With March approaching and temperatures on the upward slide, it’s almost time to do a Spring Spruce-Up in the closets. (Just don’t do it next week…brr!) We’ve been devouring every last second of the Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and have applied her infinite wisdom to one place that needs some joy: Our kids’ closets! We’ve found an easy way to organize and adapt that will make their closet a place that can grow with them. Read on to find out how.
FREE ticket giveaway! Shadow Play at the Performing Arts Center
We have a family four-pack of tickets to this delightful performance taking place on Sunday, March 10 at 3pm. Have you ever wondered what happens to your shadow while you sleep? Well, it turns out that some shadows are more mischievous than others. Soon after moving to his new home, Flash discovers that his shadow has moving plans of his own! Follow the playful adventures of Flash and his quest to reunite with his shadow in this multimedia performance for the youngest of audiences (ages 2–5), and the young at heart. For a chance to win free tickets, follow us on Instagram, then fill out this form by March 1. Good luck!
Marie Kondo For Kids: How to KonMari your child’s closet.
We are all familiar with the Kondo philosophy of only holding on to items that “spark joy” when held in our hands. Kids’ clothes are a bit of a different story. Sure, we’d love for them to have a fabulous curated wardrobe, but we also need enough underwear to get through night training and shirts to paint in. Plus, they automatically get a new wardrobe every year just by getting bigger. So this “joy” thing doesn’t really help too much when it comes to 6 pairs of size 2T jeans that will be muddy by noon and too small by September. Keep!
Organizing your child’s closet is less about cleaning out and more about creating room for what you have that’s easy to alter as you retire clothes they’ve outgrown and bring in new items. You’ll also need a setup where shorts can be out of sight in January and fleece zip-ups can disappear in July. Ideally, the system would be idiot-proof so even a groggy husband can find everything he needs to get Junior dressed in the morning. Does this magic wardrobe exist?
It does! And it’s cheap and easy to create. We are going to veer a bit away from the Kondo philosophy and suggest you buy the right tools for success, but if you want to create what you’re about to see using scrap wood and mismatched shoe boxes, arigato, more power to you.
To hang or not to hang?
Kondo loves a sharp, veritcally-folded drawer of clothes, and I couldn’t agree more. Though some parents swear by hanging everything and using dividers to differentiate categories, the time it takes to put teeny-tiny shirts and pants on hangers is more than I can bear. I’ve banished the rods almost completely, regulating them to only hold dresses and winter coats.
But I also hate pulling out drawers one after another. I want to open one door and see all their clothes at once. How can we do this? Install tons of adjustable shelving in the closet with bins to hold clothes!
MUST-HAVE #1: Adjustable shelves
You can go the Container Store Elfa route, or for one-third of the price head to a hardware store like Home Depot. Adjustable shelves are super easy: You start with the two vertical tracks on the back closet wall, then hang the brackets and shelves wherever you want them.
It’s the perfect way to accommodate a changing wardrobe. We love it when we can adjust the height of the bottom shelf to clear large toys stored on the closet floor. I recommend melamine shelves (shown above) over wire ones. They tend to be deeper, are very sturdy, and clothes don’t fall through them as easily (no baby socks all over the place!)
Melamine vs wire shelves
If you have a dark closet or need your shelves to be close together, you may like wire shelves because they don’t block the light. In my daughter’s room, I combined deep melamine shelves with shallow wire shelves to maximize clothing storage while being able to see into all the bins. The melamine shelves can accommodate up to two rows of bins, and the wire ones sit neatly above them without blocking the view.
Wire shelves offer more ways to accessorize. You can get a wire shelf with a rod attached, as in the photo above. This is great if you want to be able to adjust the position of the rod as your child grows taller (those dresses will get longer and need more clearance off the floor!).
With young kids, we place the clothing bins up high so they can’t reach them and make a mess (ever walked in on your child taking every piece of clothing out of their nursery drawers?) But with older kids, you could create a shelf range lower at their eye level so they can get themselves dressed in the morning. Then the top space could be used for a rod of fancier clothes and out of season storage.
