Whether you’re naturally neat or have to work really hard at it, we can all agree that organization is a game-changer. As parents, our minds are in 20 places - so keeping our exterior environment organized can truly have a calming effect on the inner chaos. This article focuses exclusively on your children’s closets and will give you actionable tips on how to create a space that you actually want to look at!
Clean Out The Closet First
This may seem obvious - but the first rule of thumb when organizing anything is to clean out the clutter first!
Since kids are constantly growing, this typically needs to be done about 2-4 times per year, depending on your child. Some experts recommend doing a clothing haul at the start of every new season. I find it’s more effective to go through clothing around my children’s growth spurts. We live in South Florida and don’t experience many seasonal changes, so choose what works best for your children and their environment.
What Do You Do with All the Clothes?
I'm sure you've cleaned out clothes before and know how the process goes, but here are some new tips you should consider:
* Keep : Only keep clothes in good condition. No holes. No stains that will never come out. Don’t hold on to items with the intention that your child will wear it during arts and crafts. If it’s in the drawer, then it’s fair game – and your child will surely grab that old, stained shirt and insist on wearing it to a birthday party or some other public occasion. Been there, done that - spare yourself the drama.
*Donate: Unless your friends/family specifically request outgrown clothing, I highly recommend donating items to a local not-for-profit organization and skip donating to family/friends. According to Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she believes that when you donate your items to a friend, you are actually placing a burden on them. Essentially, you are removing your clutter and adding it to your friend’s house. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, so just use your best judgement.
* Sell : If you invest in quality pieces for your children, you can absolutely try to sell them. In my experience, the easiest way to go about selling high-quality, used clothing is through an app called Poshmark. There is a huge market for designer kid’s clothing on Poshmark and if the piece is a trendy item from a well-known brand, then items typically sell quickly. They must be in good condition and priced reasonably. I’ve also seen parents list and sell items through Instagram using hashtags such as #kidsclothesforsale.
* Save : There are only 2 reasons to save clothes – for younger siblings or for a sentimental box. If you have a younger child that will need these clothes in the future, only save the clothing that is in great condition. Spare your younger one the super faded pair of jeans at the verge of holes in the knees. I recommend saving clothing in plastic or cloth bins, and labeling the bins based on size. If you are saving items in a “sentimental box”, stick to special occasion wear or baby’s first outfits. (Myself, my younger sister, my daughter and my niece were all baptized in the exact same dress! This makes me smile so I absolutely understand the reasoning behind saving heirloom pieces.) Keep the amount of saved items to only one box - any more than that and you are entering clutter territory!
Create Your Organization System
Once you’ve gotten rid of the items you no longer need, you can come up with the best way to organize the closet. Because all closets are different shapes and sizes, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Review Your Space & Group Items in Categories
The layout and size of the space you are working with is the biggest factor in determining the best organizational system. Folding works best for t-shirts, shorts, pants, leggings, jeans and pajamas. Save the hanging space in the closet for dresses, jackets, slacks and nicer, special occasion outfits. If you don’t have a dresser or a hanging closet, you can always improvise! The selection of organizational products on the market is endless. Check out Target or The Container Store for some options. 5 Tier hangers work wonders if you’re short on hanging space and 3 drawer portable closet organizers are a good substitute if your child doesn’t have a dresser in the room.
You can either use different colored bins for different categories, or use all the same color for cohesiveness. Most importantly, label each bin. This will help your child (and you) to keep organized. Items that work well in bins include: swimwear, dancewear (leotards), socks, underwear, and accessories (hats, gloves). If you’re short on drawer space, opt for PJs in a bin as well because no one cares if they get a bit wrinkled.
Always Have a ‘Donate Bin’ in Your Closet
It’s useful to have a bin in the closet specifically dedicated to collecting items that your child has outgrown. When you come across items that shrink in the wash or don’t fit properly anymore, toss them in the bin and you don’t need to deal with it further until the next clothing overhaul.
If you take anything away today, let it be this - fold clothes so they can be filed/ organized vertically, allowing every item to be clearly visible all at once. Implementing this process in my children’s drawers (and my own) has had the single largest impact on keeping clothing organized and easily accessible. I learned how to fold clothes using The KonMari Method from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – yes, I’m mentioning this book again....... and yes, I highly recommend reading it. This system allows children to see exactly what clothes they have, without having to move or shift any items within the drawer – this naturally results in less mess and more efficient dressing. If you need help, search "Marie Kondo folding" on YouTube and you will find tons of videos on how to fold this way.
Go High Or Go Low
Use the top of the closet or the area under the bed to store items that aren’t frequently used - such as large bulky coats or snow boots. Always store items in a bin or container. You don’t want to collect a bunch of dust all over your items. Oversized zip-lock storage bags are inexpensive and work well too!
Image via Attic Mag
Most importantly, make sure every single piece has a home. Do you have any awesome organizational tips that I’ve missed? If so, please share in the comments below!