Do you have more than one child (or are blessed with hand-me-downs)? Learning how to organize kids’ clothes for easy access to season-appropriate items is a HUGE time and budget saver. Here's how to keep your sanity along with your clothing budget money!
Do you remember sorting piles of freshly laundered, brand new baby clothes as you dreamed about your growing family? Ahhhhh, sweet memories. Now fast forward a few years (and maybe add in a couple of extra kids) and there are few things that bring more terror to a mom’s eyes than the dreaded chore of having to ORGANIZE KIDS' CLOTHES. What a mess!
Not only do kids constantly create dirty clothes (so.many.grass stains!), but then they have the nerve to grow out of them! Geesh! We might want to reuse kids clothes, but which ones are worth keeping? Where do we put them? How do we rotate them in an orderly way?
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If the actual chore of organizing kids clothes makes you want to curl up in the fetal position, read on for actionable tips and hand me down systems that will make mama smile (you can thank me later!).
WHY SHOULD WE SAVE HAND ME DOWNS?
You will find a hundred different opinions about keeping kids’ hand me downs. The bottom line is this: if you have multiple children and adequate space, handing down your kids’ clothing to younger siblings (or getting them from older cousins) keeps valuable cash in your pocket. An added benefit of saving clothes for younger siblings is you get another chance (or two!) to see those adorable little outfits on more of your offspring!
WHAT ITEMS ARE WORTH SAVING FOR HAND ME DOWNS?
Don’t make the mistake of hanging onto stained, ripped, or otherwise unappealing clothes. Just the act of being thoughtful in your selection makes it so much easier to organize your kids clothes later! Here are some general guidelines for which clothes are worth saving for younger siblings (if they’re still in good shape).
HAND ME DOWN CLOTHES YOU SHOULD SAVE
- School Uniforms
- Clothing for Sports (leotards, baseball pants, soccer pants, etc.)
- Shirts in classical patterns/styles
- Pants/leggings with no holes, rips, or stains
- Snow Gear (coats, hats, mittens, snow pants, boots)
- Church Clothing (dresses, suits, dress shirts)
- Halloween Costumes (great for dress-up)
Probably not worth saving:
- Trendy clothing (with a high probability of going out of style)
- Underwear (trust me on this one)
Pro Tip: Keep hand me down shoes and sports equipment in their own containers. It's easier to find a pair of shoes by looking in one shoe bin than clothing bins sorted by age.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO ORGANIZE KIDS' CLOTHING?
Sometimes you suddenly discover your kid has sprouted up a few inches and could face a flood without wetting their hems. #HelloHighwaters Stay ahead of the game! Here is how to regularly organize and rotate kids hand me down clothes.
ROTATE CLOTHING AT THE BEGINNING OF EVERY SEASON
Rotating clothes seasonally makes sense because it is easy to remember. It also ensures that your kid doesn’t look like a wrestler trying to make weight.
As a new season approaches, take the time to go through all of the drawers (I know!!!) and the closets (I’m crying with yooouuuu!). Decide which things should stay and which can be put aside for the next year (or for a younger sibling).
ROTATE CLOTHING EVERY SIX MONTHS
If you live somewhere where a new season doesn’t require a closet overhaul, you can rotate clothes every six months. Mark the dates in your Productivity Planner (like January and June). Then set aside an afternoon to get ‘er done.
CREATE A ROTATION STATION IN A STORAGE ROOM
Besides being a catchy name perfect for freestyle rapping, if you have space, setting up an area for outgrown clothes is an amazing, functional option.
Purchase a portable clothing rack and place it out of the way (think storage area or unused closet). Add a few labeled bins for anything you don’t want to hang up, and voila! Now, when you notice a kid has outgrown a pair of pants, hang them up. Then grab the next size up from your rotation station. Kids can even learn to scavenge for the clothes they need themselves. You’ll need to periodically tidy up the rotation station area, but it could be the least fussy of the clothing organizing options.
HOW TO ORGANIZE KIDS' CLOTHES
Now that we’ve talked about when to work on the organizing, let’s decide on a system that works for your particular family. Depending on the ages of your children, your available storage space, and your personal preferences, choose a system that looks appealing to you. If you find out it’s not working, do a quick switch-a-roo to another system!
HAND ME DOWN SYSTEMS TO ORGANIZE KIDS CLOTHES
If you have kids less than two years apart in age, rotating and organizing clothes usually look more like moving things from closet to closet instead of from closet to storage. In some ways it’s nice (takes up less storage space!). In other ways, it's a nightmare (whose shirt is this now!?). Never fear — here are some innovative organizing ideas you're gonna love!
THE DOT SYSTEM
Get ready to have your non-hand me down socks blown off by this simple and effective super-secret parenting hack! Not only is the dot system an easy way to organize hand me downs, but it also simplifies putting away laundry.
For The Dot System, all you need is a black permanent marker and a dot designation for each child. The oldest child of each gender gets one dot. The next child of each gender gets two dots, and so on.
As soon as you get a new piece of clothing, mark the tag (or the thickest part of a seam so it isn’t seen) with the dot designation for that child. When they outgrow the clothing, move it to a younger sibling by adding a second dot. Then move it to a new drawer or closet.
The Dot System is a game-changer because it helps with laundry sorting. (A quick glance tells you who the clothing belongs to.) PLUS, it helps kids quickly recognize which blue uniform shirt belongs to them!
