How To Organize Kids’ Winter Gear Quickly and Easily

posted by Andrea | 10/24/2019

how to organize kids' winter gear

I realize October is potentially a bit early to consider how to organize kids’ winter gear. But the truth is, here in Michigan, our winter gear has already been in use for the past few weeks! 

Thankfully, we haven’t needed snow pants just yet, but early morning temperatures in the low 30’s mean winter coats, hats, and gloves for sure. The snow will be here soon enough!

I suppose I’m ahead of the game this year, sharing my top tips to quickly and easily organize kids’ winter gear!  I’m also sharing one extremely simple change that made our mudroom so much more functional for our entire family!

children dressed in winter gear

NOTE: I very rarely “fight” my kids about their clothing….

I explain the daily forecast to them and tell them what the temperature is predicted to be. They are responsible to pick out their clothing the night before.

Simon was in a funk last week and absolutely refused to wear pants. He said he didn’t care if he was cold and that he would wear his coat and gloves, but he was going to wear shorts too. So off to school he went in shorts… and a big huge smile! Meanwhile Nora was dressed for a fall blizzard. 🙂

Our silly Simon in shorts aside, here are 3 tips that help us organize kids’ winter gear! 

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how to organize kids' winter gear

TIP #1 = Hooks, Hooks, and More Hooks! 

Our kids don’t love using hangers — especially not when they are excitedly bursting through the back door. They WILL, however, use hooks, so we have lots and lots of hooks in our mudroom

coat hooks to organize winter gear

The kids each have one designated hook that is at their height. They can (and do) quickly and easily hang their coat, backpack, sweatshirt, hat, etc.

coat hooks to organize winter gear

We also have many other hooks for adult coats, snow pants, wet clothing, guest’s jackets, etc. 

more coat hooks and benches

There are times when all these hooks allow our mudroom to LOOK somewhat messy, cluttered, and disorganized.BUT the hooks are practical, and they are the best and easiest way I have found to organize kids’ winter gear (and their all-year-round gear too!)  

messy coat hooks

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TIP #2 = Benches (preferably with storage!) 

Our mudroom is not overly large, but we have 3 different benches that all serve multiple purposes in our room.

They are (obviously) available to sit on when putting on boots or snow pants. They also provide valuable storage all year round, and they offer a practical off-the-floor option for setting things that need to go out to the car (bags, luggage, donations, etc.)

3 backpacks sitting on a bench

Two of the benches in our mudroom have ample storage! 

We use the huge bench below (built by my uncle) for storing off-season items (it has swimming and beach items in it now). This allows us more room in our closet for the current influx of snow pants, coats, gloves, etc. 

mudroom storage bench

We use another bench to store shoes and smaller kids’ boots so they aren’t all over the rug. 

Speaking of rugs — we put an extra rug in the mudroom during snowy winter months. This helps to absorb the melting snow so we don’t have puddles on the floor. 

mudroom storage bench

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TIP #3 = Over-the-door Shoe Organizers

Over-the-door shoe organizers are one of my most favorite organizing tools ever — especially to organize kids’ winter gear! We have them in almost every room in our house — none of them actually have shoes inside though! 

NOTE: this is the shoe organizer we use most often.

I specifically designed our mudroom to accommodate a French door closet so we could hang over-the-door shoe organizers on the back of each door.  

over-the-door shoe organizers for kids winter gear

over-the-door shoe organizers for kids winter gear

We use the mini pockets to organize SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS — hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, umbrellas, small bags, sunscreen, bug spray, wet-wipes, sunglasses, keys, flashlights, etc. etc. 

These shoe organizers make it convenient to quickly reach inside, grab what we need, and shove things back inside when we’re finished. 

Again, it’s not the most beautiful system, but it works SO well for us (you could easily hang one of these organizers on a wall if you don’t have French doors).

One Extremely Simple Swap I Made To Better-Organize Our Kid’s Winter Gear

We’ve been organizing our kids’ winter gear this way for years and years. But as I mentioned above, this year I made one very small, very simple tweak to our system that had a dramatic effect on how well our children are able to utilize the system. 

Now that Clara is old enough to use our system, we have even more gear to organize, and our old over-the-door system wasn’t working quite as well… so I made a change. 

Can you see the difference in the photos below? 

before and after photos of winter gear

Both pictures contain exactly the same items… I didn’t purge anything. I didn’t really even store them more neatly. 

The difference is simply HOW I arranged each of the cubbies. 

Previously, I alotted each child one COLUMN for their things. The face masks on the top, hats and ear warmers below, then thick gloves, and finally thin gloves at the bottom. 

However, James’ couldn’t reach his own face masks, hats, or ear warmers. Clara couldn’t reach anything other than her thin gloves. 

Since the younger kids were not able to get their own gear out OR put it away again, it meant Dave and I were constantly picking up and putting away their hats, face masks, etc. 

messy mudroom

Not ideal — but I figured it would stop eventually once they got older and taller. 

However, as I organized everything into the proper cubbies earlier this fall, I realized that I could just switch how I arrange the cubbies. Now instead of using one column per person, I use one ROW per person. 

This is now how we organize kids’ winter gear… 

It took me roughly 5 minutes to make the switch. Now everyone can reach (and put away) their own things!

Our mudroom is neater and more organized, Dave and I have fewer messes to pick up, and our children are able to do more independently (here’s a huge list of tasks our kids already do on their own)! 

Such a quick and easy switch!!!! 

