is key.

        For any parent, really. Kids will occupy time, money, space, your body literally if pregnant or breastfeeding, and much much more headspace, lifespace, etc. If you are at all resentful or any dominating amount of resentful towards the baby/kid or partner or choices or anything, you will not be a good parent. I say this with great finality, but that is my own assessment and opinion, obviously I don’t have study or evidence about this. But I think that feeling of resentment is key.

        [And I have seen it change in friends as their kids got older – they didn’t love babies or toddlers but adored older preschoolers and school age kids — but I think the stage is set from the beginning, those feelings and that bond, to some extent. And it certainly helps to be in The Right Mindset from the beginnning, just because it is hard to change, as a person and as a parent.]

    • Anonymous :

      It’s social pressure, and is underscored by patriarchy. Women make do. Raising a child is very often measured against a woman’s character, so it can flip a number of ways. Many women raise their kids in a way that the kids understand what needs to change, but sometimes that feels like planning to sail into a tsunami. Hope sustains us, along with the spirit of our kids. There are others who struggle harder for many, many reasons.

      Some of this reminds me of the podcast I’m re-listening to On Being with Krista Tippett interviewing Alain de Botton, which has to do with how we love, and how we transform some of the love dynamics we experienced as children into our adult relationships. Some of us are really happy to break some cycles.

    • I doubt that there are that many people who are “bullied” into having kids. That seems really extreme. I personally don’t know anyone who has been bullied that way. As far as unwanted kids being brought into the world, most often I see spouses pressuring each other into having additional children that the other does not want, I see some people never really stopping to think whether or not they would be happy parents but having kids as part of a job- house-kids status ladder, I see a surprising number of educated people getting accidentally pregnant, and I see folks having two kids as a default because there’s a societal stigma against only children.

      But also, I think our expectations of what a parent is and what they should provide in terms of emotional support, friendship, etc. can be pretty far out of line with what earlier generations (including our parents) believe someone in that role should be doing. Parenting expectations have kind of exploded in the last several generations. “Parenting” wasn’t even a concept until the 1950s. And now you have to be enriching your child’s life 24/7 and perfectly catering to their emotional needs well into adulthood. It’s just a huge expectation. And with expectations like that comes a great deal of disappointment. The book “All Joy and No Fun” was very eye opening for me.

      I’m not saying there aren’t crappy, narcissistic, abusive parents out there. There certainly are. But I think a lot of times our expectations are part of the problem.

      • Being “bullied” into having kids is definitely a thing, FYI, in closed communities and also in interpersonal relationships. That is part of why infertility is A Big Deal, because fertility is expected.

      • Anonforthis :

        I was in firmly in camp no kids with my husband. We’re in our mid-late 30s and both of our families are completely insufferable at the moment. EVERY conversation is about kids. We’ve asked them not to raise it, we’ve declined to return their phone calls, we’ve avoided social occasions with them but none of it had any effect. So unless we both want to cut off all contact with our families (who we love very much other than this issue) we put up with it. It wears. So now we are wondering whether we should have kids. I’m pretty sure we are being bullied into it, but on some level it might just be easier than having this fight with our families until they die in 30 years or so.

        • Having an unwanted child seems like it would be harder to handle than any argument I can imagine.

    • Well, my dad never wanted kids and my mom basically just decided to have me. He was fine as a dad. At one point when I was a teen he told me he was really glad my mom forced him into it. It may have been my birthday. Oddly it never bothered me and I think he was a good dad, but we probably could have been closer? I never felt unloved though and would take our relationship over that of many of my peers with their parents.

      I do think in general some people just shouldn’t be parents and it would be great if we didn’t judge that as a society.

    • Anonymous :

      I think it’s a very privileged world view to think that only people (women, especially) who want to become parents will become parents. And that’s even with access to birth control and abortion that we have now (I can’t imagine if things get worse under our newly composed court). And sometimes the people who shouldn’t become parents are the ones most likely to become parents…

      • Parenthood :

        I completely acknowledge this which is why I find it very disturbing that even in this privileged world many might still find themselves parents against their desire. And I also understand (and my Mom the evolutionary biologist never stops reminding me) that in the current state of human existence those with the least means are contributing the most new humans to the population pool, constantly and exponentially exacerbating the uneven resource division. That said, I’m trying to address the narrow personal question of – with all the mechanisms available to middle class Western and European couples to decide their lifestyles, is it possible that people are still consciously choosing against their will to please someone else. It’s that latter possibility that strikes me so hard.

