Keep Kids' Closets Under Control

Are your little clotheshorse's closets busting at the seams? Get organized with these space-saving tips.

It’s one thing to get them dressed, but managing the volume and variety of kids’ clothing as well as their tastes – especially when you have more than one child – is a constant challenge. Here are some tips from parents in the trenches:

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• Weed out continually. Don’t wait until the end of the season to pull out clothing that is too small or worn out. Keep a large shopping bag or plastic storage bin in your child’s closet and let items accumulate there. This way, you’ll have a jump on the end-of-season sorting madness.

• Label, label, label! Invest in a bunch of plastic storage bins and labels. “When my oldest daughter outgrows something, I throw it into a bin and give it a detailed label,” says Samantha, a mother of two girls. “I can tell pretty quickly what I have for my youngest daughter to use.”

• Be ruthless. If it hasn’t been worn in a year, get rid of it. If it’s not being used, it shouldn’t be taking up space.

• Get a system. If you do the twice-annual clothes sorting-and-storage routine, create a plan of attack before you begin. One good method is to have four different piles for each child:

1. Save (for future children or friends – be sure to label).

2. Give away (things to donate to charity or give to friends or family).

3. Throw away (for things that are beyond hope).

4. Sell (on consignment, at a yard sale or on eBay).

Color code each pile’s container so you don’t get lost.

• Give eBay a whirl. Like many parents these days, Leah, a mother of six, has made selling on eBay a cottage industry for herself. Don’t sell no-name items or clothing that is not in perfect condition, she advises, since you’re not likely to make enough profit to be worth your time. But for brand name clothing that is in tip-top shape, eBay can be a great source of pocket money.

• Give choice, to a degree. For younger children, give two outfit options in the morning and let them choose. That way, it’s less likely they will shun any particular outfit. Once you have an idea of what your older child will and won’t wear, try to ensure the clothes that come into the house meet his exacting standards so piles of perfectly good clothing won’t sit around unused. Sell or give away anything that’s not being used.

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