Keeping Sane While Your Kids Trash Their Wardrobe – Again.

How to Stay Sane When Your Kids Trash Their Wardrobe - Again
Do you face similar wardrobe messes? Read on…

Last week, I received an email from a lovely reader, Tara, begging for help with her daughter’s wardrobe:

“I was hoping you could help me with a task that just won’t stay fixed…my daughters wardrobe.  We regularly sort and toss out clothes but…the wardrobe looks like the clothes have been thrown in and then stirred with a spoon.  Everytime the clothes get put away I have to refold…tooooo big a job and as a full-time working mother…I don’t HAVE TIME!!!! Help!!!!!!!”

Wardrobes can be hard to keep organised – even for adults – because we’re in there every day, multiple times. Throw kids in the mix, and “stirred with a spoon” is a very apt description!


Tara’s daughter is nearly 8, meaning she’s able to help with putting her things away. This should (with time) make Tara’s job a little easier and it’s something I’ve kept in mind with the tips below.

Regardless of the ages of your kids, these tips should help get the wardrobe in order, and keep in that way(ish).


1. Keep Clothes to a Minimum

Tara’s got this one on lockdown, but if you find the sheer volume of kids clothes distressing, you need to declutter – stat.

Tips on Tackling the Wardrobes:

  • start with three empty boxes and at least an hour – more if you’re kids are “helping”
  • clear the bed completely
  • empty the contents of the wardrobe – yep, all of it – on the bed
  • go through everything, piece by piece, and do not move on to the next piece until you decide if you are keeping it, storing it, donating it or throwing it away:
    • keep items that fit and are in good condition
    • store items that no longer fit, but are in very, very good condition (keep these for younger siblings, or friends/family with a younger child)
    • donate items that will not be passed down to younger kids – as long as they are in good order
    • throw away items that are badly stained, torn or out of shape
  • place everything you are keeping in a pile on the bed
  • sort everything else into the three boxes – one for storage, one for donation, one for garbage

Once the wardrobe is decluttered, you are in a better position to sort out the storage…


2. Keep Like With Like

This is my favourite tip for dealing with clothes.

By keeping similar items together, you and your kids know where things are kept, making packing away much easier.

Try storing the following items together:

  • dresses and skirts
  • school uniforms, sports uniforms, etc
  • jackets, hoodies, jumpers, coats
  • shorts, pants, leggings, jeans
  • underwear, singlets, socks
  • pyjamas, craft/painting clothes


3. Divide and Conquer

Keep seasonal clothes separate.

Heavy winter jackets, snow gear, winter boots – keep these in a box during the warmer months. Swimmers, sandals, summer dresses and shorts – these can be stored away in the cooler weather.

By dividing the seasonal clothes and storing them out of sight, you are left with just what you and your kids need access to right now. And that means less to clean up if/when they rip through their wardrobes like the mini-hurricanes they are!


4. Identify a Place for Everything

By showing kids where items belong, you are increasing the chances of them actually putting things back in the right place.

Use images for younger kids or written signs for older kids, and label each of the drawers/baskets with the type of clothing that goes there. Then, if you’re feeling ambitious, make it their responsibility to put the clothes away in the right place.


5. Ensure You Have Enough Storage

You may not have enough storage space for the clothes your kids own.

So declutter first, then look at whether you need another row of hanging space, or a set of drawers or wire baskets in the wardrobe, to accommodate folded items.

If each “type” of clothes have a designated drawer, it will be much simpler to pack away.


6. Reward a Tidy Wardrobe

If your kids can keep their wardrobe tidy for a week, then reward them with pocket money or a treat. If you use star charts or chore charts in your home, then they are already familiar with the idea. If not, you could consider introducing them.

Not only will it help them learn a life skill, but it will make your life easier over time, as your kids get used to doing this chore themselves.


7. Readjust Your Expectations

Kids are messy. If you don’t want to spend hours each week keeping their wardrobes pristinely organised, then learn to relax your standards a little.

No, I don’t mean live in constant grubbiness and mess, but if things get a little out of order, learn to let it go. Providing their clothes aren’t getting dirty or too crumpled, then learn to be OK with it.

You could try tidying the space once a week instead of daily.


Keeping Your Kids Wardrobes Organised
{images via I Heart Organising}


Over To You

Considering my kids are only young, I have limited experience with the particular brand of mess that older kids create.

