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Housekeeping with Maslow*: CLOTHING

CLOTHING LEVEL I: Everybody needs clean clothes every day.

Everyone should have at least three of everything: one to wear, one for the drawer, and one for the wash. Of course babies and toddlers go through several outfits daily, but if you have one of these, you already know that. Teenagers can be messy too, not to mention spouses. With a full household, you may have to do laundry every day: wash a load, dry a load, and fold a load. This takes about 15 minutes. Don’t let wet laundry sit too long in the washer!

After the age of ten children can fold and put away their own clothes – just make piles for everyone and put them on their beds. The neat kids will fold them and the messy kids will stuff them in a drawer or throw them in the closet. It’s up to you if you want to deal with that. I just refused to wash anything I knew hadn’t been worn because cleaning your room doesn’t mean putting everything on the floor into the hamper.

CLOTHING LEVEL II: New and seasonally appropriate clothing, such as school clothes and winter jackets. By “new,” I mean new to you – chain thrift stores like Value Village and Goodwill are invaluable for clothing a family on a budget. Shop at a discount or big box store for shoes and underwear, which should be purchased new for safety and health reasons. Everyone deserves new underwear, and used shoes can deform growing feet and harbor fungus.

Everyone should have school or work clothes, a warm jacket, summer clothing, and perhaps even a special outfit for holidays and fancy occasions. Thrift stores have all of these and more; some even still have the retail tags on them! Second-hand baby & toddler clothes are usually in good shape because children grow out of them before they wear out. Check out garage sales that advertise toddler things. Consignment shops are a wonderful source for fancy little suits and dresses.

When they are older, get your children involved. Twice a year – before school and summer vacation – I would take mine to Value Village, give them each a cart and one hour to choose school or vacation clothing. They made good choices. They also thought it was cool, and still shop there. Thrifting saved money for art & karate lessons and trips to Disneyland, and they understood that because we talked about it.

Thrifting also keeps things out of landfills and people out of slave-labor clothing factories.

CLOTHING LEVEL III: Upcycling or making your own, only if that is fun for you. It is fun for me, when I have the time. I especially love using vintage patterns, which is how I got into collecting and then selling them. Check out my early 70s robe made from an early 70s sheet!

*Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory consisting of a five-tier of human needs, often depicted as a pyramid.  Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. ( In other words: food, clothing, and shelter, in that order, are the most basic of human needs. It occurred to me that I could use this simple list to prioritize homemaking and housekeeping.