        • Anonymous :

          In case you’re still reading. There is an interesting article in the NYT, I think about what a divide there is with education and birth age in this country. One of the points it raises is how for many women motherhood still has a certain amount of social cache in the absence of other possibilities. I think this is very true for my friends who had babies ‘young’ (25) and I know at least one of them regrets it.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes, I’ve been bullied for many years about not having children. The bullying comes from everywhere – parents, friends, coworkers, doctors, basically anyone in any sphere of my life. I’ll be 35 in December and I don’t see it letting up any time soon. The societal expectations/pressures are so intense that people just won’t take no for an answer. I’ve expressed to close family and friends many times that I’m not interested in having kids and that I’ve known for a long time. It doesn’t matter what I say, they always repeat the same tired expressions…you’ll change your mind, your biological clock will start ticking…and on and on. It gets really tiresome. It is also vaguely insulting because I’ve always been a career driven person and very independent and that is constantly questioned. It is very clear that I’m successful and have a happy life. I’m not questioning anyone else’s life decisions or making them feel inadequate or wrong for their choices. My husband also doesn’t want children and we’ve known that since our first date.

      Also, to make the situation more uncomfortable for me, there’s a medical component to not having children. I have bipolar 2 and it is hereditary. The longer it is passed on in a family, the worse it gets. Knowing the struggles I’ve dealt with and that it could be worse for a child I bear, I can’t do that. I don’t care what other people with mental illness choose to do; I just know I can’t. Also, for me to be a healthy and high functioning person, I have to live a pretty regimented life with plenty of sleep, manageable stress, predictable patterns – all things that are nearly impossible for at least the first few years with children. There are also many cases of mental illness getting worse after childbirth due to all the changing hormones and body chemistry. It isn’t information that I want to disclose when people pester me endlessly about having not children. And yes, my family knows about the bipolar disorder, but many of them claim they would “help” if I had children. Yeah, right. No thank you.

      • I am very sorry to hear this. You have my sympathy and my support. If I met you in real life, I would not try to change your mind! I would respect that you are an autonomous adult and know what you want and need out of life.

  14. I’ve been working on one-in one-out for a couple of years. Some things end up in a stash of If I Lose 10 Pounds, but not hanging in the closet. I’m going on a three month moratorium on no new clothes. Will it stick? Don’t know. I might find that amazing top I need. I do keep a thrift bag and also send things to ThredUP. When I build up a several donation bags I call Purple Heart and they come get them.

  15. I’ve been going through a lot of changes the last few years. I lost 15 pounds, got pregnant, had baby #1, lost most of the baby weight but nursing for 2 years, now pregnant with #2.

    My rule since about halfway through the first pregnancy has been that only things I can wear NOW go in my dresser or closet. It’s really nice to see what I actually have to wear when I open a drawer in the morning.

    Things which don’t currently fit but might someday go in labeled bins in the basement (or at least the pile of stuff headed to the basement). Things which I’ll never like or are damaged beyond my very limited willingness to repair go in the trash or donation pile in the basement. I don’t buy anything that’s expensive enough to be worth reselling.

    After this baby, I plan to do a more extensive purge of the maternity clothes and larger sizes as I lose weight, getting it down to one or two bins of my favorite larger stuff in case of future weight gain. Fortunately, I have a lot of storage space, so the 5 bins down there now aren’t an issue.

  16. I did one big purge after law school, a little over 5 years ago. When I was finished, my closet and dresser were EMPTY and to be completely candid, I regularly stressed over what to wear (which I was doing before the purge). I think the difference is that if I hadn’t purged my closet, I’d be settling on the “good enough” clothes and since they were no longer there to fall back on, I was forced to fill my closet with only the things I really, truly love. I’m not going to lie, it took some time.

    Now, while I don’t intentionally keep a capsule wardrobe, I do keep an ongoing list of items I “need” to fill gaps and refuse to settle unless I find an item I love. I have enough sleepwear, loungewear, and activewear to get me through the week. I have a rotation of work outfits. I have the cutest weekend wardrobe. When I get a last-minute invite to an event, I have a pair of nude strappy sandals, a clutch, jewelry, and underpinnings so all I have to do is rent a dress. When I go on a last-minute trip, I have a wardrobe full of items I know I love in palettes in love. I watch my friends buy new clothes for events, trips, etc. and it stresses me out that I ever lived like that!

    Moral of the story? Make the purge!

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