I know some of you will be mad at me for saying this, but I love the cooler temperatures we are getting here this week! I’d rather be cold than hot any day, and even our short burst of 100+ degree weather was a little much for me. I also know that with the cooling temperatures I get to purge, refresh and reorganize our closets! I know that doesn’t sound fun to some of you, but I think it’s great! I enjoy the process of laying out a closet and how to use the space, but I REALLY love the final product when everything looks orderly and refreshed for the season ahead!
So, I’ve been spending a lot of time in closets lately! I spent a good part of today helping a client reorganize closets and kid’s clothes. My client sorted and purged what no longer fit or wouldn’t be used again until warm weather returns, and I got to make it all look neat and orderly – my favorite part! I did the same process with my kids’ clothes last week, and helped another gal get her son’s closet all set up after their recent move. That’s a lot of time in closets, and a good organization fix for me!
Side note, for those of you that tried to use the online form in my last post and found out that it didn’t work – sorry! I’m trying out a lot of technology for the first time, and sometimes I don’t get it quite right. A few of you found the form on my Organizational Services page or you emailed me directly – which was great! I love hearing from you all – thanks!!! If you still want to contact me about helping you organize a space in your home, or just have a question you’d like to ask to get started with your latest project, you can submit this form for me to contact you.
Back to closets! Do you get overwhelmed by cleaning out your closets every season? I know most of you – like me – live in climates that the weather changes drastically every 3-4 months and you need basically a new wardrobe with each season change. Here is where I’d love to give you some ideas about how to make your wardrobe versatile so you need less, and layer and assemble super cute outfits to avoid a wardrobe switch every season. Well, I’m not that gal! So, if you are like me and feel like your kids clothes are never in season and the right size for more than about 6 weeks, I’m guessing you’ve been doing the clothes shuffle lately as well.
As with most areas of my home, I don’t have a written down, regimented, organizational schedule. I just re-order spaces throughout our home as they start to seem inefficient. For example, every summer I have to clear out the winter gear and school bags to make room for the summer swim bags, baseball hats, and other warm weather gear in the mudroom. For that reason I always find myself sorting closets at least twice a year to overhaul the items that are out-of-season or too small. This is my process…
1. I don’t put new clothes purchased for the “season ahead” or “next size up” in my kids’ closets and dressers until they are ready for them. If I do, I get overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I have to look through to find what I want and my kids want to start wearing stuff just because it’s new – not because they really need it yet – which kinda defeats the purpose of being thrifty and buying ahead when things are on sale. We end up finding tank tops in September that still have tags on them, or “school clothes” with stains before the first day of school if I throw the new stuff in as we go.
I have a couple of methods for storing these clothes. I like to use under-bed storage and canvas bins. I keep new clothes I have bought in one location, and I leave the tags on them so there is no question that they are new and should not be worn – just in case a sitter, grandparent or husband could otherwise be persuaded to get them out! Clothes that are out of season, but were say worn the summer before go in canvas bins labeled “out-of-season”. These are the clothes that we won’t need for the season ahead, but I think may still fit long enough to be worn again. For example I had some fleece pajamas and snow pants in one of Addison’s Out-Of-Season bins over the summer – now that bin has some tank tops and swimsuits.
This is the clothes bag that I store under Addison’s bed for “new purchases”…
And these are the canvas bins labeled “Off-Season Clothes”…
2. Once the weather has changed and I am ready to incorporate the new clothes, I sort through what is currently in their closets and dressers. I always wait until school has started to do this, and I do the initial sort while my kids are gone. If they are present they have way too many opinions about what would still be appropriate in winter, and what still fits. i.e. my daughter never would have let me get rid of her favorite gray skirt, even though it is a 3T and her new clothes are a size 5-6.
I remove everything that is too small and put it directly in a trash bag so that my kids can’t sort through it later. The items that I’ll be saving as “off-season” get set aside. There are always a few items that I need my kids to look at – they need to try it on to see if it fits, or I’m not sure if they want to keep it and I don’t care if they do or not. Those items get set aside for a quick “try-on” session when they get home.
This works SO much better than making them stand there while I sort clothes and try on a million things – that always ends in tears. When my kids were wearing infant and smaller toddler sizes I would try on a few pieces before I got started and then used those as a guide without making them try on every last thing!
3. Once the old stuff is out I re-organize what is staying. For this season, I sorted Addison’s summer dresses that could be layered for fall, tank tops that will go under sweaters and t-shirts by category. Of course they were neatly ordered by those categories throughout the summer – I’m just sharing this step for those of you that might not have managed to keep your categories in order through the previous season… SO kidding! They were a jumbled mess!!!
For kids’ closets, I don’t worry about sorting by color – I just sort by clothing type and call it good. In their drawers I designate a drawer for each type of clothing, and sometimes separate further by size. For example, Addison has a drawer of pants and leggings from last year and another drawer with all of the new/larger size pants. The way she grows I need the 5T now from last year, but am buying size 6 because she’ll need those by December. That way I don’t have to sift through the sizes every time we look for clothes. I use her top drawer now, and know we’ll need to move to the bottom drawer in a couple of months.
