We are fast approaching back-to-school time, and in this first part of a two-part series, I am going to share with you how to get way ahead of the game with a quick project to ease your way into the season.
Soon, back-to-school sales will be promoted everywhere, with great deals on clothing and supplies. Some states even have a sales tax holiday you can enjoy and reap significant savings. But the only way to take full advantage of these savings is to know what you need in the first place!
You can save the most time, money, and hassle if you know what you already have that works, what each child needs for the current season and what each child needs for the next season. So I’m going to help you get a step ahead by getting your kids’ clothing organized for some savvy shopping.
Ten Steps to Back-To-School Clothing Organization
Typically, you want to get as much of this project done as possible without the kids and involve them for a targeted amount of time at the end. If kids are older or if they are interested in the process, they may benefit from being involved so that they can learn from what you’re doing.
You’ll need the following supplies to get started: paper grocery sacks, plastic storage bins, permanent marker, paper and pen (optional: label maker for bins)
- Get the laundry done as much as possible to give you a full view of what you have. As you fold the laundry, note the sizes of the kids’ underwear, shirts and pants. Also make a note of anything that needs to be replaced.
- Tell the kids you’re going to ask them later to try on a few clothes to see if they fit. Many children cooperate better if they have been given advance notice to transition into activities.
- Start with the folded clothing in their dresser drawers, such as socks, underwear, shorts and sweaters. Check each item for size and wear-and-tear, neaten it up and organize it as needed. Make note along the way of anything you need to purchase.
- If you’re not sure whether something fits, start a try-on pile for each child for later.
- Anything that has been outgrown can be placed in a paper sack to donate to Goodwill®. Mark the bag with the permanent marker with the word “donate.” You can also label and use the bags to sort other items like toys that need putting away in other rooms.
- If you have younger family members who may want outgrown items as hand-me-downs, put these items in storage bins and label the full boxes by gender, range of sizes and season.
- Next, move to the closet and tackle the hanging clothing. Keep noting what needs replacing and areas that are coming up short. Consider everything in terms of “good school clothes” and count how many shirts, pants and dresses will currently work.
- Once you’ve gone through all of each child’s clothing, take whatever’s left in the try-on pile and grab the kids for a try-on session. Some kids may be more cooperative if you let them try-on while they watch a favorite show as a treat, and some may think it’s a big fun fashion show! Do have fun with it and work with your child’s preferences to make it painless for everyone.
- Write down everything you notice that is needed and the correct sizes for everyone. Don’t forget underwear, socks, belts, ties, hair accessories, jackets, sweaters, school uniforms, “party clothes,” athletic shoes, casual shoes and dress shoes.
- Take your bags of donations to your nearest Goodwill donation center. You can find the closest one at https://goodwillvirginia.org/location-finder/ You’ll be helping people in your own community get job-related services and training while you help the planet too! Ask your local Goodwill about items that are torn or stained — they may be able to recycle them and keep them out of the landfill too.
Now you’re ready! Your kids’ clothes are organized, and you have a list of exactly what you need to get from the big sales in a few weeks. And don’t forget the bargains you can get every day shopping at Goodwill, where gently used kids’ clothing can be the perfect way to save even more.
Lorie Marrero is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Woman’s Day contributing editor and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life and The Home Office Handbook. She also created ClutterDiet.com and is a spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International.