little girl and her clothing collection

While having a neatly arranged space for your child’s clothes might sound ideal, making that wish become a reality isn’t always easy. For starters, there might be a lot to sort through.

When asked whether their children had more clothing, footwear and accessories than they did, 53 percent of U.S. parents said “yes,” according to a survey released in July 2014 by coupon site What’s more, 65 percent of parents said their sons and daughters own far too much clothing.

Fortunately, finding what your child loves, and pinpointing smart spots to store items, will naturally lead to a streamlined space. It all begins with the right mindset. “When it comes to kids, you have to be realistic about what you keep,” professional organizer Robyn Reynolds said.

Follow these six tips for getting your child’s closet into tip-top shape.

1. Empty Everything.

disorganized closet

For the project, choose a day and block off a few hours, professional organizer Kristin MacRae suggested. Then, start by taking everything out of the closet.

As you pull out items, place them in categories. Put clothes in one pile and toys in another. Place goods that could be stored somewhere else, such as seasonal sporting goods, extra bedding or photo albums, in a different stack.

2. Evaluate Clothing.

After creating a pile of your child’s clothes, sort through each item. Clothing that no longer fits can be stored for a younger sibling, placed in a bag to give away, or set aside to sell online or at a garage sale. For online sales, consider tools such as Totspot or ThredUP that let you buy and sell apparel.

Stash clothes that your child will grow into, professional organizer Bonnie Dewkett suggested. Perhaps the closet can hold a container of clothes that are a couple of sizes too big in the closet. If not, consider storing that container under a bed.

girl choosing dress

3. Get Your Child Involved.

If the pile of clothes that fit your child seems too large for the closet, ask your son or daughter to look through the pieces with you. You might find your kid doesn’t regularly wear or isn’t interested in some shirts or pants.

To reduce the number of toys, ask your child to give some away. Dewkett said that rather than making the donation open-ended, give your son or daughter a container, such as a laundry basket, to fill. This way, kids “won’t feel as though they have to donate all of their toys,” she said.

4. Make the Space Kid-Friendly. 

To maximize the closet space, consider putting in a mobile shelving unit to store toys, books and games, Reynolds said.

Use plastic hangers for clothes, as kids easily can slide items on and off them. Also, ask your child for input on where to place various categories of clothing, such as shirts, shorts, pajamas, socks and dress clothes.

Hang hooks on the back of a closet door to hold jackets, hats or accessories.

organized kid's closet

5. Remove Clutter-Gathering Items.

In a different area of the house, such as the front entryway, set up a drop zone or cubby space, professional organizer Maeve Richmond suggested. This will let your child keep often-used stuff, such as homework projects or school materials, somewhere outside the closet.

To prevent dirty clothes from gathering in the closet, add an easy-to-access hamper.

Also, if you came across stacks of schoolwork when emptying the closet, take a careful look at what can be tossed. “You don’t need to keep every test paper,” Reynolds said.

6. Focus on Maintenance.

Use common organizational language when picking up with your child, Richmond said. For instance, instead of saying “Please put that away,” try asking, “Where does that live?”

You should plan to evaluate the closet and its organizational setup two or three times a year. “Systems are crucial,” MacRae said.

If the space becomes messy, the system might not be working for your kid. “You might have to tweak it so it fits the child,” MacRae said.

Second photo courtesy of Rubbermaid; bottom photo courtesy of Home Design Ideas

Rachel Hartman