A Stressed Out Mom’s Guide to Minimalist Kid Gear

We’ve all been there. You open the coat closet and everything comes tumbling out. You don’t know where their boots are, if they even have boots that fit. Seasonal gear can be a pain when it comes to multiple children since not only is it expensive, it seems everything is single use so you need 10 weights of jackets, 7 pairs of shoes, and oh if I could only find their paw patrol hat!

Today I want to talk with you about how I take the stress out of the colder months and prepare a minimalist coat closet that covers all the needs we have (here in the Pacific Northwest) for the fall/winter season.

Just a note, this post does contain links to brands and products from a multitude of sources. Most of them are not affiliate links, but I will receive some type of benefit for referring you (you can also obtain a referral link for friends and family). There is however one link to Amazon that will provide an affiliate benefit that helps me keep my blog up and running. I thank you as always for your support.

Take Inventory

But, Miranda you just told me that you’re going to make this simple, and that will take forever. Yup, we need to go through that closet (and the kid’s rooms, and the car, and the… look everywhere) and find what we already have. Put them in separate piles for who the items belong to. Resist the urge to hunt down children as you find things, just put them in their respective piles. For me, I can’t put those piles on the floor or my children become little trolls who must try on every precious piece. So, I end up putting the piles on my bed, and shutting the bedroom door to keep the little angels out.

Once you have the items sorted, check the tags for sizes. If you know for sure your 5 year old isn’t a size 3T anymore, look it over and decide if you want to gift this to a friend or resell it (upcoming post on that one!) or if it’s more of a donation kind of thing. Make your decision and put it either in a bag to donate, sell, or regift. Once it’s in the bag, do not touch it. The remaining items you can have your child try on and see if they fit/will continue to fit for the rest of the season. Once you know what you have, either put it all in a bag, box, or just separate it so we can work with it later.

When we are done with all the contents of your seasonal gear, We are going to look for duplicates. Does your 4 year old have three rain jackets? You can either have them pick their favorite, or you pick yours and decide to donate, sell, or regift the other two. The goal is a simplified closet where we can see everything and we cover all our bases without having excess clutter that stresses us out. I know, I know, I had the same worry too; “but what if they leave their jacket in the car and we can’t find it, or what if we lose one boot in the house?” Then, we will find it. Simplifying your coat closet means there’s more room for what matters. Everything can actually have a space to belong. Which encourages better care of what we have. I’m not going to pretend there isn’t a learning curve if you’re not used to a simplified closet. But, it’s well worth the learning curve when you consider that you’re teaching your kids to take care of their stuff and protect your sanity.

What do I need?

This is kind of a loaded question. When I think of the weather where I live, it’s usually wet from about September through May. So, we need rain gear in particular. It also gets very cold (not midwest cold, but cold) so we like fleece jackets and a good hat with ear coverage. We usually do get snow, so I prefer to either have quality rain boots that can double in the snow, or if I find an excellent sale on snow boots, they’re nice to have even for cold winter nights to keep feet and ankles warm. Other than that, for us, we don’t do a lot of hiking in the winter or need much in the way of separate base layers, so we tend to use our cotton pajamas as an extra layer when it’s exceptionally cold here. We forgo canvas shoes for a solid play shoe that has traction, foot support, and is great for climbing trees or running at the park. Now, let’s talk about what I allowed in my closet this year.

What’s in my closet?

Let’s go through what I’ve chose to have in my hall closet this season for my almost 4 year old as an example. I’ll put links to purchase where I can, but a lot of gear I find at end of season discount or on discount sites such as zulily.com for the best prices. I’ll be sure to note if I did get something on sale, how you can also snag quality items at a discount as well!

For her, we have only these three pairs of shoes in the closet. Of course we have a pair of dress shoes as well, but those are kept in her room. Over the last few years, I’ve found that from September through May, these are the shoes that are most practical. I make sure to pick colors/prints that match most everything in her closet so it’s pretty neutral.

