Organizing Your Kids’ Winter Gear
Stop the avalanche of cold-weather gear with our expert tips.
Two matching gloves and a hat that fits. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for, does it?
The reality is this: the kids are in and out and dumping and scattering their gear when they enter the house. So that simple request often becomes a lofty goal for busy, and sometimes frazzled, parents of young children. To help keep our mudrooms (or whatever space that’s been pressed into service) sorted and manageable, three area professional organizers who are also parents of young children shared their best tips for busy families.
Meredith Gross-Holstein of Clothing Racks to Dresser Drawers, a self-described “Monica” from Friends, has made good organization a lifelong habit.
“I practice what I preach because if I don’t, I can’t help anybody else,” she said.
To keep track of easily misplaced gloves and hats, she recommends each child have his own storage drawer or basket just inside the main entry door, whether in a mudroom or not, where, upon entering, he will place his items immediately, before doing anything else.
She said it takes some time for children to develop the habit, but it is worth the effort.
And to make sure items placed inside the drawers are the correct sizes. Keeping these items sorted also makes donating or consigning the unneeded items that much easier, Gross-Holstein said.
Her final tip? Keep a basket by the entry door specifically for wet items. Soggy gloves, hats, and coats can go directly in the basket and be transported easily to the dryer — without creating a slippery trail to the laundry room.
Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork Organizing said it’s most important to first have a plan for organizing your entry space. Figure out the space’s purpose, then stick to that, rather than having the mudroom become a catch-all for random items, she said.
Also, create the necessary organization with cubbies or storage benches so that each member of the family can use it.
“You need to make sure you change the space as the family changes,” she said.
Even if your “mudroom” is less than three feet of space in your kitchen — as DeMorrow’s is — you can still have a row of hooks at a child-appropriate level, a couple baskets for gear, and a tray for boots, she says.
As for gloves and hats, she recommends keeping only the one pair or item the child wears regularly within reach. She stashes extras elsewhere so they don’t get misused.
“There’s a definite balance between having enough and having too much out,” she said.
DeMorrow describes herself as “that mom” who stands, arms crossed, at the entryway waiting for her kids to sort their items into their proper places before moving on to any other activity.
“Stuff builds up (by the door), but if you make the time and make it a habit and everyone pitches in, it can take only 5 minutes a day to stay organized,” she said. “Since 2 years old, my kids have been able to get their coats and shoes in the correct general space.”
Annie Kilbride of Life Simplified loves to tackle the organizational challenge older homes without huge closets present.
“Use as much vertical space as possible,” she said.
She looks for wall space behind doors for hooks, or even uses backs of doors to hang coats and backpacks. Also, using the area under furniture to store items in an appropriate box can help solve the problem of very little space. Storage ottomans can double for seating and winter gear collection.
Kilbride says to keep only the pairs of shoes you absolutely need by the door, providing more space for a hat and glove basket.
Photograph by Emily Miller.