Taking Inventory of Your Children’s Clothes

Organizing children’s clothing can be an overwhelming chore for sure.  Today’s guest poster is here to help us simplify this process.  Please welcome Daisha Johnson from The Family Scientista blog.

My husband and I are coming up on our 8th wedding anniversary. Every single one of those years has been spent as students living in very small quarters with our four young children. As a family of 6 the only way to stay sane is to stay organized! I’m excited to share one of my orgnaizing tips that will help you save time and money, a definite plus for those with a busy life on a small budget like us!

With four children, three being girls, we’ve got stacks of boxes of hand-me-down clothes waiting to be worn. When one of the kids is beginning to grow out of a size I usually dig through the closet to find the box of clothes the next size up. I try to plan ahead to see what they might need. This becomes quite tiresome with four kids growing at a rapid rate. I was in those closets and boxes more than I wanted or needed to be.

While shopping a few weeks ago I realized there had to be a better way to keep track of my children’s clothing. I had them sorted out in sizes and in labeled boxes, but I didn’t really know what was inside. A mental picture of the previous wearer at that age just wasn’t cutting it, nor was digging through boxes. I wanted to know what was in the box without having to open it.

So one afternoon, while the kids were napping and my husband was gone, I pulled all the boxes of clothes out of the closets and into the living room. I emptied the boxes one by one taking an inventory of all my children’s clothing, coats, and shoes. Now I know exactly what and how many of each item we had.

For each gender and size (3-6 Month Girl, 3T Boy, 6 Girl etc . . .) I wrote down categories and how many items I had for each. The categories I used were:



Short Sleeve

Long Sleeve








You may also want to add underwear, socks, belts, swimsuits, snow clothes etc….to your list.

Be sure to take inventory of what your kids are wearing that day, clothes that are in their room, clothes in the laundry hamper, coats hanging in the closet and shoes in the basket to get an accurate record.

I chose not to write down details like color or style. It would take more time and those details weren’t important to me. I just wanted the item count.

Having 3 daughters who vary in size and girth I’ve come to realize that keeping shoes in the clothing boxes wasn’t working. My girls haven’t had the same size feet when they’ve worn a certain size of clothes. I’d been muddling through multiple boxes to find shoes that fit. To solve the problem I set aside a separate box for shoes, boy and girl, and wrote down a quick description and size.

Once I took note of all the kids clothes and shoes we own I typed up the inventory, printed it out, and taped it to the boxes. Now my boxes are clearly labeled, looking nice and neat. I have the document saved on my computer for quick reference. I also printed out a mini version to keep in my purse – perfect for taking along to the store.

It took some time and work but now I have a record of all the kids clothes and shoes we own.  No more excuses for over buying or getting the wrong size. The best part is no more shuffling through closets or boxes to find out what’s inside! Time saved is time well spent.

Do you have a system for organizing your children’s clothing?

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Kid Stuff


16 Responses to Taking Inventory of Your Children’s Clothes

  1. 1
    Lynn says

    Right now my clothes are in plastic bags at the bottom of my girls’ closet. Just recently the girls decided that they wanted to play in the closet and have been hanging out on top of the bags of clothes. I need to get them out and put them somewhere else. Looking forward to hearing about how others organize their clothes.

  2. 2
    Missie says

    I only have two children, a 14 yo boy and a five yo girl. So it is not all that hard for me to keep them organized. My boy does a good job on his own sorting through his stuff. When he is done liking or cannot wear a certain item any more, it goes into a plastic bag in the bottom of his closet until the bag is full enough to give to a good friend of his who is about two sizes smaller than my son.

    My daughter is a different story, though. There are so many more items a girl has than a boy…shoes to match different outfits, tights, hair accessories, etc. I go through her drawers and closet about once every 8 wks and get things ready to give away. It keeps me sane to know that the kids are not drowning in clothes and there is less to pick up!

  3. 3
    Sharisse says

    Similar to Missie I have a 15yo son and an 8yo daughter so sorting clothes are not an issue. What I have done that I find is helpful to to keep a box/bag in the garage or laundry room and as they outgrow them I put them in there. When we do laundry & it’s something that is worn out, too small etc… it’s goes directly into the box/bag. As long as I can keep up that routine the clothes never make it back into their drawers and closets and that eliminates the need to ever clean them out. I still do it a couple times a year anyways especially now that they’re getting ready to go back to school.

  4. 4
    Sharon says

    I have boys 7 and 5, a 2 yo girl and a surprise on the way. I put items in long bins by size and season tucked under their beds. This works ok since you see more of the clothes without digging too much but I love this simple idea of categorizing and labeling. That will be my new end of the summer goal! I had wanted to get things straightened out before No. 4 comes but didn’t know where to start. Thanks for the great idea and post!

