“What on earth happened in here?!?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why are all your clothes on the floor, on the bed, on the chair….are there any clothes in your drawers or in your closet?”
“They won’t fit!”
Have you every had this conversation? I know I have! In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve walked into a bedroom and had a variation of this conversation with the child who claims that particular bedroom! For that matter, I’ve had this conversation with myself when my own clothes have exploded out of my closet.
So, what’s a girl to do? Let’s face it, when you walk into a room and see clothes flung haphazardly all over, it gets frustrating! It doesn’t even matter if the clothes belong to your children or if they’re yours, there’s something very discouraging and annoying when clothes pile up everywhere.
But why are the clothes out in the first place? Is it simply because no one took the time to put the clothes away? Or are the clothes all over the place because no one knows where the clothes belong?
You see, if you don’t know where something goes, it’s much harder to put it away! But what do you do if you don’t know where ‘away’ is? If you don’t know where to put your clothes, where do you even start? How do you begin to organize your clothes?
Now, your closet is going to look different than mine. Just like my kid’s closet looks different from my closet. Every closet is going to look just a little bit different. There are different sizes of closets and different amounts of space for hanging items. There are shelves and there are no shelves. There are big dressers and little dressers. However, there are steps you can take to start working through how to organize your clothes and how to organize your children’s clothes.
Does it Fit?
The very first thing you need to do is figure out what fits and what doesn’t. In this first step, you want to get all the clothes that don’t fit out of the room. It’s much easier to create a space for all your clothes once you get rid of all the ones your child has outgrown!
But what about all those clothes that don’t fit? What do you do with them? Where do they go? Here are a few suggestions:
- If the clothes are trashed beyond hope, lovingly release them to the garbage!
- For children’s clothes: If you have a younger child who will grow into the clothes your older child has outgrown, wash the clothes and put them in a specific spot to wait until the clothes fit the younger child. (Or if they fit now, the clothes could immediately go to your younger child and skip the ‘holding zone.’)
- For children’s clothes: If you have friends with younger children who would appreciate some hand-me-downs, put together a care package for them.
- For adult clothes: If you have a friend who’s the same size as the clothes you’re lovingly releasing and who would appreciate some hand-me-downs, put together a care package for her.
- Find a good consignment shop nearby and consign the clothes. You’ll have to check with each individual store for their consigning guidelines, but the clothes should be clean and neatly folded or on hangers as a start.
Here’s one more idea for you: If you’re having some struggles releasing your maternity clothes, yet you know that you’re done carrying your own babies, think of what a blessing your maternity clothes could be to a young momma who just found out she’s expecting her first (or her surprise!).
Creating the Big Picture
Now that you’ve removed all the clothes that don’t fit, it’s time to find a home for all the clothes that do fit! Before you start pulling more clothes out of drawers and closets, stop for a moment and step back.
I know, I know, it seems crazy to talk about organizing your clothes and then stopping, right? But do you have a plan for where your clothes will go? You see, if there’s no plan, you don’t know where you want to put things. If there’s no big picture of where things will go, no one has a clue where to put anything and you end up with a sock stash in 4 different drawers!
The exact plan you come up with will be unique to you (or your child if you’re working on your child’s clothes). Remember, the best organizational system for you is one that you help create and one that you can keep going. This also holds true for your child. If you’re helping your son or daughter create a plan for their clothes, make sure they’re in on this process! You see, the person who creates the system has a lot of ownership in that system and a greater desire to keep it going!
Each room is going to be different. Some rooms have huge closets. Some rooms have tiny closets. Other rooms have no closet. Some rooms have dressers with many, tiny drawers. Some rooms have dressers with only a few big drawers. Other rooms may not have a dresser at all. Now, I’m not going to tell you exactly where everything should go, but I do want to give you some ideas to get your creative juices flowing. So, as you start to create your big picture for where all the clothes go, here are some of my favorite starting points:
- Socks and underwear tend to work best in drawers. Or, if you’re lacking in drawer space, you can use a bin on a shelf to create a drawer.
- Dresses, skirts, nicer shirts, button-down shirts, polos, and dress slacks can all hang in the closet.
- T-shirts and jeans work very well folded and placed in a drawer or on a shelf.
- Scarves work beautifully on a hanger created just for scarves or in a bin. (Let’s face it, scarves are tough to fold!)
- Belts can be coiled up and placed in a drawer, in a bin on a shelf, or even hanging from a hanger specifically designed for belts.
- Swimsuits are another tough to fold item! These work well in a small bin within a drawer or in a bin on a shelf.
- Tights or nylons work well in a small bin within a drawer or in a bin on a shelf (again, a tough-to-fold item!).
Once you have your big picture for where these “specialized” items will go, take a look around and see what space you have left. Do you have lots more hanging space in the closet? Do you have lots more shelf space? Do you have more drawer space? What will you put in each of these spaces?
