Sometimes I feel like organizing my children’s closets is a bit like shoveling snow. As soon as you clean it up, you look behind you and see more falling.
Alas, after doing this five times over, I’ve come to realize the most important thing is this: have a system that is easy enough so your children have ownership. If you’re the one doing all the work, then it’s just not functional. Below are my best tips for decluttering the closet, designing a workable system, installing functional shelving and sorting through the thousands of kid clothes/shoes/etc. Grab a cup of Joe, this one might take a while 🙂
HDYDI: ORGANIZE A KIDS’ CLOSET
1. Take everything out and sort it. Yep, all of it. Make those three piles you see on TV home shows – trash, donate, keep. My goal is always to keep the trash minimal, the donate pile big and the keep pile reasonable.
2. Evaluate the space. If you have a small closet, just store that child’s clothes and keepsakes there. We try to think about closet size when assigning our children their rooms. We knew the girls would care more about that than the boys, so they got the big closet. We store extra things in there space, like shoes, Halloween costumes, winter jackets and “keepsake” clothes (more on that in a second). The boys have limited space, so we adjusted the design accordingly.
Girls Closet “Before”
Girls’ Closet “After”
Boys’ Closet “After”
3. Map out the space. If you can swing it, you should really take down the manufactured shelving home builder’s put in the closet and start over. The reality is, vertical space is your most precious commodity. One shelf and one clothes rod is not efficient storage management. A man must’ve planned those closet systems! My favorite solution is elfa from the Container Store, but I only buy closet systems during their annual 30% off sale that runs December 24-President’s Day. Several home improvement stores offer wired shelving options for less money. Whatever you choose, make it a system that can grow with your child. You can also enter your dimesions on the Container Store’s website and they kick back a design to you within 24 hours. Even if you don’t use them for everything, it’s a great “dream” of how a closet organizer would utilize your space. And, it’s free!
4. Bust out the Kleenex. During Lent, I got rid of *almost* 40 bags of stuff. It is hard to let things go – at least it is for me – when it comes to my kids. For some weird maternal reason, I have such strong memories associated with my children’s clothes. It is hard, but it has to be done. It is not right to live in such abundance when others go without. I found GREAT joy in donating many of their clothes to our local children’s therapy gym where Luke goes for therapy. Yes, you can definitely donate them to Goodwill or sell them in a garage sale, but we have such a strong connection to our therapists and I know so many of those children need clothes. For the ones I just couldn’t part with, there is a solution.
5. Set aside a “special clothes” box and create a “keepsake” box. I have one special clothes box for the girls (combined) and one box for the boys. In it, I have special outfits like the hospital “going home” outfit, preemie clothes and other special outfits that have the strongest emotions. It allowed me a compromise. I could keep some, but they had to fit in the box. The rest had to go. For the “keepsake” box I have things like their baptismal candle, baptism/first communion cards and other special keepsakes that don’t fit into their baby albums. Yes, I actually have one for every child and they are all updated. I’ll do a HDYDI about all that this summer!
6. For clothes storage, we do two things. We have a two-tier clothes rod. The clothes on the upper rod are from the previous season and/or year and the ones on the lower rack are for wearing now. Sometimes, we’ll hit the end of a season, but my kids haven’t really outgrown the outfit. I know they might be able to wear it for a month or two when the season rolls around again, so we keep it in plain sight so I don’t forget about it! You could always put it at the back of the closet, at the end of the rod, if you don’t have space for an upper/lower hanging system. The other option is to purchase clear plastic containers and label them by sex/season/size. I made a handy checklist (Clothes storage) that I slipped into a plastic sleeve and then put in the front of the container so I could easily locate “Boys, Fall/Winter, 4T clothes,” for example. Just be sure before you put anything in storage that you sort it first. If it’s torn or damaged, trash it. If it’s something you want to donate, put it in your donate pile and get it out of the closet. Only store things you want your kids to wear again, otherwise you’re taking up valuable real estate.
7. Start loading everything back into the space and LABEL, LABEL, LABEL. We put seldom used items on the top shelves (sleeping bags, luggage, blankets and their “childhood box”). We opted to forgo buying dressers and utilized the basket shelves from The Container Store. Money. Well. Spent. (or actually not spent!) We’ve made them eye level so they are within reach and they hold underwear, socks and pajamas. The girls have extra bling, like the letters with ribbons to hold all their bows (rainbow color order, of course). Trust me, Clare could sing the rainbox song at age 3. We also store their headbands and shoes on the shelves, along with blankets, stuffed animals and pillows. I found these great label templates on BH&G, Bin Storage_green.
8. Make it a priority to keep everything off the floor. There is nothing I hate more than a closet floor I can’t see. Think vertical!
9. The best part, is I can send my kids upstairs on laundry day and they can put 95% of their clothes up by themselves. I do a quick sweep on Monday mornings and spend about 10 minutes putting things back in order. Truth be told, the kids’ closets look like this most of the time because they know how the system works.
10. A happy child makes a happy momma!