July 8, 2019

Organizing Children's Clothing

It is no small matter to keep children's clothing tidy. They are constantly growing and changing sizes so there is the matter of storing the clothing that does not fit and switching in the clothes that do. Then there is the matter of keeping the clothing that they have out tidy and organized and not all over the floor or overflowing out of the closets, drawers, and boxes.

1. First of all, have less. It is so much easier to keep clothes tidy if there is less. I try to do laundry as soon as there is a load so often that is every day, sometimes every other, or sometimes two in a day. So I don't find it necessary to have a whole lot. I aim for 3-5 pants; 2-3 shorts; 5-7 t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, underwear, socks; 1-2 pajamas, short sleeve dress shirts, long sleeve dress shirts and dress pants. Sometimes if there is extra and they are nice enough that I want to keep them, I put them into the storage for the next child since, inevitably some things will have holes and need replacing for the next child. But I try not to keep a whole lot extra. If you only do laundry once a week then you will probably need more than what I keep, but if you at least keep it to a minimum, it makes it easier to keep up with.

2. Now you need a place to store the clothing that they don't fit in. I keep Rubbermaid totes for this. I separate the clothing by sizes and put them into grocery bags, one for pants and one for shirts. I label the outside of the bag with masking tape and a permanent marker "Boys Shirts Size 3" for example. Then I put them in the box. On the outside of the box I also label it with masking tape and a permanent marker "Size 3-4T" for example. This makes it much easier to find the sizes I need when it's time to switch them out.

3. Next, you need a place to keep the clothing they do fit. It needs to be where the children can easily reach them to dress themselves and clean up their mess after. We were often very limited in space. We had four children in a two bedroom apartment and so we never made the effort to purchase dressers because we never had the space. Instead, I improvised with diaper boxes. I cut the flaps of the top of the box and labeled the front with masking tape and a permanent marker the name of the child. They each got two boxes. Then I put the clothing inside in piles of each type of clothing. I stored these boxes in the closet lined up on top of the Rubbermaid totes which stored the unused clothing. The system worked pretty well.

Since then, our system has changed. We now have a three bedroom house, but with six children. One room has two sets of bunk beds and room for nothing else so I have their clothing stored in the short Rubbermaid totes under the beds. They each have one box and it is labeled with their name and they can easily pull them out, dress themselves, and push them back under the beds.

4. Lastly, they need to be taught to clean up their own clothes when they dress. I have taught them to look at their clothes and if they are clean put them back in the box and if they are dirty to put them in the laundry. I allow a second wear with pants and shirts because this lessens the laundry and especially in the winter, they really are not very dirty. But underwear should go in the laundry everyday.  My kids are still pretty little and pretty hopeless when it comes to folding so I am satisfied as long as the clothes are in the box and under the bed, not hanging out. Sometimes I get them to put their clean laundry in their boxes after I've folded, but if I have time, I'll put it away and straighten their boxes back up when I put their laundry away. They are not allowed to come out of their room in the morning until their clothes are cleaned up and their beds made.

There are so many systems out their for organizing children's clothing and my only girl is only 10 months so I'm sure I will have an extra challenge as I add dresses and skirts into the mix. But this is working well for me right now and may give you some ideas if you are struggling with the mess of clothes!

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