It seems like children’s clothes get out of control so quickly! It is always the worst when we are in between seasons (like now), when it’s not consistently hot or cold.
It’s really not easy keeping our children’s clothes in check. Here are some methods that can help keep you 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?
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
You’ll find that when you have too many clothes, drawers get overstuffed and there isn’t room to hang anything else in the closets. That basically means it’s time to go through clothes and purge heavily. Clothes hanging out of every drawer in the dresser will make you go crazy!
Plus you don’t want your child to give you an excuse to not put his/her clean clothes away: “Mama, I couldn’t possibly put my clothes away. I can’t put anything else in the drawers.”
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 Salvation Army, 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
It’s a great idea to save your clothes for any future children. It does require organization, but you will be thankful for taking the time to do this. Even if you do not have another child, your friend, sister, brother, or cousin will be grateful. Keep in mind – 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. We recommend separating items of clothing by garment and size and storing in labeled Ziploc bags.
Task: Determine what storing method you’ll use 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.