Does your child wear the same shirt day after day or complain they can’t ever find their favorite jeans? Keeping drawers organized can be a struggle for many kids. But if your child has trouble with organization or , it may be even harder.
You can reduce everyone’s frustration by helping your child organize their messy dresser drawers. It’s a good idea to hear your child’s thoughts and ideas before making any changes. But once your child has a system in place, maintaining it is much easier. Here’s how to get started.
1. Clear some space and dump out the drawers.
Clear off your child’s bed or make some space on the floor. If there are already clothes on the floor, then have your child help you separate what’s dirty and clean. Put the dirty clothes into a hamper and put all the clean items into an empty laundry basket. Next, you can both dump the contents of the laundry basket and the dresser drawers into a big pile on the floor or the bed.
2. Sort into piles by type of clothing.
Sit down with your child and start sorting the clothes into distinct piles. For example, put all T-shirts in one pile and all long-sleeved shirts in another. It’s better to be more specific at first, such as separating jeans and leggings into their own piles instead of just having a pile for pants. You can always combine them later.
3. Throw away or give away old or outgrown clothes.
While you have all your child’s clothes out, it’s a good time to do some weeding. Keep a trash bag handy for clothes that your child has outgrown or doesn’t wear anymore. Those things can be handed down or given to charity. Have another bag ready so you can throw away socks with holes or other things that are really worn out.
4. Decide on a system.
See if you have enough drawers for each pile and decide on a system. If you don’t have as many drawers as you have piles, help your child choose which types of clothes can share a drawer. For instance, does your child want T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts together?
You might decide it makes more sense to sort clothes by season. You could put shorts and T-shirts in one drawer and long-sleeved shirts and long pants in another.
Another option is to sort by how your child gets dressed in the morning. Kids who have trouble with sequencing may find it easier to have underwear in the top drawer, shirts in the next drawer, pants in the drawer after that, then socks and sweatshirts in the bottom drawer.
5. Prep and label drawers.
Since the goal is for your child to maintain this organization system, it can help to label the drawers. Younger kids might benefit from a picture stuck to each drawer. Older kids might just need labels that say “shirts” or “pants.”
You may want to buy drawer dividers to keep your child’s sock and underwear drawer a little tidier. You could also make dividers out of cardboard or place items in shoe boxes inside the drawer.
6. Teach your child to fold clothes.
If your child has motor skills issues, your child may have trouble keeping clothes organized because folding is hard. Walk your child through the steps while demonstrating how to fold T-shirts, pants, and other items of clothing into rectangles of approximately the same size.
If folding continues to be a struggle or is something you also have trouble with, there are other options. You could invest in a flip-folding board. It’s a fun and fast way for your child to fold everything into a uniform size. You may also try rolling clothes into tight, compact pieces instead of folding them.
7. Consider storing clothes vertically.
Many kids stack items of clothing one on top of the other in their drawers. That can be one reason why your child may wear the same clothes over and over again. Your child sees only the clothes on the top and rarely gets to the ones at the bottom.
Stacking clothes vertically, starting from the front of the drawer to the back, has several benefits. It saves room, but it also helps your child see more options when opening the drawer. It also allows your child to sort by color, texture, and other favorite characteristics. (If you’re unsure how to stack clothes vertically, see how in the video at the top.)
Cleaning a messy room isn’t always fun or easy. But starting with your child’s drawers can help get clothes off the floor and show your child how to successfully maintain their room. Explore more ideas for getting — and staying — organized. And read about the organization strategies one mom put into place after losing one too many pairs of mittens.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Cindy Goldrich, EdM is a mental health counselor and a board-certified ADHD coach, educating and supporting families and professionals.