  5. 5
    crystal m says

    My boy’s clothes are seperated into size. Once some of the clothes start fitting snug, I let him wear them one last time, wash them all together then throw them into the box. 0-3,3-6, 6-12m, 12-18m, 18-24m, 2t,3t, 4t and 4/5, 5t and 5, 5/6 and 6, 7, 8, etc. Now that we are having a girl in October I’ve gone over the boxes with a “boy” at the bottom. It’s not on my heart to get rid of my littlest boys clothes as we are still going strong with building my family :).

  6. 6
    Jackie M says

    I started doing this with my daughter’s clothes when she first came home. I’ve found it a lifesaver for two reasons. One: when I get hand me downs, I know what I actually need. And two: when I’m ready to get rid of them on Kijiji or hand them down to someone else who needs them, I know what I have to give or sell! I love my label maker….:)

  7. 7
    Jenna says

    This is so helpful! I have a 3.5 year old son and 18 month old twin girls. We get tons of hand-me-downs from different people and it is so hard to keep track. Plus I need to know where there are gaps in their clothing so I can buy the few things we need. I’ll definitely try this system!

  8. 8
    Crystal & Co says

    What an awesome idea! With five kids (all boys) we get lots of hand-me-downs!

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. 9
    Kate says

    With 5 “stairstep” boys I came up with a hand- me down system.
    The oldest’s clothes have one line tally, the next 2, the next 3, the next 4 and the youngest gets a line through it for 5. As they outgrow something, I add the next tally and I know just who it now fits. Anything outgrown from the 5 mark is given away. (Yea sure, like any piece of clothes makes it through 5 boys)

  10. 10
    ctdaffodil says

    I have 2 boys 2yrs apart. We get lots of handmedowns from friends and we pass along lots too since the boys have different body types. I have 6 rubbermaid tubs (the rough neck non seethru ones were on supersale at target)

    The oldest has 2 in the bottom of his closet. One is labeled ‘Grow Into’ and one is labled ‘To Small -Pass Down’ that way when he tries something on and we determine its to small it goes right in the bin – because they are 3 sizes different I just wait until the ‘TS-PD’ tub is full to sort it.
    The youngest has 4 bins in his closet – divided by bottoms and tops and then if they are long pants/shorts or sleeve length. They are divided by size inside – biggest on the bottom. Inside the bins on the lids is a list of how many of what size are in there – like khakis-3 size 10
    jeans 5 size 10…..

    I like the roughneck totes because the lid is a little recessed and they dont topple down.

    When the oldest’s to small bin is full I’m usually going through the youngest’s next size so I take the time and do the swap then. Its way better than the misc cardboard boxes I was using.

    Shoes I tend to save the boxes they come in (cleats, hiking & winter boots especially) then when the season is over they go back in the box after a quick clean up and onto the top shelf – to be shopped first. Sneakers and sandals almost never make it to be passed down now. but sometimes they do and if so they go into a hanging shoe bag in the youngests closet with the dress shoes they wear 3 times a year.

    It only took 10 years for me to figure out a system that works for me

  11. 11
    Amy says

    Good ideas! I have a question- do you also separate by season? Or no? I’m just trying to get my brain wrapped around something that will work for me. My kids are staying in sizes across seasons and it’s sort of throwing me off in terms of where to put things. But if I sort Size/Gender/Season seems like it’d be too many categories. And probably silly, but if it’s a 2T that fits like a 18-24M, put with the 18-24M? Thanks!

  12. 12
    Joyce@Joyfulcreations 2 Honor Him says

    Great post, thanks! This is exactly what I am working on this week at my house! (check out my last post) I have 4 girls and it seems like their clothes are taking up half my shed! One of my problems is knowing how much of the hand-me-downs to keep. We get A LOT! In my efforts to scale down what we have, I found a great post by Martianne@ Wonder and Will. She has a spreadsheet of what she keeps and how much of each thing. She will email it to you if you ask her!

  13. 13
    WorkingMom says

    I have a few ways of handling clothes. With three boys at different ages (teen, preteen, toddler), we’ve got hand-me-downs galore. Like ctdaffodil, I have the “To Grow Into” bins for the preteen and toddler, plus a “Resell/Donate” bin for the Baby’s outgrown clothes, in the cellar/laundry area. I don’t bother with lists, as I learned that clothing that fit one child can fit the next child very differently.

    I also have a list similar to Daisha’s, which is put to use when deciding what is needed for back-to-school. I include everything on it, down to underwear, socks, belts, shoes, sneakers, swimsuits, coats, winter gear, particular school clothing (for band concerts) and uniforms/sports clothing. I also make note of the sizes that they’re in so if I see a deal when out shopping, I can grab it.

    I’ve also learned to minimize on all our clothes (think the 80/20 rule), lessening the drain on our space and money.

  14. 14
    The Frugal Family Manager says

    What a great idea! I have everything separated by size in boxes, but would really like to get some bins at some point. Also love your idea of making a list of what you have in each size. I did this when I only had one child, but now that I’m going on 4, I’ve gotten behind. I should set aside some time to do it, though. After 3 boys, I just found out I can get rid of my youngest son’s stuff after he outgrows it, as we are expecting a girl in November! Yay for pink!


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