Making it easy for kids to dress themselves

Well our summer guest post series is coming to an end. Doesn’t mean I won’t still be accepting guests around here, just probably not on a weekly basis.  Today we’ve got Beth visiting and while she doesn’t have a public blog she is an Org Junkie reader and wanted to share the method she uses for organizing her boys clothes.   I can’t believe I’ve never thought to do this.  Anytime we can empower our kids to manage a task on their own is a very smart thing.  Welcome Beth!

Mornings have a reputation for being a bit chaotic, but before my oldest son started kindergarten, it wasn’t disastrous if we couldn’t find a matching pair of socks or if there were lots of jeans in the boys’ drawers but no shirts.  We just took the time to find whatever was lacking.  Once school became a part of our lives, each minute in the morning was much more precious. Also, my boys were in charge of putting their laundry away and their drawers were prime examples of organization-gone-wrong.  Very wrong.

After some experimenting, I came up with the following solution:

I had GnomeClothes from Etsy make me several sets of mesh bags in three different colors (she makes produce bags; I gave her my dimensions and requirements, and she made me some wonderful bags!)

Those colors matched the laundry tubs my sons were already using.

After doing laundry, I assemble several sets of pants, shirts, socks, and underwear and slide each set into a bag.

The boys are in charge of putting away their laundry bags and any leftover laundry (usually pajamas and extra socks and such).

They find it is much easier and faster to put away the bags (which means they’re more willing to do it!) and they always have a complete set of clothes to wear in the mornings (and the outfits match too!).

For church clothes, I tied a purple ribbon to the bag; the boys know not to use that bag until Sunday morning.

It does take a little time up-front for me, but it pays off every morning we have a little less chaos!

My system travels pretty well too – when we drive to visit my parents, I simply calculate the number of days we’ll be gone, throw that number of bags and a pair of PJs for each boy into one big tub and they’re packed!

My husband and I have three boys, 7, 5, and 2. (my middle boy, the one in the pictures, just started kindergarten today! And yup, used his little blue bag to get dressed). I’m a speech and language therapist by training, but teach early childhood music and movement classes these days. I’m NOT naturally organized, and frequently feel like Sisyphus when trying to keep the house in livable shape – and that was true even before we added three boys to the mix!

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Kid Stuff, Organizing Solutions


29 Responses to Making it easy for kids to dress themselves

  1. 1
    Gilda says

    I don’t think that would work with my daughters. They are VERY particular about choosing their clothes and what goes together – and the same combination is not necessarily going to be preferred two days later. But I think maybe having her choose her clothes at least a bit in advance (the week’s worth of sets) and putting them aside might work. Great tip for getting us thinking about morning routines before school.

    • 1.1
      Beth says

      I definitely have the luxury (?!?) of having boys who do not care one whit about what they’re wearing. I imagine when they start caring, we’ll switch systems! Probably to something like you’re thinking about here: having the kids help plan the combinations.

  2. 2
    Karen says

    Awesome idea! Thanks.

  3. 3
    Lain says

    Cute idea! I have one child who doesn’t care what he wears, one who changes five times a day and rebels at every suggestion I make, and one who still let’s me pick her clothes, as long as they’re girly. 🙂

    I don’t worry too much about the inside of the drawers as long as the tops and bottoms are in the respective drawers.

  4. 5
    Marcia Francois, Organising Queen says

    I love this idea.

    I’ll tell you what I do with my twins (who are only 13 months old) – I put tops, bottoms, bibs, socks and shoes in an organiser, about 3 – 4 days at a time.

    It saves SO much time in the mornings.

    I can’t wait for them to dress themselves one day using the same system 🙂

    • 5.1
      Beth says

      I got the idea from this actually – but my kids are rather short and couldn’t reach the top sections and I was really going for independence! Plus I can do a lot of days all at once because I have a lot of bags. I went from the organizer notion to using plastic ziploc bags, but my husband pointed out that with our crew, it probably wouldn’t be long before they were putting the bags on their own heads or the (at that time) baby’s head. That’s when I thought of finding some sort of breathable bag. And of course, they’ve never once put a bag on someone’s head …

  5. 6
    Damsel says

    I did something similar when DH left for basic training/AIT for the Army. He was going to be gone for the whole school year. Our son was 4 and had started preschool. I was pregnant with our second, due in January, and I was teaching full-time. I bought six clear rubbermaid shoe boxes and put a label with the days of the week (Mon-Sat) on each one, along with some dinosaur stickers. Each Sunday, I’d put a whole outfit in each box, and line them up in order on a short shoe shelf in his closet. Each morning, he’d grab his bucket for the day and get dressed. Three years later, we’re still using the same system!

  6. 7
    Kendra says

    Great in theory, and I can see it working for playclothes, but how on earth do you keep from having everything come out wrinkled to death?

    • 7.1
      Beth says

      You know, they just don’t seem to end up very wrinkled. They never end up balled up in the bag and it’s light years better than when they were putting the clothes straight into the drawers. Of course, I’m not a totally wrinkle-free person and I do have boys who wear pants and shirts that are easily folded. Truly fancy stuff, like wedding wear, is hung in the closet and they don’t have any contact with it unless they’re in it (!). I imagine it would be trickier with skirts or something.

