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Ideas for Organizing Kids' Outside Clothes

The first snow falls, and your child is anxious to go outside and play in it. But where are her boots? Does that coat from last year still fit? You’re hoping you can scrounge up a pair of matching gloves. Eliminate the last-minute scurry by organizing your child’s outside clothing ahead of time. Children -- especially younger ones -- grow in and out of clothes quickly. Organizing hats and mittens when you have a number of children in the house can be trouble, says Julie Stobbe, a professional organizer and owner of Mind over Clutter in Niagra Falls, Canada. But if you put a few organizational ideas into practice, you’ll be ready to meet the challenge of getting your little one out the door and into the fun.

Involve Family

Include your child in the process of organizing her clothes. You'll probably be using coat hooks, so make sure she can easily reach them. If she can't, her coat will end up in a heap on the floor. The storage units you choose or the drawers she'll need to open and close should fit her size and strength. Take her with you when you buy storage containers. She can help you decorate them with labels and decals for the seasons. If you ask her opinion, she'll have a vested interest in the outcome of the organization.

Teach your child how to keep her clothing in good shape by storing it appropriately. If she learns that there's a proper place for everything, that organizational skill will stay with her for life. You'll have to follow through, though: If she figures out that you're going to bail her out each time she leaves her clothing in various spots around the house, she’ll never learn to keep it organized on her own.

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Declutter

Gather all the outdoor clothing. In addition to winter clothes, you may have items such as raincoats and bonnets for spring, jackets for fall, and hats for summer. Let your children put on a fashion parade for you, so you can see which clothes still fit. You can do this all at once or at the beginning of each season, depending on the amount of outdoor clothing they have.

Clothes that no longer fit and can't be used for younger siblings should be placed in a large bag for donation. Clothes that are tattered or have seen better days can be tossed into a trash bag and thrown away or recycled into scrap material. The remaining clothes should be separated into seasonal piles.

Sort

Let the sorting begin! Sorting is a skill all children should develop, so enlist their help. Match two-piece outfits. Clip pairs of mittens together. Sort the gear into categories, such as coats, scarves and gloves.

Buy clear plastic bins for the items so you can quickly see what's in them. Label them according to categories: "girls' winter hats" or "size 3 snowsuits." If you have toddlers or preschoolers who can't yet read, put pictures on the bins so they can identify the contents. Containers on casters work well for seasonal clothing because they can be rolled in and out of the storage area easily. Place items that are not immediately needed on top shelves, and keep seasonal clothing close at hand.

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Personalize

If possible, color-code each child. Choose black items for one child, blue items for another child and animal prints for a third child. This helps everyone know who has not tidied up and who is wearing the wrong items without any conflict occurring.

You may have bought new items only to realize later you already had them, you just couldn't find them. Solve this problem with a wall or over-the-door hanging shoe organizer with plastic pockets, suggests Stobbe. Each child can have a column or row of pockets to store items such as hats, mittens and scarves. There are a limited number of pockets, but items don't get lost so you won't need to run out and buy more.

Always have a stack of mitten dryers by the entrance way, one for each child. When the kids come indoors, damp items, including boots, go on the dryers. Instead of being moldy and wet, items will be dry and ready to use.

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