With spring-like temperatures making a visit this past week my girls started requesting more spring-like clothes. I know the cold days will return. But I agree it was time to move the heavy sweaters aside.
I always dread the task of changing out their closets for a new season. This time I’m getting an early start, taking inventory of what they need and taking advantage of spring break sales for the things I need to buy. With the system we have in place now, I am pleased to say reorganizing their clothes this season will not be such a dreaded task.
Heck, I already started filling baskets with items to put aside for fall consignment sales, which I pass over to the Little Red Hen Consignment Tagging Services to be tagged, priced, and taken to a consignment sale for me. It’s a beautiful thing and it helps me keep organized without getting overwhelmed by the task of doing it all myself.
My two older girls share a small walk-in closet. When setting it up I had several goals in mind to make it work for both of them, foster independence and function in an orderly way which they can help maintain. They have both attended a Montessori school since they were two, and our closet system tries to bring home those philosophies of setting up an environment for a child to succeed at doing things themselves.
One, is to have things easily accessible for them to reach. Underwear and undershirts are kept in baskets hanging in their closets versus separate dressers with big drawers that are too cumbersome for them to manage. Three-to-five sets of play clothes are also kept in baskets for when they need a mid-day change of clothes. My five-year-old’s clothes are hung down low for her to reach them. A children’s stool is kept in the closet for them to reach rarely used things that must go up high to save space for more frequently used items down low.
Two, is to have things designed to make mornings run smoothly. Outfits are paired as “complete outfits.” For example, long-sleeve shirts for layering, dresses and leggings are hung together – by placing a rubber band around the hangers grouping the items as a “complete outfit.” The girls pick out their outfits the night before and hang them out by their beds for in the morning. This way there is no scrambling for pieces and parts, or hem-hawing over what to wear. It is a chore for me to hang all their clothes this way, but it pays off. And they like it when things get mixed and matched up differently, making old clothes feel like new outfits.
Three, is to have individual hampers for them and a system for laundry. Hampers are placed in their closets to help prevent all the dirty clothes from landing on the floor. I’ve started keeping all their laundry separate because it makes it easier to put it away. I wash all socks, undergarments, pajamas and play clothes (that go in baskets) separately for each child. They are responsible for helping to put those items away. Pajamas go in a small dresser next to their bed. Socks go in bins with their shoes by the door, with their coats and school bags.
Four, is to have baskets set up in the top of their closet for outgrown and out of season items. One basket is for items that will get donated, one is for items that go to consignment sales, one is for out of season items that I think will get used again and one is for outgrown items that get passed down to the next sister. Each girl has this set up on the top shelf above her side of the closet.
Five, is a place for towels. Living in a 90-year-old house we don’t have the luxury of linen closets or bathroom storage. So on the wall in their closets, next to their hanging baskets, are hooks where they keep their bath towels. Again these are kept within reach for them to hang up their own towels. Along with a basket of clean towels for them to choose from.
I’m not going to mislead you and tell you it always runs as perfectly as it sounds. Yes towels get left on the floor and yes I find dirty socks under the beds, like everyone else. But it does make things easier for my girls to have things laid out in a way that works for them.
It’s a system that has been tweaked and changed over the years as my girls grow and advance through different developmental stages. The hampers and baskets in their closets have been in use since they were born and were part of their nursery decor. We reuse hangers from the store and rarely buy new ones. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a closet like this work. When we needed an extra shelf we simply cut some boards at the hardware store and put them up ourselves using existing trim that was on the wall. Same for installing a low hanging rod for my five-year-old’s clothes.
Yes there have been times when I’ve dreamed about new closets in new homes and custom built-in shelving systems. But not having these things, or even a big dresser, has forced us to get creative, use what we have and make things work. And for now, it’s working quite nicely.
So come on spring. Bring it on. I’m ready this year!