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There’s nothing like opening your kid’s closet and knowing it is filled with clothes that fit. The trick? Starting with some decluttering and organization. Set the kids—and yourself—up for success by getting your kid’s closet clutter under control.
Young children are just learning what it means to be responsible, and they don’t yet know how to take care of their belongings. Many older children are at a stage where they ought to know better but still struggle to keep organized. Organizing a kid’s closet can be particularly challenging because children grow and evolve at a fast rate, and they need a system that can keep up with all the changes.
Here are the best ways to organize your kid’s closet.
Plan storage for developing needs
The goal is to keep your child’s room clutter-free . When your child is an infant, you will probably want a space where diaper supplies can be accessible and kept out of sight. As your child grows, this space can then be used for toys, and later for books and elementary school supplies. A few more years down the road, this same space may be perfect for your teenager’s sports equipment or technology devices.
Infant and toddler closets can easily become the stash and store location hidden behind a door when guests come to visit. With thoughtful planning before baby arrives, your closet can be just the place to hold everything your little one needs with room to accommodate a future teenager.
Use adjustable hanging rods
If you’re hanging baby clothes, it often makes sense to have three rows of hanging rods stacked vertically. Tiny baby clothes don’t require much vertical length, but you frequently do need to keep many outfits on hand, as your child will get them messy and grow out of them so quickly.
As they grow, you can remove the middle rod and keep a two-row system. For young children, you may want to keep daily-use clothes they can access themselves on the low hanging rod and reserve the higher rod for less-frequently used clothing or any items best kept out of reach.
Even once your children become teenagers, they can still use the two-row hanging rod system for shorter clothes items like shirts and shorts.
Incorporate closed drawers
One key to keeping a room tidy is making sure there is plenty of storage space for storing items away and out of sight. Ideally, there should be enough closed drawers that each has a designated purpose that encourages organization.
For example, socks and underwear can be kept in one drawer separated from another drawer with small toys. Some closets can accommodate a dresser, other may need a system that includes drawers. However you design your closets, showing your children early on that everything has its place helps them to develop organizational skills that are useful throughout life.
Many kid’s closets feature bright colors that inspire and help with grouping and organization. You can fill open shelves with plastic baskets in a rainbow of colors. Even young toddlers can start to grasp the difference between putting an object in the red basket versus putting an object in the blue. Or, for early readers, try adding decorative labels that you and child create together to assist with word recognition or planning outfits for the week.
Reconsider your organization plan every year
Back to school is the perfect time to revamp the closet plan while you weed out the old and outgrown in preparation for the new year’s changes and challenges. Make sure the children themselves are involved in this process, at whatever level of responsibility makes the most sense for their current age and development. This helps makes it more likely they will stick with the organization plan. Your child’s age and stage plays a big part.
Follow age-specific closet organizing tips
For babies and toddlers
Baskets are the best. In the early months, group clothes into sizes. When baby outgrows a 6 month outfit, it will be easy to grab the next size up. This is also a great way to keep track at a glance of what baby needs when the 2T basket is full, but you only have a few 18 months outfits. Once your little one’s growth has slowed, you can repurpose the baskets by grouping clothes by season and item.
As little feet get bigger and toys turn into learning games, those baby baskets turn into shoe and game storage. Preschool is filled with proud artistic and academic achievements too, so be sure to save a little room for storing those treasures. Easily keep them safe with a large artist portfolio. They hold a few years’ worth of work and slide easily behind the dresser or hang in the back of the closet.
Stuffed animals are another closet buster at this stage. Use a fun jungle theme to hang them all around the closet when they aren’t being played with or take an afternoon, some paint rope and two by fours to make a closet zoo. Having fun with organization at this stage makes staying organized easy and expected as they grow up.
For elementary-age kids
School years bring a new need for storage: instruments, sports equipment, costumes, and shoes for every activity. If you invested in quality baskets or containers for their baby stage, now is a good time to purge what they’ve outgrown and re-label those baskets by activity or day of the week.
Make it easy for the kids to grab what they need every day of the week by adding hooks and a station to lay out what they need before they go to bed. The key to easy bedtimes and happy mornings for Mom and Dad lies in knowing where to look and helping the kids be accountable for their things.
For teens and tweens
Kids grow up fast, and now is the time to plan for things like jewelry and tie storage. Formal events, dances, concerts, and performances bring the need for more hanging space in the closet. At this stage, a structural closet reorganization for your growing teen is ideal. With their input you can create a space to hang jewelry and formal dresses or suits and uniforms and full size sports equipment.
Consider the addition of hooks and drawers and a full length mirror. At this age, closet shoe storage can be a challenge. Use under the bed storage for off season shoes and boots and only have what they’ll need for the season in the closet. Make use of boxes and baskets for high storage of items they don’t use regularly but can reach now when they need them.
A version of this story was published September 1, 2021. It has been updated.