Sunday, June 3, 2012

Organizing Kids Clothes - Closet Challenge

I will confess that Scott has been in charge of the laundry for many years. There is a reason for that and I guess it started with the very awkward location of the laundry room back in the days...One had to actually leave the house, go outside to the side shed/storage room to access the laundry...Imagine two sets of stairs plus rain,  plus winter cold, plus carrying the hamper...Yep, that was a man's job and it pretty much stayed that way over the years. It also helps that he particularly enjoys the task...Go figure!

This pretty convenient state of affair does have a few drawbacks though: For one, I have been out of the loop when it comes to clothing sizes (what fits and no longer fits); Scott is also the one taking care of the boys before they go to school since I leave the house early in order to be the one picking them up at night...Leaving him entirely responsible for choosing outfits etc. (You may roll your eyes now).
The other day I could not help noticing that our little guy was very obviously wearing a size or two too small, not to mention the mismatched colors and frabrics...Ok, I said, time to step in and this is what I found (I once read  that bloggers need to be truthful about what their home really looks like and one cannot get any more transparent than this):

Yep! That was my boys' closet on Friday night!

At the bottom, we have  the entire contents of a plastic bag full of used flannel pajamas I once destined for donations. Apparently one of the boys (they won't say who) went in there and pulled every thing out, of course leaving it all on the floor, in hope of finding an Angry Bird T-shirt that was, of course, nowhere near this specific location!
The rest is the usual assortment found around my house, many attempts at staying on top of things but never trully sticking with any of them. William was also nice enough to leave the bathing suit drawer open.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned here:

1. Boys, no matter the age, are incapable of sensing disorder, never mind putting things back where they belong.
2. A 5 years old cares about his clothes just as much as his 10 year old brother cares about girl stuff.
3. Neither of them will ever take responsibility for this mess.
4. I spend way too much time decorating and moving stuff around the house and not enough time taking care of the essential, lets start with the kids' clothes.

So, with a plan in mind, I have decided to take on new challenges: that of decluttering one area at a time and have it all compiled into a blog series...This is


I am certain this task will be more difficult for those of you who have more than two children, or children of different genders. However, the principle of de-cluttering and reorganizing can be generalized and I am hoping any one will find some good ideas.


I emptied the entire closet and made FIVE piles:

Pile #1: Edward  Keep Pile.
Pile #2: William  Keep Pile.
Pile #3: For Sale Items (Too small for William - Generally sizes 24M to 3T).
Pile #4: Trash (Clothes that are just too shabby and/or stained).
Pile #5: Pass Me Down Pile (Edward Clothes to keep for William).

One of the biggest concern was what to do with the really cute outfits they can no longer wear. In the past, I had kept all of Edward's clothes, which served us well since William had plenty pass me downs to wear. However, the method was really about my being overly sentimental. I have hung on to a lot of stuff over the years, thinking that perhaps they would be glad to have these items for their own kids. Really? There is no guarantee that the clothes, no matter how well I keep them would actually last another 20 or so years in storage, never mind future daughters-in-law raised eyebrows at the sight of old washed out t-shirts!
So this is what I did, and THAT was a major step for me: those items I really wanted to keep I would keep under two conditions, and two conditions only :

1. They are seen in a really cute/favorite picture or are attached to an important memory.
2. They can be cut (e.g. front of a designed T-Shirt) and used to make a memory quilt.

That method worked as it allowed me to let go of a lot of items that did not fit either condition 1 or 2.


Sort and fold those items I plan on selling. My intention is to donate everything that does not sell.

Here is the For Sale Pile:

I folded all the items as neatly as possible, stacked them in categories (short sleeve, long sleeve, etc.) and stored them in a large plastic container - they are ready for the garage sale.


Sort out the pile of clothes too small for Edward and too big for William (all the sizes 6 to 8-10).
Every Pass-Me-Down item was placed in cardboard boxes on top shelves.


Categorize and fold all the "keeper" items. I decided to keep one side of the closet for William and the opposite side for Edward.

Here are the categories which I labeled by simply folding a sheet of white paper  and placing it under each pile:

Short Sleeve Shirts
Long Sleeve Shirts
Dress Pants
Pajama Tops
Pajama Bottoms

All "collar" shirts are placed on hangers. I have belts and caps hanging from hooks as well.

William's Shirts are hanging in this closet, while Edward's are kept in the armoire which is too small to contain his entire wardrobe.

Placing labels under each pile makes it easier for Scott to file clothes back into the closet after a completed load of laundry. The boys can also easily find whatever article of clothing they are supposed to wear on any given day.

Here is the closet in its final stage:

 And a view of Edward's armoire with the closet behind it...

And that is how I came to realize that Edward does not have one single short sleeve shirt, polo or pair of shorts! I should be given the Most Out of It - Mother of the Year - Award!


More important than any of the work and painstaking folding I endured here, I plan on keeping this closet in tip-top shape, and for that I need the boys cooperation.
Step Five consisted of a 20 minute session with my boys on understanding why things are categorized and learning to fold and put back clothes that may fall off the shelves!

Here is the before and after:

I realize this is not the most dramatic before and after you have ever seen, but it did take over 5 hours to sort all the clothes and what a lesson was learned here: apart from the humility it takes to showcase yet another "fail" on my part, finding out I had not a clue the clothes issue was getting THAT out of control was a real eye opener for me!


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  2. Just saw your post...oh how I am in your boat right now except for I have double the children. And BTW, we all go through the sentimental stage of not wanting to get rid of anything that they ever wore...Thanks for the inspiration....time to tackle the closets !

  3. There are many ways to go about organizing your closet. Different methods make more sense depending on your space and what you’re storing. No matter which method you choose, these closet storage solutions  definitely helps you to reduce the space usage. Once again great post man! Cheers!

  4. Great labelling! Just don't let the little terrors get in there and mess it up!

  5. I used to help with different helping homeless families. we would watch the kids via a program with the Lutheran Church, these kids had not even 1 toy of their own or a different set of colthes to put on. what seems like trash is someones treasure. a coloring book with used crayons is a wonderful gift to a homeless child. i put up a box in my then churches lobby asking for used toys and clothes. boy i got pretty good at patching, sewing, painting and fixing old toys a child would see a flower patch or cartoon patch over a stained piece of clothes just an extra cool thing on the shirt or pants. sorry for the dissertation! homeless children just tug at my heart.

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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