A common organizing challenge that I tackle when working with young families is kid clothing. Kid clothing presents a unique challenge, because unlike most adults whose size remains (relatively!) consistent from year to year, kids are constantly growing. Whatever size they are currently is likely NOT the size they will be a year from now. To make the process even more maddening, kids’ growth rates are completely unpredictable.
To illustrate how the Kids’ Clothing Challenge plays out, I’ll use the example of one of my clients. This client has two daughters who are approximately 3 years apart. She was drowning in kids’ clothing and enlisted me to design a system to manage it. The kids’ wardrobe included clothes in the following categories:
1. Clothes that currently fit Kid #1
2. Clothes that currently fit Kid #2
3. Clothes that both kids have outgrown
4. Clothes purchased for the future (too big for either kid)
5. Clothes that Kid #1 has outgrown, but are too big for Kid #2
Photo © Depositphotos.com / Sergey Novikov
This Mama was overwhelmed, and it’s easy to see why! So, how did we tackle the mess? Using these four easy steps:
Step 1: Sort
We began by going through each piece of clothing and sorting them into the five categories outlined above. Clothing in Category 3 (Clothes that both girls have outgrown) were further sorted into the following categories: Donate, Consign, and Keepsakes.
Step 2: Purge
Clothes that were in great shape (no rips, stains, tears) and currently in season were packed up and taken to a local consignment store. The out-of-season items designated for consignment sale were set aside in the basement, ready to be taken to the store when the proper season arrived. The remaining outgrown items were taken to Goodwill for donation. FYI, my client made a few hundred dollars consigning these outgrown items…Cha Ching! The client allowed herself to keep one large plastic bin of “keepsake” clothing items that held special meaning for her. This bin was placed in the attic for long-term storage.
Step 3: Organize/Containerize
Next, clothing that currently fit the girls (Categories 1 and 2) was hung back in their respective closets or placed into the dresser drawers. That left us with Category 4 and 5 clothing.
We organized the Category 4 and 5 items by size and season and designated a plastic bin for each of these groupings.
We then carved out some shelf space in the basement for these “Future Clothing” bins, and placed them in order by size/season. Voila! Our system was in place.
Step 4: Maintain
Once the clothing system was in place, I outlined the action items that the client would need to do routinely in order to maintain the status quo. We placed an empty (lidless) bin on the bottom of each girls’ closet, which she now uses to collect outgrown clothing items throughout the year.
In the spring and fall, the client empties out these bins and take Category 3 items to either the consignment store or to Goodwill. In addition, she makes a trip to the basement each spring and fall to a) relocate new Category 5 clothes to their appropriate bin, and b) retrieve the appropriate “future” clothing bin for the upcoming season for each girl.
Got kids? Leave a comment below to share how you tackle the Kids Clothing Challenge!