My Daughter Helped Spring Clean Her Own Closet, and We Loved It

Photographer: Julia Van ArsdaleNo RestrictionsDesigner: Dina Bandman Interiors
POPSUGAR Photography | Julia Van Arsdale
POPSUGAR Photography | Julia Van Arsdale

I love Spring cleaning. I love the feeling of getting rid of things, or at least reining in my hoarder tendencies and organizing all the stuff I feel like I have to keep (like the mermaid sweatshirt I made for my daughter that she wore everyday for almost a month last Fall). To be honest, I mostly do it because I'd like to pass on some sense of "letting go" to my kids when it comes to clothes, shoes, accessories, and toys.

Organizing for our move into a new home proved how much unnecessary stuff I had accumulated. After realizing I hadn't worn that favorite pair of heels since before my daughter was born, I figured out I didn't really need to save the other four pair of heels I would also never wear again. To prevent my daughter from picking up these habits, I thought it would be a good idea to start shaping her organizational skills while she's still young. I had my daughter help me with the process of cleaning out her own closet.

To begin, I explained that every once in a while, ideally a few times a year, it's important to go through our things and see what we don't want or need, and what doesn't fit or needs to be replaced. When she asked where all the things would go, I proudly showed her my four-bag system: trash, donate/give to friends, consign, and keepsake. It was nice to have an eager audience to share what I've come to think of as one of my best purging hacks. I might be the only one on the planet who hasn't yet learned how to gauge whether something "sparks joy," but my little system has been working for me for years.

Trash items are things that have stains, tears, or rips; something well-loved but whose love ends with us. The donate or give to friends bag is to donate to a local charity or put together hand-me-downs for our friends with children who can give the items a longer life. The bag for consignment contains items that we paid a lot for or didn't get a ton of use out of and would like a little return on, so we bag them up and take them to our favorite consignment shop in hopes of making a few extra dollars or at least trade for some new clothes. The keepsake bag is for things like that sweatshirt I mentioned before, anything sentimental that will be made into a keepsake blanket at some point or something superspecial she might want to save for her own daughter someday. (Yes, I have old Christmas, Easter, and special-occasion dresses my mom saved from when I was a child that my daughter has gotten to wear, and I love it.)

Once we had the bags set up, we opened her closet and dug in. She had fun going through and finding things she hadn't worn in a while and setting them aside for kids who need new clothes, or her friend down the street who might love those sparkly shoes, and we both enjoyed finding a favorite outfit and reminiscing about an occasion she wore it. Of course, it wasn't all smooth sailing. There were moments where she got distracted or I worried my plan backfired when she held up an item of clothing and exclaimed she was so excited to find it and "look! it still fits!" In the back of my mind, I might have already pegged that one for the garbage, but I let her go through the process — even if it meant switching it from our keep pile to the pile I needed it to be in without my daughter noticing. (Sorry, kid, you'll understand someday, I hope.)

In the end, we filled all four bags and filed them each away for their next destination. We organized the remaining clothes and shoes and planned out what she now needs more of, since we got rid of some pants that were getting too short or tops that were getting too tight. She had fun, and I hope she'll remain enthusiastic about this task in the years to come. Plus, now that we've done our cleaning, it looks like what's next for us is a mother-daughter shopping trip to fill that closet back up — and I'll take all the mother-daughter time I can get while she still really enjoys it!