So do you have any tips for Tara? Tell us below – how do you help keep your kids’ wardrobes in order?


There’s no doubt life can be fast. Often too fast. Too much. Too stressful. Too overwhelming. On days like that we will tell ourselves there’s no time to slow down.
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9 Responses to Keeping Sane While Your Kids Trash Their Wardrobe – Again.

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  2. The volume of kids clothes starts at the basic ‘one (outfit) to wear and one to wash’. They chose their favorites. Extras need to be treated properly (ie:not thrown on the floor). If they treat their clothes properly, they can have as many as you can/ will afford. :-)

  3. I have 2 teens (19 boy and 16 girl) and a little boy who is 8. I have complete control over the little guys clothes…it all fits in 4 drawers.
    Top: socks, undies, shorts
    Middle 1: Pants & PJs
    Middle 2: tshirts
    Bottom: play clothes and stuff that is too big

    The teens…I gave up on a long time ago.
    Best solution:
    1. close the bedroom doors!
    2. teach them at a young age to do their own laundry


  4. You make good suggestions. My number one tip is also to keep the amount to minimum, just what you need and no more.
    My daughter’s clothes are divided in four basket-drawers inside her closet:

    1. socks, panties, pajamas
    2. pants, leggings
    3. tops and dresses
    4. hoodies and cardigans

    she has max. ten pairs of bottoms and ten tops, even though she still has peeing accident sometimes. I just prefer to do laundry more often, instead of having stuffed closets and stuffed laundry hampers.

    She is three (almost four) years old, and I ask her to take her own clean clothes to her closet, and take dirty ones to the laundry (not always, but part of the time). She knows where everything belongs – though her dad doesn’t seem to know ;)

    With older children, I think it’s a good idea to tell them they can have more clothes only if they take care them and put them where they belong.

    It will be interesting to see if I can instill good habits in my daughter, or if she will rebel as a teen! She does seem to be fairly orderly by nature, telling her dad when he puts things in the wrong place ;)

  5. My children (4 & 6) hang and put their own clothes away. I, also, only allow their most used clothes to get within their reach. They have about 4 outfits they regularly wear. The rest (for now clothes, sweaters, or just extra pants and shirts) are folded on the shelf of their closet, easily accessed me. Before I started this system, I had clothes EVERYWHERE. I’m talking on the floor, under the bed, in the LIVING ROOM… well, you get the idea. Now that they actually put them away, they have more respect for keeping them nice. I had to do something. I was constantly washing and putting away clothes. Though this system works WONDERS for our home, I’m always looking to improve. Thank you for your ideas!

  6. I just wanted to add another point that I have recently discovered. When a child grows out of an item, for most, automatically we box it up and keep for the next sibling. My girls are four years apart so there is a long time between wears for the items. I recently opened boxes of old clothes for little sibling and discovered that 70% of the stuff was ruined with the elastic gone. Togs are a big one. After listening to a podcast, I decided I would ONLY keep the ‘handmade’ good dresses and donate the rest or pass on to another child who would use it immediately while it still had life in it. It was nice to see the things that the eldest wore and brought back memories – I won’t lie. But I thought to myself, my youngest deserves me to look at her without thinking ‘oh I remember when x wore that’. Also, after having one child I knew exactly how many onsies I truly needed, which were the best fitting/wearing brands and I found that I had realistically a quarter of what I had for eldest. My other tip is WASH WASH WASH. Buy better quality clothes for everyday wear – never ever white – and wash everyday. Stains in the clothes come right out if you do it everyday and don’t leave them sitting for long periods. And the job doesn’t mount up to become literally a mountain.

    • Thank you for this! I’ve struggled with getting rid of my older son and daughter’s clothes when I have a younger son and daughter who can use them someday. But styles change, and the younger kids may have completely different tastes than the older ones. I’d much rather have someone be able to use and enjoy kids clothes while they’re fashionable, and give my younger kids freedom to express their individuality through clothing they like.

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  8. Also, after having one child I knew exactly how many onsies I truly needed, which were the best fitting/wearing brands and I found that I had realistically a quarter of what I had for eldest. My other tip is WASH WASH WASH. Buy better quality clothes for everyday wear – never ever white – and wash everyday. Stains in the clothes come right out if you do it every day and don’t leave them sitting for long periods. And the job doesn’t mount up to become