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The Benefits of Organizing Your Clothes In Middle School

“I have nothing to  weeeaaaarrrrr,” my 12-year-old daughter yelled from her bedroom.

If I could pick one word to describe the middle school years, it would be MORE. There’s more homework, activities, responsibility and—ooh, look what came today—more party invitations! Yup, middle school brings a lot more of everything.

Fasten your seat belt because things can get complicated and overwhelming. The best way to cope with this new life is to make sure that the home environment is calm and in order.

How do you do this? Renée Rosenzweig and Nancy Duckman of Toronto‘s Rose and Duck Professional Organizers have some ideas.

Keeping school supplies organized and having an orderly place to do homework is crucial for academic success in middle school. However, there is another area that needs attention: Your child’s wardrobe.

Let’s get back to the scene of my daughter yelling that she has nothing to wear. This time, I was the one rolling my eyes. I knew very well that her closet was stuffed to the brim with clothes.

There was definitely something to wear. She just had to find it.

What to wear to school or a party is an ongoing struggle in a middle schooler’s life. In search of the perfect outfit, a middle schooler will try on the full closet of clothes, flinging the rejects all over the room. But who is going to clean up that cyclone? Most parents have already heard the familiar phrase: “Why should I pick up my clothes off of the floor?”

Rosenzweig explains that you need to respect your child through their creative process. Which means letting them do what they need to do to find that ensemble. But, you can also give them a time frame to clean it all up.

Explain to your teen that a scattered and cluttered room leads to their mind becoming scattered and cluttered too. That simple act of getting dressed in the morning is suddenly complicated, especially when sweatpants are hanging from the ceiling fan.

How to Make Finding Something to Wear Easy:

Remember, calm and order is the goal.

1. Take everything out

Helping your kid get their room in order doesn’t have to be a difficult job. Refolding the clothes and putting everything back is a huge waste of time, according to Rosenzweig. The best way to organize a closet is to take everything out and help your teen decide what to keep and what to toss.

2. Grouping is key

Group similar things together. Duckman explains that all T-shirts, sweaters, pants and pajamas should all have their own space or “home.” Therefore, when your teen wants to wear pants, all they have to do is reach for the pants pile and take their pick.

3. Help your kid, but don’t do it for them

You can help your teen with cleaning and organizing projects, but you shouldn’t be the one to do all the work. Being a part of the process will help your teen develop a sense of ownership and control. Empower them by letting them choose where to place their stuff.

4. Organization saves time

Once your child’s wardrobe is organized, you both will save loads of time. “Where are my jeans with the purple unicorn?” will no longer be hollered from their bedroom because they will be in the pants pile.

“You will be amazed at what you already own and what you don’t need,” Duckman says. Which resolves the statement that even adults are guilty of, “I have nothing to wear!”

Putting their tips to work with clients has helped Duckman and Rosenzweig in their personal lives, encouraging them to spend less. “We all have way too much stuff,” Duckman admits.

Last Sunday morning, my daughter and I made two cups of hot cocoa and then sat on her bedroom floor. We opened her closet and gazed at all of the clothes. “Let’s make your closet look really pretty and organized.” I suggested. She nodded with approval.

Before we got to work, we chatted about what she did and didn’t like to wear anymore. Finishing our cocoa, we started organizing by making three piles of clothes: To give away, to sell, and to keep. Hours later, the final result was impressive.

“It looks like a store!” My daughter squealed with delight.

“We should have taken before and after pictures,” I said.

I stood back and really admired the work that we had done together. We also had some great bonding time, too. Best of all, the skills I’m helping instill in my daughter will carry her through from now until she cleans out her closet for the last time and moves on to her own home—where I hope she’ll have a cup of hot cocoa waiting for me when I visit!

Sharon Neiss Arbess lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and three children. She is an author and creator of Brave The Waves – A Program for Building Resiliency for middle school children.

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