Now keep in mind, you’re just thinking through the big picture here. You’re not moving anything just yet. But remember, when you do start moving things around sometimes this process involves a bit of trial and error. Sometimes those sweaters don’t fold up as tiny as you thought and you need to try a new spot. You might find extra space in the drawer for something else. The concept here is to create a big picture in your mind, but still be flexible to adjust it as you start physically moving the items.
Thinking Outside the Box
Let’s face it: Sometimes things don’t always fit the way we want them to. And sometimes the struggle is putting things where you can reach them – particularly in a child’s closet! When things don’t fit perfectly, it’s time to think outside the box – or the drawer!
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Sweatshirts can be hung in the closet (either on hangers or on command hooks) or put on a higher shelf in the closet. This helps save space if you have limited drawer space.
- Try putting a basket on the floor of your child’s closet to hold all of their shoes. This way all the shoes are in one place when you’re trying to find a pair!
- Consider a hanging shoe rack. There are shoe racks that will hang from the bar in the closet and ones that will hang on the back of a door, depending on the space you have to work with.
- Try using cloth or plastic shoe boxes. These have the advantage of being stackable, keeping the dust off your shoes, and most will have clear plastic so you can see what shoes are inside without having to open each one to find your favorite pair!
- Use a hanging organizer to hold extra and bulkier clothing items. You gain some extra folded clothes storage and, depending on the type you get, you may not have to give up any of your hanging space.
- Consider a second clothing bar that hangs from the standard clothing bar. This can almost double your hanging space!
- If you have a large closet, consider putting a cubed-off piece of furniture in it to create more shelving space for folded items.
Making It A Reality
Now that you’ve read all these ideas, how are you going to make it work? First of all, resist the urge to run out and buy every organizing tool you want right this second! I know, it’s tempting! But again, you have to have a plan or you’ll end up with the wrong items – items you won’t actually use or items that won’t fit in your space.
So how do you do it? How do you take this grand idea and make it a reality? By following these 6 simple steps:
Step One :: Start Small
Pick one spot to focus on and organize at a time. For example, you might choose your socks and underwear drawer to start. Empty out the drawer so you can see everything that’s inside. Then, fold the items so they fit the space you have available as you place them back in one by one.
Now, here’s the big key: Remember that big picture you created of where you wanted to put your clothes? As you put things back into this drawer you just emptied, make sure the items going back in are the items you want to live in that drawer from now on. For example, let’s say you clean socks, underwear, belts and scarves out of a drawer. Everything except the scarves will live in that drawer moving forward. So, place the scarves into a holding zone until you have the scarf home ready for them. Then, place everything else back in the drawer.
Step Two :: Create a Holding Zone
But that brings us to the question: What is a holding zone and what does it hold? The answer: The holding zone is a spot where items that have been removed from places (like drawers) can sit until their new home is ready for them. So, from the example just above, the scarves would go in the holding zone.
My favorite thing to use for a holding zone is a laundry basket. It’s simple to use, easy to find, and keeps your clothes contained and clean until you’re ready to place them in their new home.
Step Three: One Small Section at a Time
Continue working through one small section at a time. One drawer at a time. One shelf at a time. You could even do one small section of your hanging clothes at a time.
And, yes, this will take time! Yes, this can get discouraging. No, this might not all happen in one day! However, by taking on one drawer or one small section at a time, when you hit those moments of discouragement or overwhelm, you can pause, take a deep breath, and look back to see what you’ve accomplished. Go ahead, open that drawer! Be excited over the fact that everything inside is organized and in it’s correct place! If you folded everything as you put it back in, relish the neat look of it! Allow yourself to gather motivation and momentum as you turn and take on that next small piece.
Step Four :: Don’t Give Up!
By taking on one piece at a time, before you know it, all of your clothing space will be organized! The biggest key here is: Don’t give up! Don’t start this project and refuse to finish! Just keep going one small space at a time!
Step Five :: Put the Holding Zone Away
Once you’ve made it through your entire space once small section at a time, there’s one important zone you don’t want to forget about: Your holding zone! But there’s good news! At this point, you know where everything goes! You’ve been creating space for all those items in the holding zone even as you’ve worked through organizing your clothes in your space. Now the only thing to do is put the items in the holding zone away one at a time.
Step Six :: Organizational Tools
The final step in this process is to take a look at your drawers, your closet, and your shelves. Are there any organizational tools you need to get? Do you need another clothing bar? Do you need a hanging shoe rack or a basket for your shoes? Do you need dividers or small bins for your drawers?
Before you run out to the store, take a look at your set up and see what tools you need. Then, be sure to measure your shelves and drawers – including how tall they are! – before you go purchase anything. There’s nothing more frustrating that finding the perfect, cute bin for your tank tops only to get it home and realize the bin is 1 inch taller than the shelf it needs to sit on!
Closing the Closet
And there you have it, my Friend! How to contain the clothing chaos and bring organization to your clothes with a big picture and 6 easy steps!
Now remember, the best organizational system for you is one that you create and one that you can keep going! This incredible organization job you just did will only last and only be helpful if you keep up with it!
But do you want to know a secret? I know you can keep it up! Because you helped create this system and that makes it the best organizational system for you!
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Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.