  7. 8
    Sharisse says

    My 8yo ans 15yo both wear uniforms so thankfully getting dressed in the mornings haven’t been hectic for me. They both use the pockets that hang in the closet and when laundry is done they just place them back in their individual pockets. Where my mornings are hectic is breakfast and lunch (if bringing that day).

  8. 9
    Dereth says

    I love this idea. I will probably copy it! I think if you folded the clothes then they would stay pretty neat. Although, I can see my boys throwing them around, but they do that anyway when they put away their own clothes. Great tip!

  9. 10
    Stephanie's Mommy Brain says

    Cute idea. We just installed a closet system in my sons closet. I LOVE having the bar low enough for them to take care of their own clothes. They are 5 & 7 and do a pretty good job of selecting clothes and putting them away. I have different colored hangers for each boy so no one confuses the clothes.

  10. 11
    Anne says

    I have an easier solution: I bought laundry baskets from the clearance rack at Target after the “back to school/dorm” sale last year and use those to store my kids’ clothes – short-sleeve shirts go in one, long sleeve in another, short in one, and pants in another. These are then stored on a shelf in the hall closet that is in easy reach of the kids. So, in the morning, they can go in and pick out what they want to wear, with some color and weather guidance from mom. That way, they learn how to match clothes and to account for the weather. Best of all, when we do laundry, it’s my oldest’s (6 years old) job to sorts the clean kids clothes put them away in the right basket.

  11. 12
    Kristi says

    We hang everything but shorts underwear pj’s and socks. They go in baskets in the bottom of the closet. We took the closet doors off and hung 2 rods one low enough for my 4 year old and one high enough that he can’t reach it. My 4 year old loves hanging things up in his closet and the ability to pick out his own shirt and pants in the morning. If there is something that I don’t want him to wear I just hang it on the rod that he can’t reach. I like the bag idea we use a similar technique when packing for trips but we use gallon zip lock bags. It works great and you never have to worry if you need to pack something up that is wet.

  12. 13
    Tiff says

    Best thing about this post was the reference to Sisyphus in Beth’s bio paragraph… hilarious! I can so relate to that, and to her admission of not being able to blame it on having 4 kids because I, too, was disorganized before they came along (a perfectionist who procrastinates until it can be done perfectly…so it never gets done!). Thanks for sharing!

  13. 14
    Rebecca says

    Love this idea! I have two little boys (18m and 3yr) We don’t have school yet but I work 3 days a week and am NOT a morning person. Thanks so much for sharing. To me that the best part of blogs the ideas and sharing that help you figure out what might work for your family.

  14. 15
    Beth says

    There are a lot of great ideas here in the comments section – thanks for sharing them!

  15. 16
    2horseygirls says

    I have used gallon Ziplocs for years – I only have one, and she never showed an interest in putting them over her head 😉

    It made it really easy to send clothes on vacation or to her dad’s for the weekend (we’re divorced). I always knew what she had with her would fit, and wasn’t missing socks, undies or hair pretties. And her dad just had to pop the dirty clothes back in the bag, so I actually got all my clothes back!

    However, now she is 10 1/2 (!!!) and her clothes are too big for ziplocs. Thanks for the Etsy link – this may be a whole new revenue stream for her! (Although I bet I could find some mesh on sale and whip up my own by hand…hmmm……)

  16. 17
    Shantel says

    We do this too – but we use the 2 gallon ziploc bags. It really does work well –

  17. 18
    Anne says

    I love your idea, Beth, especially for traveling. Our suitcases always end up a disaster and it’s very difficult to find what we want in there. This would really simplify that.

  18. 19
    Kaitlyn says

    I use the baskets, when we do laundry, it’s my oldest’s job to sorts the clean kids clothes put them away in the right basket. It is great for responsibility and he also has fun with it!

  19. 20
    Kathryn says

    Couldn’t help but smile reading about your boys and their bags for their clothes. When my daughter first went to Girl Scout camp, we were looking for a solution to help her look “matched” each day and so that she would not have difficulty finding all the pieces for an outfit. We put together “packages” of clothes (one for each day she’d be gone plus an extra). All the pieces of an outfit folded together in a Ziploc bag. Each day she just pulled an outfit “package” from her duffle bag. Thanks for reminding us of a memory which brings a smile (Note: She’s now 33 !)

  20. 21
    DemMom says

    I was going to say what the first commenter said: My 2 girls would never go for this for the same reasons! But they are used to picking out their clothes the night before. Doing this has made our lives easier… that and me not worrying about whether or not they “match.” They’re kids, it’s the only time they can get away with these crazy outfits, so I let them be creative!

  21. 22
    Amanda says

    I started doing something like this when my daughter was an infant. I put her matching outfits (which usually came with matching socks and hats) in gallon sized ziploc bags. This was mostly to help my husband on the mornings he had to get her up and dressed because he didn’t understand that she had to be dressed AND cutely coordinated! All he had to do in the morning was grab a bag and the entire outfit with accessories would be there for him. Now that my daughter is 7 she has her own sense of style and wouldn’t dream of allowing me to pick her outfits!

  22. 23
    Stephanie says

    Picking clothes isn’t too bad at our house because DD has to wear a uniform to school, but we still have our crazy mornings. So, as part of the before bed routine, each kiddo picks out the jammies they want to wear to bed and we get their outfits ready for the next morning. That way as each kid wakes up they know where their clothes are for the day and can get dressed immediately. Makes it so much easier for me!


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