Monday, February 11, 2013

Controlling Closet Chaos

There's not a TON to do to get ready for baby #2. I mean sure, we need to mentally prepare for bringing another human into this world, and then raising said human for the next several decades. But other than those small details, we're pretty much set.

And now that we know it's a girl, there's not much to buy. (Dustin argues there's nothing left to buy, but that just can't be true. But the nesting urge doesn't go away just because we've done this before. So if I can't satisfy that need with baby gear research and registry least I can organize the stuff I already have. And whoo-boy do we have a lot of stuff. Commence- project baby clothes organization.'s where we started: 

I had bins, and I've been trying to keep things separated by size. But with Piper constantly amassing more clothes (yes...I blame her...who else?) it's a bit of a losing battle. I knew for a while I needed to get on top of it, but once we found out we were expecing another little one, I had even more motivation to corral the clothes. We pulled the bins out of the Piper's closet and set them up in the guest room/future nursery...and then...we waited. I figured we needed to know the gender of the next baby before we bothered to organize things. We've tried to keep things as gender neutral as possible, but in glancing through the piles, it seems we've taken a turn for the girlie. If we were having a boy this time, there were going to be a lot of things taken out of the rotation. Fortunately for our storage space (and wallets) we found out we're having a girl!

So the next free night we had, I set up Mt. Onesie in the living room, turned on The Bachelor and went to work. A scant two hours later, we had turned this hot mess:

Into this stack of beauty:

It just makes your heart happy, doesn't it?

I made piles for each 3 month increment, and organized all the items by type (short sleeve, long sleeve, pants etc.) Once we knew how much we had in total, we planned out the space in the bins. The newborn pile stayed out to be organized in the baby's dresser (more on that later), clothes that still fit stayed in Piper's closet, and the rest of her outgrown clothes got some contained homes while they wait for their next use. 

It's not a complicated system, but I think that's why it works. Clear bins are helpful to remind what's in each, and to show how much room is available. I added some quick homemade printouts to mark each stage, with a couple extra labels for special items (With the next baby being born in the opposite season as Piper, I decided I'd rather have all the Christmas items, swimsuits etc. from the first year separate, rather than in with specific sizes). I just used tape to apply them to the inside of the bin, so we can shift as our collection changes and shifts. Easy peasy.

The three main bins fit right inside Piper's closet, which is so convenient. I keep the largest size on top, so as she grows I can either file away the most recent cast-offs, or pull out the next size as needed. (Yes, we're missing a 12 month bin...but now worries- when she's done of those we'll just rotate our labels a bit).

The additional bin lives at the top because we access it much less frequently.

And while we're at it, I wanted to take you on a tour of Piper's closet. I remember before Piper arrived being a little lost as to how I was going to keep all these things organized. Organizing tiny onesies isn't rocket science, but I was thankful whenever someone shared what worked for them. So here's our system:

 We're fortunate that this closet came with shelves and multiple hang bars. It's not exactly what I would design if I were starting from scratch, but we're taking advantage of it and making it work the best we can.
A quick lay of the land? 
Top left: dresses.
Bottom left: jackets and skirts
Top right: folded items
Bottom right: A spot for her hamper.
The "closet system" (I say that very loosely) has evolved over time. When Piper was smaller and outgrowing sizes much faster, we hung more items, and kept things separated by size with little hanging labels. Now that she's in sizes for a bit longer (or at least not spread out over so many size ranges) we haven't used them much.

I know from experience in my own closet that I'm not the best at hanging things up (ok, I might be the worst). So I new I'd want as much room for folded items as possible. So we bought a cheap organizer that hangs from the closet bar, to create cubbies for all of her tiny little duds.

This flexes a bit seasonally, as categories take up more or less space depending on the weather, but here's the current breakdown:
Top to bottom on the left: pants, long sleeve, short sleeve.
Top to bottom on the right: pj's, sweaters & cardis, hoodies.
(and for those who are curious- the paper chain hiding in the corner was a handmade gift from Meg during my first pregnancy. Each ring represents a week from 1-40, and has a bible verse of encouragement.)

