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How to organize your kid's closet at every age—from preschoolers to teenagers

Control the clutter, once and for all, mama.

How to organize your kid's closet at every age—from preschoolers to teenagers

There's nothing like heading into the back-to-school season knowing each child''s closet is filled with clothes that fit and a plan to keep up the first day of school organization all year long. Set the kids, and yourself, up for success by getting the 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 room 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.

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.

1. 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.

2. Incorporate closed drawers

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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.

3. Add color

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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.

4. 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.

Here are a few age-specific closet tips:

For baby + toddlers

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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.

For preschoolers

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-aged 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 tweens + teens

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.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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