4. I then pull out all of the “Off-Season” clothes that have been stored and incorporate those items into the closet. I make sure I do this before putting new clothes away, because it allows me to take inventory of what my kids already have. I inevitably forget about things they have from last year! Once all of that is in place I pull out the new clothes!
Addison has two “off-Season” bins…
I take a look at what I have purchased with what they already have in their closets. This allows me to return things we don’t need (that I probably bought because they were so cute! or such a great deal! ). I also make a list of things that seem to be missing. For example, I found that Addison has 2 pairs of long-sleeve/warm pajamas for winter – probably not enough! On the other hand she has about 8 cardigan sweaters – her favorite item of clothing – but really, I think I can return one or two!
5. Next, I sort the new clothes by color, and fabric weight to wash them and I remove tags as well. You can read this post about how I do laundry, but I am extra particular about sorting by color and fabric weight when clothes are new.
The first time you wash an item is when it is most likely to fade or shrink. After a first wash I will through hot pink in with a dark gray shirt – but for a first wash I divide things up more. Addison had plenty of bright pink clothes to wash that I’m sure contained enough excess die to turn a gray shirt pink! Sorting by fabric type prevents shrinkage, among other things (as explained in my laundry post). Newer dryers sense when moisture is gone from the clothes, and don’t simply run on a timed cycle. So, when you have a heavy sweater and a long sleeve t-shirt in the same load, the t-shirt is shrunk before the sweater is dry.
6. After ALL!!! that laundry has been done (and no, I don’t love that part of the “closet refresh”!) I incorporate the new clothes into the existing closet organizational system by sorting by clothing type/category. Long sleeve t-shirts, sweaters, skirts are all sorted and hung or placed in drawers.
Then I get to stand back and enjoy how it looks. My kids even get a little excited when they get home! My kids look in their closets all excited about the new clothes and how nice everything looks, and fail to notice the “favorites” I took away!
Here are the hanging clothes in Addison’s closet…
This picture also gives you a little glimpse of my daughter’s “playroom closet”. I’ll post about what we did to make her closet more fun someday, but the fact that all of her doll toys are in her closet and she plays in there makes it even more important to me that her clothes are stored neatly and properly. It does make her clothes a little high though, so she has one of the great step-stools that I have mentioned before. See it tucked up against the wall by her baby changing table?…
The stack of empty hangers you see also has a purpose – you may have noticed that there were no empty hangers among her clothes in the photos above – or maybe that’s not something normal people notice! I store empty hangers in a separate spot from clothes for two reasons. 1.) Empty hangers mixed in with hanging clothes takes up valuable space and makes it difficult to keep everything hanging neatly – they tend to get all tangled up. 2.) On laundry day I can quickly grab a whole stack of empty hangers and start hanging – or Addison can! It takes a lot less time than digging through all of the hanging stuff to find empty hangers. I do this with my hangers in all of our closets.
Also, here are the other canvas bins that I use in her closet to store towels, spare sheets, extra blankets, and off-season or too-large shoes. These bins sit above her books and then there are 4 more bins for toys and her purse / handbag collection. (For those of you that know me personally – isn’t it hilarious that my daughter needs a whole bin for her handbags!)
I place the now “off-season” items into the canvas bin, and take the trash bag of clothes to the basement to store for my next garage sale – done!! Actually the garbage bag of clothes is still sitting at the end of the hall from last week – don’t judge! We are painting our basement and I can’t get in the storage area. Why move it twice – right! We also have a dining room table in our living room, a couch in the hall, and our paint clothes in our master tub! With all of our recent painting and organizing projects the house become a bit humorous. My oldest even commented at dinner saying, “Mom, don’t you think it is a little odd that you have a blog called Organized Housewife. Look at this place.” Fortunately his dad told him to “Watch It!”.
You all know I do like to share the reality of my house though – not just the ideal, pretty stuff. I want you to know my heart when it comes to organization – not just my systems! In the process of getting all of those new clothes washed and closets arranged my regular laundry piles grew out of control. That project paired with painting our basement, soccer, and life in general… well, tomorrow will be a “regain order day” for sure! But as I’ve said before, that is why I love my ordered home. It may have some chaos strewn about today, but it is not overwhelming for me to know tomorrow will be a day of regaining control, because everything has a home within our home. To me, that is the joy of being organized – but contrary to how many of us think about it.
We have this high standard in our heads that our homes will never be a mess, but they will often be a mess if we have families we love and a life we enjoy! Being organized is about having orderly closets, and cupboards, and vanities, and desks… where we can easily put it all away and drag it all out again. It isn’t about never having it out, it’s about not being overwhelmed when it is!!!!