Accessorize, but don’t go crazy
You can use accessories such as shelf dividers or under-the-shelf storage bins to create even more space. There are also pull-out drawers, baskets, rods, and specialty hooks, but we find the simple system of shelves and bins works to keep everything where you can easily find it. If you’re leaning toward splurging on Elfa because you love all the fun accessories, there are Home Depot systems that are compatible, so look closely and you might be able to mix and match!
Fold like a pro
Instead of hanging clothes, I sort them into categories and fold them vertically into storage bins. Kondo talks a lot about how much better a method vertical folding is than a traditional fold-and-stack, and for kids clothes it really works. Since their items are so small, they are stiffer when folded and sit well vertically. Once you get an entire tub folded, you’ll be able to see every T-shirt they own with one quick glance. It’s so easy to find what you’re looking for right away.
MUST-HAVE #2: Storage bins
I’ve tried lots of types, and my favorite are SKUBB bins by IKEA. They are lightweight, come in different sizes, and made of fabric so they can bend to squeeze noiselessly into tight spaces. The height is perfect for folded kid clothes. They are available in white or black (these green ones have been discontinued), zip open to store flat, and right now you can get 6 for $5.99.
If you don’t want to get this exact model, I find soft fabric bins are much better on the wooden or wire shelving than plastic or other hard materials.
Having three sizes to customize is what makes these work for me. I use the small ones for items like socks, hats, and bibs, and the two larger sizes are great for the categories you have more of (like pants) or less of (like overalls). You can fit everything together in your grouping without overpacking a small bin or having empty space in a large bin.
Since they are easy to sort and re-sort, they can accommodate a child’s changing wardrobe. My oldest is now 4 and she’s had a neat closet for years because of this system. When she was young I found she needed tons of closet space for onesies, but as she grew she needed more room for pants and shirts. Just swap out the bins, re-label, and you’re ready to go.
The boxes are small and light. Even the largest one is a manageable size to take down from the closet with one hand to look through while you’re getting them dressed. When my youngest was an infant, I’d lay him in the crib, place the shirts bin and pants bin next to him to wade through for an outfit, then put both bins back. Since everything is folded vertically I can see all the pants at once, and there are no piles to topple. Some parents like to store matching outfits together so they are easier to find. Just fold the pants next to the shirts and label the whole bin “long-sleeve sets” or “shorts sets”, etc.
Some categories where selection is less important, like zip-up onesies for sleep, make more sense arranged in a tall pile so you can easily grab the one on top at bedtime. To store those I use these larger SKUBB boxes turned on their sides, with shelf dividers to help keep everything orderly.
If space is an issue, you can store away clothes you don’t need to choose from everyday into bins that are larger and can stack. These SKUBB shoe boxes velcro shut and are the perfect place to shove shorts and tank tops for long-term storage in the colder months. Once Spring hits I’ll move the summer clothes into bins at the front of the closet and put sweaters and fleece in the shoe boxes to be stored out of the way.
MUST HAVE #3: Label Maker
Everyone, meet my personal assistant:
This is the pièce de resistance to make everything super organized. Because what’s the point of sorting into categories if no one can tell what those categories are? When folded, short-sleeve onesies look an awful lot like long-sleeve onesies. The time you spend labelling will pay off ten-fold in putting away laundry. You might even be able to have your—gasp!—spouse help out.
The labels work especially well on the SKUBB containers because they peel off easily and leave no mark. You can also label the edge of the melamine shelves with no residue. This is handy if you routinely take down a few bins at a time, it’s easy to see where they were sitting in the closet.
Labelling is what allows you to redo everything at a moment’s notice if they suddenly grow out of footed onesies and into two-piece pajama sets. Since the bins all look the same, especially when placed on a higher shelf, the labels make getting dressed in the morning a breeze.
Below are the results on my 2-year-old son’s and my 4-year old daughter’s closets (he has green bins and she has white ones). These solutions cost less than $100 per closet and are easily the most organized spaces in the house.
Now if only my clothes folded up that small and were as easy to label… (“Dressy tank tops”? “Casual skirts”? Too many categories!)
What do you think? If you don’t have a closet to apply this system to, these SKUBB bins work great in drawers too. A zen clothing area makes the rest of the room seem almost neat. Well, until you step on a LEGO for the 100th time…
I hope this has motivated you to create a joyful closet. Do you have your own organizing tips? Share your ideas with us!
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See you next time!