The Simple System You Need To Know To Organize Kids’ Clothes

The Simple System You Need To Know To Organize Kids’ Clothes

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Organizing kids’ clothes – making sure they have seasonally appropriate clothes that fit, managing hand-me-downs, and dealing with outgrown clothes – takes an incredible amount of time.

With three kids in our family, it seems like somebody is always growing out of one size and into another.  Then, as soon as we’ve got everyone a wardrobe that fits, the seasons change and we’re back at square zero.  With two years between each of my kids, I like to pass down what I can.  However, it doesn’t take long for the sheer amount of clothes to become unmanageable.

Here’s the simple system I use to stay organized, so that everyone has clothes that fit, and we’re not buying more than we need.

Woman organizing kids clothes

1. Take stock of what you have

I do two major rounds of clothes shopping per year – one in the spring and one in the fall.  Before buying anything, I take stock of what each child has, what fits, and what shape it’s in.

  • Does anything from last year fit, or do I need to buy a size up?
  • What do I have for hand-me-downs?
  • Is there anything that I’ve purchased ahead?  (I don’t regularly purchase ahead as I find it tough to predict sizes, but I will occasionally if I stumble across a great deal.  If I do, I make sure to always put the too-big clothes in the same place, so that they aren’t forgotten about later!)

The best way to avoid overbuying is to make sure you have a good idea of what you have before buying anything new.

Related article: The Invisible Mental Load and How to Reduce It

2. Buy only what you need

Once I know what I have for each child, I make a list of the clothing each of them need for the upcoming season.

I keep my children’s wardrobes fairly minimal – I would rather do laundry more often than be drowning in clothes.  Fortunately, my boys aren’t too concerned yet about what they’re wearing, and fewer choices makes it easier for them to choose their clothes each day.  I admittedly have more clothes for my daughter (there are so many more options!), but I am trying to reign it in, as even with a larger wardrobe I find myself reaching for the same favourites over and over.

My list for each child is very specific.  I keep it in a Google document, so that I can easily reference it on my computer when I’m shopping online, or on my phone when I’m out in a store.  I write down the size (are my kids the only ones that are always a different size on tops vs. bottoms vs. PJs??), and the quantity needed for each item, and delete things as I purchase them.

3. Weed out as you go

Once you have a seasonally appropriate wardrobe for each child that fits, the challenge is to keep it that way.

If you’ve noticed that an item of clothing no longer fits, or it’s stained or ripped beyond repair, do not let it go back in the drawer.  If you do, chances are you, your child, or your spouse will reach for it again.

In our house, items that are stained or ripped beyond repair are immediately thrown out.  Items that are salvageable to use again go into a grow-out bin that I keep in each of the kids’ closets.  Then, when I sort through their clothes each season (or when the bin is overflowing – whichever happens first!), I decide what to do with the too-small clothes.

4. Store, sell, or donate

When I go through the kids outgrown clothes each season, I divide everything into three piles: store, sell, or donate.

I have two boys, and my youngest is a girl. The majority of my older son’s clothes are passed down, as are any gender neutral items that my younger son has outgrown.  I look at everything very critically before I pack it up for storage.  If something was barely worn by my older child because it wasn’t comfortable, wasn’t practical, or just wasn’t my style, it goes straight into the sell or donate pile.  There’s no point in taking up valuable storage space with something that’s never going to be worn.

The remaining clothes are either sold or donated.  We sell a lot of outgrown clothes that are in good condition on Facebook buy and sell sites.  To make my life easier, I wait until I have all of our clothing in a particular size, and post it in “lots” at the beginning of the appropriate season.  This often means that I’m holding on to items for an extra 6 months or so, but this works for me, because:

  • I find that people are more likely to buy in season clothes.
  • As time passes I’m less attached to the clothes, so it’s easier for me to make the decision to get rid of them (as opposed to holding on to keepsake items). 

We also donate some items or give them away to friends who can use them.

Related article: Goodbye to the Baby Years

5. Organize hand-me-downs to make them easy to find

Organization is key for the hand-me-downs, and items I’m storing to sell at a later date.  Everything is organized by size and by type, to make it easy to find what I’m looking for later.

For example, I have a bin with size 3T boys clothes.  Within the bin, I sort the items by type or season, and place them in extra large ziploc bags labelled accordingly, i.e. “3T long-sleeved shirts” or “3T warm weather”.  This makes it easy for me to pull out only what I need – if my younger son grows into 3T at the beginning of summer, there’s no reason for me to weed through the long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and warm pants to get to what I want.

Similarly, if I’m storing something to sell later, I will label it as such – i.e. “Size 12-18 month warm weather clothes – sell in the spring”.  Taking a little bit more time to organize and label items when I’m packing them up saves me a ton of time in the long run – which is important when I’m doing this for three kids!

Related article: 8 Simple Habits for an Organized Home

How do you deal with the never-ending task of kids clothes?  Any helpful tips or tricks that work for you?

Simple system for organizing kids clothes

3 thoughts on “The Simple System You Need To Know To Organize Kids’ Clothes”

  • This is a constant struggle for us, and we only have two kids! Great tips. My kids are also close in age, and now I’m having the added challenge of my husband getting confused and not knowing which clothes go where. I really shouldn’t complain, at least he is putting away the laundry!

    I need to get better at the ‘weeding out as you go’ that you mentioned. I’m having trouble parting with baby stuff but it’s piling up. I’ll be revisiting this post soon, when I start to tackle that mountain.

    • I’m the same! I finally got rid of my baby boy clothes (except for a few keepsakes) last year after my daughter was born, but it was easier because more time had passed since my boys had worn them. I’m having a harder time with my daughter’s baby clothes – I think it’s because I’m in denial that she’s so big already!

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