I know you don’t all have mudrooms or even the space to hang a shoe organizer… yet I would encourage you to look for ways you can implement hooks, benches, and over-the-door shoe organizers in your own home.

Also, always be on the “lookout” for organizational systems that aren’t working as well as they could be right now — you never know when a super quick fix might be just what you need! 

What are YOUR tips to organize kids’ winter gear?

how to organize kids' winter gear

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20 comments

  1. Jennifer

    10/25/2019

    We have overdoor hooks for backpacks (mine and our sons) and I was just wondering this morning how to store his hat and mittens. We are in Texas so that’s really the most he needs here! I might add a pocket organizer under the hooks, I think it would fit perfectly and accommodate other small stuff we frequently need really well.

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    Jennifer Reply:

    Annnnd I just realized that this would be perfect to hang in our pantry for dog stuff! Woohoo! I can get rid of the kind-of-in-my-way shelf!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes — definitely. There are SO many uses for this organizational tool!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good idea! You can always cut one row off the bottom if it hangs down too far — I’ve done this before and no one could tell!

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  2. Julia

    10/25/2019

    How do you keep your kids from losing their mittens and hats and face masks? Do you have a system for labelling it all? I feel like I spend a fortune each season replacing these items.

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    Andrea Reply:

    well, first of all, we buy most of our items used (for $1 each at thrift stores) So IF they lose anything, I don’t care all that much. That said, the kids have been really good (so far) about bringing all there things home from school. We’ll see if this continues through the years or not!

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  3. Mary

    10/24/2019

    We have the indoor/outdoor digital weather stations made in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. They have a version with a digital pic of kids dressed for the weather, depending on the temp. I always thought it would be a fun thing for kids to refer to so they might start to look at the temp and understand what it meant.

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    Andrea Reply:

    that is awesome! I’ll have to look into it! I’m sure our kids would think it’s super cool too!

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    Linda Bolt Reply:

    I made a chart like that when our kids were young, and posted it near the back door, with outdoor thermometer in view. This ended any whining or battles over what to wear outside, and took the focus off me as the enforcer. My kids liked knowing what to wear when.

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks — I need to look into this. It’s such a fun idea!

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  4. Carla

    10/24/2019

    I read this years ago in a magazine and have implemented it… take a bar (long) towel rack and hang it on the ceiling centered above your bathtub. This becomes a place to hang wet coats, snowsuits, etc… It also works to hang clothes that need drip-drying. This is particularly helpful for people who do not have a dedicated mud-room.

    Speaking of drip-drying, could you explain what your heavy mittens are drip-drying on? That’s what I struggle with. I have a place for things when they are dry… but it’s the where to put them (hats, scarves, face-masks, mittens, gloves, etc…) while they dry.

    One other thought… I love that Simon is expressing his individuality and I love how you honor him. If long pants continue to be an issue, you might consider, especially with your experience with Nora’s sensory sensitivity, that for some reason his pants are not comfortable and he can’t express it. I knew a little boy who threw a tantrum every time he had to put his socks on. Turns out he was very sensitive to the seam at the toes of the socks and they had to be perfectly aligned for him to be able to tolerate wearing them. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for these tips Carla!
    As for Simon, he’s just CRAZY STUBBORN right now! He has no sensory issues and loves wearing pants. He just had a week where he randomly refused pants — he’s “back to normal” now 🙂

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    Carla Reply:

    Here in Colorado it’s not uncommon to see young people in shorts and no coats in snow and cold. I don’t know how they do it! 🙂

    I think my question might have gotten buried in my first response…
    “Speaking of drip-drying, could you explain what your heavy mittens are drip-drying on? That’s what I struggle with. I have a place for things when they are dry… but it’s the where to put them (hats, scarves, face-masks, mittens, gloves, etc…) while they dry.”

    Thanks!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, the heavy mittens — they are on shishkabob skews over our floor-grate heater 🙂

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  5. Ashley

    10/24/2019

    We’re planning to switch our bifold doors to “French doors” (modifying the existing doors) so I can do exactly this! I’m so excited to not have to dig through a basket of hats and gloves shared by everyone, and that the kids will be able to get their own things out. Never would have thought of this if not for you! I too would love to know how you actually hang the organizers.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay — you will LOVE the French doors over bi-fold doors!

    To hang our organizers, we just screwed screws into the door to match up with the 3 holes in the shoe organizer (the holes where the “over-the-door” part connects). It took 5 minutes and now we don’t need to have the clips over the door

    We do have solid wood doors — but I’ve done this before with hollow-core doors too!

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  6. Kari

    10/24/2019

    Can you tell me how you hang the over-the-door organizers? I’ve always noticed in your pictures that it never looks like you use the over-the-door hangers. I’m thinking about utilizing this idea for our hat/glove storage this year.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we just screwed screws into the door to match up with the 3 holes in the shoe organizer (the holes where the “over-the-door” part connects). It took 5 minutes and now we don’t need to have the clips over the door 🙂

    We do have solid wood doors — but I’ve done this before with hollow-core doors too!

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  7. Margaret

    10/24/2019

    I really respect the way you let your kids figure life out for themselves. Maybe it’s worth it to James to be cold; maybe he’ll make a different choice next time. I’m also sure that there’s a -50F windchill (safety rather than comfort, an analysis he’s not mature enough to make) he’lll be wearing snowpants over his shorts.
    Good parenting call, IMHO.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, if it were blowing and snowing, he would not be going out in shorts — but on a 50º day, I’m OK if he’s a little cold 🙂

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