For kids, going back to school can be very exciting. It’s a clean slate: New teachers, new classes, and new things to learn. Notebooks are crisp and blank. Pencils are freshly sharpened. Hopes are high.
And, of course, as the summer ends, the important part begins: pulling together those new back-to-school outfits.
Call me crazy, but I actually look forward to it each August. My kids and I have fun shopping together and looking forward to a new year for them. But I know that for many parents, it can be a stressful time.
Here’s how you can approach back-to-school shopping so you get things accomplished and have fun!
Get Prepared with this Easy Plan
First, you need to prepare for shopping. I get each of my three children in the mindset for the closet clean-out and back-to-school shopping ahead of time. (No springing it on them that morning!)
The next step is to conduct a closet inventory with each child privately and look at what’s working and what isn’t. The goal is to refresh the closet from top to bottom and get a very clear idea of what is needed when you go back-to-school shopping.
How to Conduct Your Kids’ Closet Inventory
1. Take out each section at a time – e.g. hanging shirts or folded pants.
2. Hold up one piece of clothing and look at three criteria. If it fits any of these, it gets donated:
- Holes, rips or other damage. (Donation centers usually have options for recycling damaged clothing.)
- Doesn’t fit.
- The child doesn’t like it.
There’s no reason to hold on to items that don’t look good, don’t fit or aren’t loved. It’s better to give those items a new home!
3. If the item needs to be discarded, it goes into a bag for Goodwill. If it can be kept, the clothing item goes back in its proper place in the closet.
4. One exception is that if it’s a meaningful item that isn’t used anymore, it can be stored in each child’s keepsake box. I’ve trained my kids from an early age that we don’t keep things that have no function or no meaning!
5. Now, you have your shopping list! Based on what was discarded, each child now knows what they need for their back-to-school shopping trip!
Bonus Tips: Keep It Simple
This whole process, although somewhat time consuming, is pretty easy for us. Why? Because my kids’ closets are already organized. There’s no rummaging through piles, boxes, or mismatched clothing items. There’s a system in place and the kids are responsible for putting things back where they belong.
This can work for you too! Always organize kids’ clothing in clearly categorized sections that are easily viewed and accessible:
- Socks and undies in baskets that are easy to see through. (Not in drawers – too messy!)
- All shirts on hangers, organized by style or occasion, such as T-shirts, long sleeves, dressy.
- Pants folded on shelves.
- Shoes on shelves (or, in organized cubbies by the front door or hall closet).
If you don’t have a custom kids closet system in place, get creative with baskets and crates!
A great way to implement this system for your kids is to make it part of the closet inventory process I outlined above.
Even if different clothing items are scattered throughout the closet, you can take out like items together, inventory them, and then put them back in one section. For example, start by pulling out all of the T-shirts. Identify a spot for them to live, and when you’re done with the inventory, put the keepers all back together in that spot. Do this for each clothing type, and by the end, you’ll have an organized kids’ closet!
Would these tips work for you? Do you have any smart strategies that keep back-to-school preparations fun and organized? Let me know in the comments!
Ginny Snook Scott is the chief organization officer at California Closets. She has over 25 years experience with California Closets and has helped over 1,000 clients globally organize their home.