Once August is here, thoughts of back to school and fall automatically set in. We sure don’t want to give up our summer just yet, but I always recommend getting a jump start on organizing your child’s closet for a few reasons. One reason is that this is the time of year that stores start getting their fall merchandise. To get the best selection of sizes, this is the best time to go shopping. A lot of people are also still enjoying their summer holidays, so stores won’t be quite as crazy as they will be a few weeks from now.
But before you panic and run out and buy piles of clothes it really pays to make the time to follow these steps. Because you want to be a smart shopper. An organized shopper. A shopper on a mission! So let’s get started!
Step One – Dig Out the Warm Stuff
You know, the fleece hoodies, sweaters and corduroy pants from last year. The stuff you really don’t want to look at when the thermometer reads HOT outside, but it’s worth your trouble.
This time of year, your child’s closet is likely full of summer clothes. Hopefully you will still have lots of time to use them, so we will leave those in there for now. (Maybe you are lucky enough to have big enough closets to keep all seasons in there at once. My house is old. I don’t.) Don’t worry about the summer stuff yet, I’ll let you know what to do with those later. When the thermometer reads NOT AS HOT.
Instead, we will start with last year’s fall and winter clothes and shoes. We are going to make three piles. Look through the items piece by piece and right away sort out the items that were just worn too rough. You can keep a couple of sets that can be used for painting or dirty tasks. If they are in one piece and loved just a bit too much, you can donate them to a local shelter or church sale. Discard the rest (even charity has no use for clothes with broken zippers, rips or missing buttons). This makes pile one.
Now you should be left with items that are still in good shape. We are going to scrutinize these a bit. Check them against your child to see if they would still fit. I don’t make my son try everything on, he would never stand for it. Usually holding a shirt or pair of pants up against him will tell me pretty reliably whether it’s going to be too small. The exception to this is shoes which you should always try on. If your child has less than a thumbs width of room in front of their toes, they won’t last very long. This is hard to tell unless your child actually tries the shoe on.
Anything that will clearly be too small for the coming fall and winter season should go in a new pile (this is pile two). Also add to this pile any items that might fit, but that you know will never be used (maybe something your child finds too uncomfortable, or special occasion items you know you won’t need). No point in having items take up valuable room in your child’s closet if they will never get used. (Feel free to use this tip on your own closet as well). Fold this pile up and put it in a plastic tote. We will come back to this pile in a later step.
If you find yourself left with some items that still fit (although maybe just), go ahead and save them for now. These will be great for the early part of the season, while the brand new clothes might still be a bit big. They might not last the whole season, but they will get you started which will limit the amount of new stuff you’ll need to get. This makes pile number three.
Now take stock of this third pile. See how many jeans, pants, T-shirts, sweaters, and outerwear you are left with. Don’t forget some sweat suits or athletic wear which they might need for sports and activities. Also keep in mind any special occasions coming up this season that will call for some fancier pieces (a wedding, recitals or concerts?) Where are you low and where are you overflowing?
Make notes of what you need to stock up on. Or trust that you will remember what you need once you are in the store. I would take notes, but that's just me. Nine years later, mommy brain seems to be here to stay.
If you have more than one child it helps to have separate piles for each child. This way you can pass on too small clothes from an older child to a younger child’s keep-pile and quickly see where there might be items missing.
There. That was step one. That’s the hardest one so give yourself a pat on the back! Well done! Next week we will talk about step two and three (they are much more fun, I promise!) in Getting Your Child’s Closet Organized – Part 2, so check back for that!