THE “TOO SMALL/JUST RIGHT” BIN SYSTEM
Move over, Goldilocks! This bin system idea is easy to implement and helps keep drawers streamlined so you can organize kids clothes with ease.
For this system, locate space in each child’s room for two bins. Under-the-bed bins work well, as well as simple baskets that fit on a closet shelf. Mark one bin with the words “Too Small” and the other “Just Right.”
The thing is, kids aren’t very good at coordinating their growth with the changing of the seasons (rude). This can mean drawers and closets end up overflowing with things they might not even wear.
The Too Small/Just Right bin system makes it easy to take an ill-fitting piece of clothing and throw it into the “Too Small” bin. Then, when it's time for your scheduled clothing rotations, simply transfer the hand-me-downs from one sibling’s closet to the next. For example, daughter #2’s “Too Small” clothes will move to daughter #3’s “Just Right” bin. Then when daughter #3 needs a new pair of uniform pants, look in the “Just Right” bin in her closet. Easy peasy!
WHAT IF KIDS ARE MORE THAN TWO YEARS APART?
Storage and rotation get a bit trickier when there are a few years between siblings. However, if you have storage space, label things well, and periodically rotate, you can keep those cutie patootie rompers for a younger (or future!) sibling.
LONG-TERM STORAGE BIN SYSTEM
The keys to mastering long-term hand me down storage involve careful culling and labeling. Unless you have unlimited space, you'll need to decide ahead of time how much space you're willing to dedicate to kids’ clothing organization.
A good rule of thumb is to keep one small bin for each age. Decide which things you are keeping (more on that coming up). Then limit yourself to keeping only one full bin of that size. I know that can squeeze your mama heart, but think about how those not-quite-as-favorite baby clothes can bless someone else in need.
Next, meticulously label each bin by the size of the clothing it contains. Make sure to put ONLY that size of clothing in each bin during your periodic clothing rotations. It may be tempting to throw things into the easiest-to-access bin, but resist!
THE NITTY GRITTY STEPS FOR ORGANIZING KIDS' CLOTHES
We’ve talked about what clothes are worth saving, how often to rotate, and some helpful systems to have in place for organizing hand me downs. Now let's get to the nitty-gritty details of how to organize kids’ clothing! When you’re facing a pile of potential hand me downs, follow each step and you’ll be done in no time:
- Cull. Have three containers handy: one for clothes you are keeping, one for clothes to donate, and a garbage bag for clothes that have completed honorable service. Set a timer and go through the pile quickly.
- Get rid of any clothes your child didn’t wear. This is surprisingly hard, but don’t keep clothes you won’t put on your next child. Sometimes we feel guilty because they were expensive or maybe they were given to you by someone special. If you know you won’t use something again, give it to someone else who will love and appreciate it.
- Throw away clothing that is stained, ripped, or too worn out.
- Donate clothing that will probably go out of style. It's easy to recognize more “classic” styles of clothing and trendy clothes. Especially if there is a large age gap between your kiddos, give away clothes that may not be in style in a few years.
- Sort and scale down. Once you’ve gotten rid of the clothes you aren’t keeping, sort the keepers into like piles and evaluate. Twenty pairs of shorts for one 3-year-old? Probably excessive… maybe cut it down by half. Take your storage space into consideration and donate the extras in any category. (Use this rationale in your shoe closet at your own risk. 😉 )
- Store. Using one of the systems we talked about earlier, put the newly scaled-down, great quality hand me downs into the bin, container, or rotation station of your choice.
- Treat yourself. Great job!! You just saved money and crossed a BIG to-do off of your list. Take some time for yourself or get a special treat that says “I survived another kids’ clothing rotation.”
Pro Tip: If you have a child who is sensitive to change or who doesn’t want to get rid of clothes, tackle this chore when they aren’t around.
GET MORE TIME WITH PRODUCTIVITY BOOT CAMP
Believe me, I know it can be stressful to add another “to-do” to your list. Finding time in your busy day can be hard, but we can help you organize your time better so that you can get things done!
The fun-to-watch and easy-to-implement Productivity Bootcamp will help free up time in your schedule to get essential tasks done like organizing your kids’ clothing. Use the code FCFBLOG for 10% off because we love your face!
TIPS THAT MAKE ORGANIZING KIDS' CLOTHING MORE FUN (AND LESS STRESSFUL)
Take Mary Poppins’ advice and add a spoonful of sugar to this tedious task. Here are some ways to make it more fun and less stressful to organize kids clothes!
- Involve older kids – This is a great chore for big kids to take on and a fantastic life skill to encourage. Have them go through their own drawers and closets and decide which clothes to get rid of and which clothes are potential hand me downs. Mom can have the last word, but older siblings can do the bulk of clothing sorting in their own rooms.
- Multitask – This is the perfect activity to pair with a good movie or show for a good laugh (or cry!) while you do your work. Need some multi-tasking inspiration? Check out this genius ways for moms to multi-task like a BOSS!
- Make it a date night – Order in some yummy takeout, put on a movie, and enlist the help of your hubby to go through hand me downs.
Phew! That was a LOT of information, but I think you’ll find that with a good system and plan in place, organizing kids’ clothes is well worth it! Do you have an innovative way of storing hand me downs? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below!
Are you ready for even more organization hacks to make your life easier? Check out these posts!