When it comes to everyday shoes, the Ty shoe from Plae is our ideal shoe. I love the way it adds extra protection over her toes, the velcro fasteners are secure and easy for her to put on or take off by herself. We’ve went through a lot of shoes over the years, and Plae are the only ones that will still be kicking in the spring time. They wash up like a dream in the washing machine, and for us while they are an investment, they are the best shoes we’ve ever put on our kid. We love Plae. (For wide footed children or children who have adaptive wear, such as braces or insoles, the insoles are meant to be removed to create excess space in the shoe. Our Wide footed, high-instep toddler loves her Plae as well!

It’s taken us a while to find rain boots that sensory wise are something our kiddo wants to wear. Finding soft rubber boots instead of hard plastic ones seems to be the winning ticket for us. Last year, she wore ones by Hatley and they were divine. They were soft, flexible, easy to put on and take off, as well as a bright red and navy design she loved. This year I opted for a similar soft rubber style, but by Joules this time. I found the pair on Zulily.com at a deep discount (and snagged a matching pair for her sister). When it comes to finding quality boots there’s a couple things I look for. First, soft rubber. If they’re actually rubber boots they will say so on the listing or on the site. Secondly, make sure to double check against the manufacturer’s website as to what the MSRP actually is, and if they have a better deal under clearance or outlet. For instance, I found some Bogs on a discount site that said they were marked down from $70 to $35, but turns out on the actual Bogs site, they were running a special for $28 with free shipping. Taking a minute to double check you’re getting a good deal can sometimes really pay off. Also, make sure to measure your children’s feet to make sure that you’re getting the correct size and that they will fit their feet appropriately. There are tutorials on YouTube on how to do this, and oftentimes manufacturer’s websites will also give you a tutorial and figures for the length of the insole and outersole of their shoes. Another page I often find boots at a good price is Nordstrom Rack or 6PM.

Hands down, my favorite place to find kid’s snow boots is on Zulily.com. I snagged this pair for $9.99 with a free shipping code. I’m not looking for a whole lot with our family when it comes to snow boots. I prefer a cinching top since my child has slim calves so there’s a good fit. But, really since we don’t spend an exorbitant amount of time in the snow, I’m looking to keep the cold out and enough room to layer some socks.

While we love Target and Walmart for a lot of things, when it comes to a fleece jacket that will be worn practically every day from now til Summer, we prefer to shop through Columbia Sportswear. If you haven’t shopped direct through Columbia before, ooooh do I have some tips for you. Take a moment and join their free “membership” program and it scores you free shipping even on clearance items! Also, just like shopping their outlet, they have fantastic deals I’ve never seen in a secondary retailer. We are a huge fan of Columbia and their rewards program keeps us loyal. Check them out!

Due to the deals I find at Columbia at end of season (especially for outlet) I try to shop a couple seasons ahead on their clearance and usually I score some really good finds! It’s pretty important for us to have a heavy duty “ski” style jacket for night events and winter days. A good example of a score is the jacket I scored for my 4 year old this year at the outlet. It was originally $120 but I paid $30. This jacket will get lot’s of love this winter and when the season is over it will be great to pass down to her sibling, resell, or give as a hand me down to friends.

The last jacket of this collection is going to be a rain jacket. this is just a lightweight shell that crumples up great in my mom-bag, in a backpack, or just as a backup for when we are having a sprinkly day that doesn’t demand warmth. These are easy to pick up anywhere, but once again I found mine on deep discount from Columbia.

The last two items of this post are bonus items that we find incredibly useful.

The first is a good hat. We look for one that is neutral, has ear flaps, and is a natural fiber if possible. This one in particular I purchased second hand and is a soft wool. We love natural fibers since they tend to wick away moisture, and are versatile. If you’re not a fan of wool, then hemp, cotton, or bamboo could be great choices as well!

If you’ve been a reader on the blog for a while, you’ve seen my kids in these suits. Muddy Buddy suits by tuffo are the ultimate minimalist game changer in my opinion. Is it snowing? Layer it over some warm layers and you’ve got a snowsuit! Is it raining? This will keep their clothes dry and carseats dry on the way home! Are you finger painting? It keeps their clothes clean and you can just wipe them down when they’re done! While it’s difficult to find these on sale, we get so much use out of them, I don’t mind shelling out the $30 on Amazon for it.

Thanks for visiting the blog today. I’m so glad you came. Let me know in the comments below what your gear necessities are!

Until next time,

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