Now that our youngest has started Primary, I’m responsible for getting two people up, washed, brushed, combed, dressed, fed and out the door by 7:20 a.m. Oh, while also making two lunches, preparing two breakfasts, packing two backpacks and steeping a huge travel mug of tea to sustain me at the bus stop.
For the past two years, I’ve laid out our son’s school outfit the night before — just tossing the shirt, pants, undies and socks onto a spot on his carpet for him to put on in the morning. At seven, he still has absolutely no interest in picking out his own clothes — which I love because that means I get to choose what he wears. #victory
But with our daughter starting school, too, I realized I’d be spending twice as long picking out outfits every evening. It would be faster to pick everything out for the week at once, and I’d also know whether or not I had any urgent laundry to do.
I thought about making cute hanger tags with the days of the week, but our daughter can’t reach her hanging bar — and our son’s is only a towel rod, thanks to his neat closet makeover.
I needed something the kids could easily reach and wouldn’t take up much space in their rooms. So the solution would be to build some sort of tower with hooks — like a hat rack, almost — that could hold numerous hangers without tipping over.
I started with a stand for our son’s clothing, and screwed a simple base (two short 2×2” pieces) onto a long 2×2” board. It wasn’t the steadiest thing, but it would work. But how were the clothes going to hang on it?
I raided my hardware bin and discovered I had two or three coordinating hooks and knobs in various finishes, but not five that matched. I was home alone with two sleeping kids, so I couldn’t run out to buy more — and, naturally, I wanted to build it immediately.
I looked around my studio slowly, trying to think of what I could use as hooks. Plain screws? Nah. What about L-brackets? No. Small pieces of wood? My eyes fell on a bin on scrap wood — organized by size, of course — and I saw a bunch of plain wooden pieces from a knock-off Jenga game. Those could work!
I predrilled a hole in each stick, and screwed them into the front of the 2×2” post — going back and forth from the right to the left to maintain the balance.
I painted the whole thing dark grey (“Ash” by Fusion Mineral Paint) and added distressed red letters spelling out “DEX” to the top. Then I turned my attention to building one for our daughter.
I decided to experiment with a different base, so this time I screwed a 1×2” post into a scrap of 1×6” wood — putting the post at the back to balance out the weight of the clothes that would hang off the front. Then I cut 45° angles on both ends of a smaller piece, and screwed that in front of the post for more stability. This was definitely a better base.
I used more Jenga pieces as hooks, but I attached them differently — pointing to the front and back, rather than side-to-side like the first set of hooks. This was because our daughter would require multiple hangers for some outfits, like skirts with a top and a cardigan.
I painted our daughter’s clothing tree a soft pink (a mix of mostly “Buttermilk Cream” by Fusion Mineral Paint, with a bit of “Fort York Red” poured in) and added a sparkly “C” to the top for a decoration. The final step was painting the front of each hook grey (the same paint I used on her brother’s stand) and taking a tiny paintbrush to hand-letter the days of the week.
Instead of just having a hook for Monday through Friday, our daughter’s stand includes a spot for her taekwondo dobok and ballet leotard, as well as one weekend outfit (mostly because I wanted to balance the hooks on each side).
Because the hooks are staggered (front and back, left and right) there’s room for a week’s worth of hangers without getting things tangled up. When you start filling the hooks from the bottom and work your way up to Monday, it means you don’t have to rifle through layers to find what you need. Remove Monday’s outfit, and Tuesday’s is right there on top.
Our kids LOVE their new clothing trees, and had me filling them up before the school year even began. (“Uh, it’s summer — throw on any shorts and any T-shirt.”)
These outfit-organizers been super useful since school has started, when we’re all rushing around and everyone’s sleepy. I tuck underwear and socks (or tights) into each outfit when I “fill the tree” Sunday evening, so the kids just grab that day’s hanger and have everything they need.
Fingers crossed this system keeps working for at least a couple of years, because I must admit I love picking out their outfits — and I know that can’t last forever!