While you’re basking at the beach or grilling on your back deck right now, remember that schools are preparing to open in a few weeks. Tax-free week is next week (Aug. 18-24) in Connecticut.

Soon the state will be bursting with school shoppers and closets everywhere will be trying to accommodate the incoming rush of clothes. Now is the time to update and organize your children’s closets.

Kids grow up quickly and everything changes rapidly, such as the styles of clothing they like or don’t like and certainly their sizes. By following a few basic organizing steps, your children’s wardrobe can be under control in no time.

Consider installing a closet organizer. There are many types available, from professional closet services to self-installed systems. Make sure you select plenty of open shelving and cubbies to hold shirts, sweaters and other items that don’t need to be hung, as well as wall hooks and/or inside door hooks (younger children are less likely to hang up their clothes with hangers).

Purchase some canvas hanging shelves, shoe racks or floor stacking cubes if a closet system is not feasible at this time. These help contain smaller items and accessories (belts, slippers, scarves, hats, etc.).

Add a second clothing bar at a lower lever (closer to your child’s eye level). The lower bar allows you to hang clothes within your child’s reach, and it can be used for separates later on, when your child is tall enough to reach the top bar.

Be ruthless. Really go through all of your children’s clothes (with your child, if they are little older) and remove clothes, dividing them into three piles: too small, too big, and worn out/will never wear. Put away clothes that are still too big into a bin clearly marked with the size. The clothes in the too small pile should be packed up and donated or sold at a consignment shop (make sure they are clean and in-season). If you have a younger sibling that will be able to wear the clothes at some point, clean and fold them into a bin and clearly label it with the child’s size and season of clothes contained within. The worn out/will never wear pile should be discarded.

Take only what is needed. Accepting hand-me-downs from friends and relatives is a nice idea, but try not to keep them all. Keep only what your children really will wear.

Add an extra shelf above the closet rod if there’s room to store out-of-season clothes or clothes “to grow into.” If there is no room within the closet for storage, then place them in an air-tight bin in the attic/basement or another closet elsewhere in the home.

Organize clothing by activity: school clothes, play clothes, dressy clothes and sports uniforms in their own separate areas. Stack T-shirts, folded in shelves or cubbies and keep them color coded from light shirts down to dark shirts for easily coordinating outfits.

Invest in lots of matching hangers to keep the closet looking crisp. Make sure there are kid-sized hangers for the young ones. Velvet covered hangers are a good choice to keep clothes hanging for kids who tug on clothes.

Dresser or bureau drawers still work best for storing socks, underwear and pajamas.

Keep a hamper in each child’s bedroom so they can drop in clothes that need to be laundered. And keep an open bin on the floor of their closet to quickly drop in items that no longer fit.

Write the child’s name on certain school clothes, such as gym shorts or jackets that could get left in the classroom, with a fabric marker on the garment tag.

If it works, consider buying just white socks for your sons and daughters if they are at an age they can share the same size. Once every year or two, if possible, dump the sock drawer to discard and replenish with new white socks bought in bulk at a warehouse store.

Put clothes out at night. Teach your kids how to create a “flat girl or boy” with clothes they intend to wear to school the next day. Simply lay out the outfit on the floor or a chair by their closet from top to bottom: shirt, pants, belt, socks, etc.

Teach children how to do things for themselves. Show your child how to hang and fold clothes at a young age. Organizing is a process that should be developed to make things easier and more functional for children throughout their lifetime, as well as providing a more streamlined home for the family in the meantime.

Connecticut Media Group