Organizing your child’s closet is a great opportunity to teach him/her the value of a tidy and efficient space. It does not have to be an overwhelming task. You can make it fun by allowing him/her to pick out bins, baskets, and organizers to give the closet a personal touch. Working together with your child you can edit his/her belongings and create a place for everything.
1. Take Everything Out of the Closet
The first step is to create a blank slate. You should start by taking everything out of your child’s closet. This will allow you to see exactly what is in the closet.
Now that everything is out of the closet and piled up on the bed or floor, start going through everything in detail. What fits? What has your child outgrown? What is sentimental or a keepsake? What has your child lost interest in and won’t play with anymore? If books are stored on closet shelves, which books are they still reading or have surpassed in their reading level?
Engage your child in this purging process. Some will be interested for a longer time than others, so get through however much you can. Once they’ve lost interest you can finish up and then move to the next steps of sorting things and putting things away. The most important part for them to learn is the purging and editing step.
Once purged, sort clothes into the following categories
- Wear Now – clothes that fit now.
- Wear Later – clothes he/she will grow into.
- Storage – hand-me-downs that will be passed on to a younger sibling.
4. Get Down to Your Child’s Level
Take a look at the empty closet from your child’s perspective before re-loading. Identify minor changes that could make the space more accessible for him/her. Lowering hanging bars and adding additional child-height shelves may eliminate your child’s excuse for not putting away his/her clothes. Using dresser drawers or stackable, modular drawers on the floor inside the closet is the best way to store everyday clothes. Kids are more likely to use drawers and know where to put clothes away, instead of hanging items on hangers or folding them onto shelves. If there is room in the closet you may also consider hanging canvas pockets for categories of clothes.
5. Everything in its Place
As you have done in your closet, show your child how his/her items will be put away in distinct categories. Label anything and everything making it clear where school clothes go, where play clothes are, and most importantly their socks, underwear, and pajamas. These should always be easy to find and an easy reach for kids. They don’t always need to rely on mom and dad to access things.
Make small dressing goals accordingly as they grow. Which items can they grab and dress with? If using containers, ditch the lids (kids won’t put them on and off) and consider clear containers so they can see through to their items.
6. Shoe Storage
To avoid the pile of shoes at the bottom of the closet, designate an area just for shoes. If that area is in his/her bedroom closet, try open shelving, door hangers, or stackable plastic baskets as alternatives to the traditional shoe rack. You can also use storage bins for out-of-season shoes and dance or sports gear.
Now comes good habit-forming. Giving your child clear systems and products just for them will also help maintain an organized closet and room. For example, give them their specific laundry hamper and garbage in their room. When they are told to clean up, they can throw out trash and fill their hamper with dirty clothes. Give them the right size hangers that fit their small size and shape in clothing and possibly a step stool to make accessing things easier. Kids are constantly growing, so give them a place (a small bag or box) to put clothes that no longer fit or clothes they no longer like.
If you give them tools and teach them these small practices it will pay in dividends later when they are teenagers or off at college sharing a living space. You are teaching them practical life skills and daily habits that will impact them for the rest of their lives.