How to Organize Kids’ Clothing
There’s nothing cuter than a sweet little babe in a tiny outfit! I’m here for the fun colors, beautiful classics, tiny shoes, and trendy pieces that only a baby could get away with. It’s tempting to think we need all the things – at least with a first child. Then, if siblings come along, we tend to get a little more practical. Still, the desire to hang on to things, coupled with how fast little ones outgrow pieces, contributes to kids’ clothing being a pain point in a lot of people’s homes. Here are some tips for how you can organize kids’ clothing!
Wait, didn’t I just write about how I’m here for it all – the tiny Nikes, the hair bows, and everything in between? Yes, but we live and learn. Let your available space be your parameter for how much to have. Even if you have a large closet and dresser, you do not need to fill it! It’s helpful to keep some space for extra diapers, blankets, and linens – or even just to leave empty.
Babies and toddlers outgrow their clothes in the blink of an eye!! You need less than you think. And just because you’re offered free or discounted clothes does not mean you need to accept them! You can appreciate the gesture and politely decline. Or, choose a small selection of what you really need or love, and the rest can go on to bless someone else.
If you’ve already accumulated a lot and are drowning in stuff, don’t despair. It’s never too late! You’re just due for a good edit. Remove anything that’s stained or in bad shape, and be realistic about how much you need to keep for the possibility of future children.
Having less makes sense because it means you know what you have, the clothing will actually be worn, it will fit in your available space, AND you’ll save money! It’s also a great foundation for handling ongoing maintenance – more on this below. In short, it will make your life EASIER!
Use Systems – Too Big/Too Small Bins
Kids’ clothes is not one of those “set it and forget it” categories of organization. It’s dynamic, as little ones are constantly outgrowing things. Larger sizes move in and smaller sizes move out. Having a system is KEY! I love the too big/too small bin system. I wrote about it in a post titled Organizing for Baby
Here it is, in a nutshell….keep one bin in your child’s bedroom containing clothes that are one size bigger than what they’re currently wearing. Do NOT mix sizes in one container. Bigger sizes can be stored away in a labeled bin in the garage or basement storage area. Also keep one bin of too small clothing in your child’s bedroom. That way, it’s convenient, so when something is outgrown, it can go directly into the labeled bin – or directly to be donated or sold. When it’s full, it moves to a storage area.
It’s convenient so things can be handled right away! To prevent overwhelm, you’re only keeping 2 organized bins at arm’s reach, with everything else stowed away, in bins labeled by size and gender.
Stay One Step Ahead
It’s helpful to realize that Junior needs new snow pants before you’re packing up to go sledding. I recommend going through the too big bin to see what you already have and assess what is needed for the upcoming season. Then, you can shop strategically to fill in gaps of what you need (not accumulating just because something is free, on sale, or just cute).
Donate and Sell
Good news here! There are lots of people just like you who are having babies and needing all the clothes and gear, and subsequently outgrowing it. This contributes to consignment and donation opportunities galore!
Goodwill is my go-to for donations, but there are many great options. As far as consignment, you could use Facebook marketplace, check with other parents to see what they use, and explore local consignment stores. You can save a lot of money this way, still finding cute quality items, and rest assured that you’re repurposing good clothing.
Make Maintenance a Habit
It’s easy to fall behind and feel like we’re in perpetual catch-up mode. Going through clothes seems to always be on the to-do list! While you may need some longer up front sessions to pare down and establish systems, the goal is to get to maintenance mode. Let’s create some habits! So, yes, in one sense, a habit IS always on the list because it’s something that we do repeatedly. Though, unlike a cleaning chore such as dusting, which you might do every Tuesday, make going through clothes a habit based off identifying and reacting to triggers. For example:
- Trigger 1: Child outgrows an item of clothing.
- Response: Decide what to do with it and follow through! 1. Donate, 2. Sell, or 3. Move the item to the too small bin. It’s that bin that’s already in their room – just waiting to be filled with too small clothes, right? Do it right away!
- Trigger 2: Child outgrows everything in their current size.
- Response: Move everything in that size into the too small bin (or donate or sell ) AND move items from the too big bin (next size up) into the dresser.
- Trigger 3: A change in season
- Response: Go through the too big bin to assess upcoming needs.
You get the idea. When you’re aware of these triggers and respond with the predetermined response, it’s not a big job. It’s just continual – for awhile. Once your kids reach age 4 or 5, I found that they’re not outgrowing things as quickly, and the job becomes much more manageable. Hang in there!