The left side of the closet is mostly hidden, so we use it for bulky items that we don't access much like off-size coats (that woudl take up a whole bin on their own) and Halloween costumes. (Come on...with me you know that deserves a special spot!)

But if you can believe it...that's not all. In addition to the closet, we have some things stored in a dresser as well.

Right now it's a mix of clothes and various baby items, but as Piper grows and (someday) learns to dress herself a bit, we may change things around to give her access to more things.

Top to bottom on the left side:
cloth diapers from our early days.

I love that the top two drawers are shallow. It's prefect for little baby items that would otherwise get lost in a big drawer. I'm sure the shoes won't work like this forever, but it's nice to have them lined up neatly, vs. piled in a heap on the floor of the closet. (yes, that's my backup plan). 

Top to bottom on the right side: 
bows and accessories;
extra blankets and sheets (and some febreeze);
extra diapers, wipes and changing pad covers.

So there you have it. The ins and outs of our storage strategy for our little one. Hopefully it was helpful to someone...and if not- maybe you at least feel less alone if you ever find yourself knee deep in baby socks. And as your reward for making it through this entire post- a copy of the labels, should you find yourself wanting to sort through your own version of Mt. Onesie.

Download the labels here.

What about all you other organization gurus-  Do you have tips for storing kids clothes? Any advice as we go from one to two little wardrobes to keep track of?


  1. Those bins are a good idea! Maybe I'll make some up for my brother and sister-in-law so they can organize some in their one bedroom apartment BEFORE the baby comes!

    1. Yes! It's awesome to have them ready to go from the jump. They can always next the bins and store the labels until they're all in use. And I found that we got a lot of clothing in larger sizes that we had to save for later, so it's helpful to have a spot for all that. I'm sure you could make much fancier labels than mine, but something's better than nothing!

  2. Mt. Onesie haha!
    This post was totally awesome. I love all of your practical tips. How does Pipes already have a bin of 2 year old clothes? Where is our baby? (and by 'our' I'm referring to mine and your mom's)
    Thanks for the shout-out :) Also - Using the month hangers in the closet is genius.

    1. Thanks Meg! Don't worry...She's not even close to 2yr clothes. I just don't know how to handle myself when I see a good deal, so I've been known to pick up some stuff for the future.

  3. Your fount of wisdom just never ends! :) Going to send this link to my friends who have Mt. Onesies of their own.

  4. Awesome indeed. Now if you could just find a way to impart some of your organization skills (or even the concept!) to your little sisters...sigh...
    Great job!

    1. Trust organization game is FAR from perfect. I don't think you want them totally following in my footsteps.

  5. okay okay, how in the name of fashion have you downsized the clothing to fit 2 sizes in each bin??? I LOVE LOVE LOVE the bin system and have utilized it from the get go. I'm in great need of organization lately as I have come into quite a bit of girls clothing from 12-3T and it's all sitting in HEAPS in my chilly chilly basement.
    My labels are not so pretty, simple day-by-day calendar sheets turned over and labeled with the season or just the size (and now we've added gender labels too.
    In the kids closets we have always used the hanging shelves- Kohl's is great for those and I only buy the kind that has the hangers on top, never the ones that loop over the bar as they always rip. In fact, I use those hanging sweater/clothing things in EVERYONE's closet including our front coat closet (where it holds the kids shoes by shelf). I'm a fan!

    Thanks for the motivation to get a move on this and I love the labels! maybe I'll prettify the ones I have??

    ps we have ZERO dressers in our house. just BIG closets! Although I DO want to get a dresser or two or three or four, just haven't found what I want yet.

    1. Well...month 3 took a whole bin. And 6 months is about 3/4...somehow we dont' have much 9 month? I'm not sure how things will pan out for the bigger sizes. Sorting by season would be great- I may start that after this next kid. It might matter more after the baby stage? Seems like Pipes still wears most things year round regardless of season.
      I can't imagine the bins you have after all those kids and all those years. I'm sure I could learn a thing or two (or 70!)