It seems like children’s clothes get out of control so quickly! It is always the worst when we are in between seasons, when it’s not consistently hot or cold.
Over the years, I’ve tried so hard to keep our children’s clothes in check. Here are the methods that keep me sane. Hopefully you can use these ideas in your own home and finally get a grip on your children’s clothes.
Designate a place for your child’s dirty clothes
Do your kids have a spot where their dirty clothes should go each time they take them off? Even more importantly: Do they know where that spot is?
My girls put their clothes in a hamper that is strategically placed right beside my 3-year-old’s bed. She can’t miss it.
Before I placed the hamper by her bed, there were dirty clothes all over her floor, all of the time. It is her job to take her dirty clothes from the bathroom floor to her dirty hamper every night.
It took many run-throughs to teach her this task, but she gets it now and does a great job.
Task: Designate a specific place for your children to put their dirty clothes. It should be the same spot every day and shouldn’t move (hamper in the bathroom, basket in their closet, sort them in the laundry room, etc). Do a run-through where you instruct your child where to put their dirty clothes and then watch them do the job to make sure it meets your satisfaction. Make your expectations clear.
Sort and purge their clothes…and then purge some more
I have found that when we have too many clothes (we have been blessed with so many hand-me-downs!), that drawers are overstuffed and there isn’t room to hang anything else in the closets. I then go through clothes and purge heavily. It makes me crazy for clothes to hang out of every drawer in the dresser.
I also don’t like for my son to have an excuse not to put his clean clothes away: “Mama, I couldn’t possibly put my clothes away. I can’t put anything else in the drawers.”
That doesn’t fly with this Mama.
Task: Go through each article of clothing and make a quick decision without spending a ton of time on each piece. Get rid of it if: it’s stained, it’s too small/too large, you don’t like it, they won’t wear it, it’s too high maintenance (ex: has to be hand-washed). Before you purge have a plan in place for what you’ll do with the items you’re giving away. Take them to Goodwill, donate to a friend, or throw them away if they’re really awful. But whatever you do, don’t leave them lying around in bags for weeks on end. Go ahead and get them out of your house.
If you plan to keep clothes for future babies, set up a method
We do save our clothes for any future children. We already have 4, but, well…you never know. I’ve written a detailed post on how to organize your children’s clothes for future use. Feel free to browse through that to get some ideas of what would work for your own family. But like anything else, use what you can and forget the rest.
If you get a system in place that works for you (works for you is key there), you can rotate them out like clockwork. It’s so freeing. Really.
Task: Read through my post on storing children’s clothes. Determine what method you’ll use (mine or someone else’s) and then buy the items you’ll need to successfully use that method. Then get to work sorting and putting away.
Teach your children age-appropriate laundry skills
The goal to making your laundry life easier is your children to be self-sufficient in the laundry room. No, I don’t mean forcing them to wash their own clothes at 5 years old or anything drastic like that. But at 5 years old, there are definite ways they can help in the laundry room.
Encourage laundry skills early so they’ll just see it as part of taking care of themselves, like brushing their teeth or making their bed.
Here are a few (loose) guidelines if you need some direction. Of course every child is different, so it’s up to you to determine how much they can really help and what their responsibilities should be.
18 months – 3 years: With lots of direction they can: put their own dirty clothes in the hamper (“Please pick up this sock. Put it in the hamper.”), pick up stray clothes around the house, pick up those clothes that fall out of the basket when you’re walking to/from the laundry room
3 to 6 years: All of the previous responsibilities, plus: empty trash can in the laundry room, empty the lint filter, daily pick up of strewn laundry around the house, simple folding (washcloths, underwear), match and fold socks, put some clothes away, bring laundry basket to mom.
7 to 9 years: All of the previous responsibilities, plus: put the sorted clothes in the washing machine, transfer wet clothes from washer to dryer, sort clothes into darks/whites, empty clothes from dryer into laundry basket, put all of their own clothes away.
10+ years: All of the previous responsibilities, plus: Load machine with correctly sorted clothes, add detergent, and turn machine to correct cycle. This is after you’ve instructed and supervised them multiple times and you feel confident in their ability.
13+ years: Some 13-year-olds are fully capable of being solely responsible for washing their own clothes. It’s definitely a great goal to strive for complete responsibility by 15 or 16. They need to leave your house knowing how to get their own clothes clean.
So how do you keep your kids’ clothes under control? Share your best tips.
Interested in more posts related to Kids’ Rooms? See what the other Room to Room bloggers have to say:
Dana is writing on when you’re worried your kids will grow up to be on Hoarders. Oh my.
Taylor is writing on the best methods to wash stuffed animals.
Lastly, Jami is sharing 5 Tips to transition a kid’s room to a teen’s room.
We do basically the same thing you do. Only difference here is that if anybody’s clothes actually made it into the hamper instead of 6 inches away in the floor, I’d have a heart attack. But every day at chore time, picking up laundry is part of picking up the bedrooms, so it works out. Even my 20 month old can find laundry to put in the hamper. In fact, he’s currently better at it than the three year old. 😉
My 19 month is the same. He is excellent at helping around the house and he is better at it than his father. 🙂
My 13 month old loves helping me too! She’ll pull her clean clothes from her clean clothes bin and hand them to me to fold! She sits and watches tentatively while I fold!
Love this article and it was exactly what I was looking for! I love the age appropriate chores also. My daughter is three and she loves helping me put things in the dryer. Although I can see why you chose older, because I do have to pass things to her from the washer. She also loves to try to ‘told’ things. One thing she can fold is washcloths. I think I will start calling for her while doing laundry and make a big deal about it being her very own little chore. Thank you for the ideas!
Beth, I’m so glad it was helpful for you! I need to update it since my kiddos are much older now. 🙂