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5 Tips for Kid's Clothes in Small Spaces

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

After nearly 20 years of sorting and storing kids clothes in a small space… I have discovered a couple of tried and true basics that have stood the test of time when organizing kids clothes. Here are a few tips that I have come to discover are real difference makers.

TIP 1: Fold t-shirts/tops with identifying characteristics facing out. This might seem ridiculously easy and unnecessary, but after YEARS of doing this… I can undoubtedly say it’s an organization keeper. I started this when my boys were young and I would discover the hard way that one of my son’s had gone through every gray t-shirt looking for his favorite. With probably 10 + gray t-shirts and most of the identifying characteristics on the front… the typical way of looking meant my son would “open” each one up to find his favorite. This translated to a pile of disheveled freshly laundered clothes falling out of his draw. So instead, I simply started folding shirts with the identifying characteristic facing out. This meant his shirts could be told apart at a glance instead of having to “unfold” each one. To my surprise, this actually worked and so with absolutely zero extra effort and no additional space, the boys rooms stayed neater longer. Winner!

TIP 2: Store clothes vertically. This method of “filing” clothes instead of stacking them has been made popular by the KonMari method… and I am here to tell you that this is another organization keeper for kids and adults alike. Just like step one above… this allows your child to see each of their clothes at a glance. Removing clothes neatly might still be a skill you still need to help him learn… but even if a couple of items either side get rumpled… it won’t be as bad as finding an entire draw dumped out in search for one item on the bottom. For tips on how to fold using this method, see this youtube video:

TIP 3: Have a dedicated sports/activity draw. This is another ABSOLUTE keeper and was literally one of my best ideas for staying organized with kids and avoiding those last minute panics looking for uniform, team socks, etc. In our house, each kid has one draw which holds the current season’s uniform/clothing attire, including any under gear (Underarmour, etc.). I.E., during soccer season, the soccer t-shirts/shorts/socks are ALL in the sports/activity draw and not spread out among varying sock, short, and t-shirt draws. With one draw dedicated ALL sports/activities attire (clothing NOT equipment), this makes finding everything SO much easier and super quick to check whether everything is clean and ready for the next game/class. We still use this technique to this day. Right now, in my 13 year old daughters sports/activity draw, you’ll find her dance shorts, tights, sports bras, as well as her field hockey jersey, skirt and socks. These items might seem like they don’t belong together… but these are her “extra-curricular” items and she ALWAYS knows where to find them. You’ll never hear her yelling in a panic “Mom… where’s my jersey??” or “Where are my dance tights??”. If it’s clean… she knows where it is. If you are limited on space… you can combine multiple kids into one draw. The real point being, items are gathered into one spot for convenience. This also makes it easy to rotate out out of season attire, so the baseball pants aren’t wasting space during ski season, etc.

TIP 4: Listen to your kids and trust their judgment. Admittedly… this was a lesson I was slow to come around to. For years, if I came across a good deal or if someone gave us what I thought was a great hand me down, I would hold onto it even if the intended child never wanted it or even wore it. For example… there were those practically brand new Ugg boots that were handed down to my daughter, which I felt she should be thrilled to have. She immediately told me she didn’t want them, but I was convinced that she was lucky to have them and that she would soon change her mind. The fact was… those Ugg boots sat in her closet and she NEVER wore them! The same with that North Face coat, and those Abercrombie t-shirts. Because I knew how expensive these items were new… I was convinced that my daughter was being ridiculous and would snap to and want them in her wardrobe soon enough. My daughter has always known what she likes… and despite my differing opinion, if she doesn’t want an item, she won’t wear it. It was me who was stubbornly ignoring her and wasting precious closet and dresser space on items I felt she “should” want in my not-so humble opinion. It wasn’t until after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and discovering art of only keeping what sparks joy in my own wardrobe… that I was finally able to realize I was wasting time and space trying to convince my daughter of what I thought should spark joy for her. SHE is the one that knows what sparks joy in HER life and I was hoarding items for her that I wanted her to like. When I finally decided to stay out of it and let my daughter go through her own wardrobe and keep only what “sparked joy” for herself… her closet and dresser were suddenly 1/2 as full and 200% more efficient!!!

TIP 5: You don’t have to accept hand me downs! This is very much tied into Tip #4 and one I was also slow to come around to. I had friend with great taste and who’s hand me downs always included barely worn brand name clothes from her two daughters. This was a gravy train that felt too good to turn down… but after a while I realized that regardless of the amount of clothes that were coming in, there were only a handful of clothes my daughter ever actually wore. This wasn’t because my daughter didn’t appreciate hand me downs, she did, and she would wear them without concern if she liked them. But, the fact remained that she just didn’t share the same aesthetic. Like all of us… she has her favorite items that she naturally rotates through. What I came to realize was that with our limited space these bags of “free” clothes were more of a burden than a blessing. They became a chore to be sorted, more stuff to be stored and often came with guilt that they weren’t fully appreciated. Not wanting to appear unappreciative, it took some time for me to finally say to my friend, “thanks but no thanks”... but when I finally did... I realized I was happier not to have all that extra stuff coming into our lives.

Bonus Tip): Use small laundry baskets! I’ve mentioned this before and it is an incredibly simple tip that I was also slow to come around to. But I have definitely discovered through experience that smaller laundry baskets make for better organization. They are more manageable and appear full faster, which in turn means that you unconsciously do laundry more frequently… and the smaller baskets make for quicker loads of laundry, and quicker folding etc. Trust me on this one… those larger laundry baskets (which I used for years!) allow you to wait too long between loads, in turn increasing the amount of carrying, cleaning and folding… which in turn leads to further procrastination. When I switched to smaller laundry baskets… not only were they lighter to carry, more maneuverable through small doorways, hallways or stairways, but they also unwittingly led to me staying more on top of laundry… simply because the “full” loads came in more manageable sizes. Don’t believe me?…try it! I bought these 6 solid and easily stackable laundry baskets for practically nothing and realize that I wish it was something I did year ago!

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