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Store and order: Conquer the children’s clobber challenge

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Here are some ways to make sure you and your child can work as a team to ensure they always have what they need:

It seems that when parents aren’t driving their kids to sports practices and games, they’re organising all the equipment that accompanies their kids to those activities.

Keeping track of all the uniforms and equipment for multiple sports – and often multiple children – is a challenge, especially because items are constantly coming and going, need to be cleaned and are often transported to events in different cars, where they can be left behind accidentally.

Label everything

Every piece of equipment and part of a uniform should be labelled. Not only so your child can distinguish it from teammates’ belongings, but also so parents can distinguish one child’s soccer shorts or helmet from their other children’s equipment. Labelling also makes it easier to put items away when there is more than one person in the house doing laundry. Sometimes this just requires using a laundry marker to write a name on a jersey or pair of shorts, but personalised labels are also great for sports bags, water bottles and the inside of shoes.

Accessible location

Perhaps the most important organising decision you’ll make in terms of organising sports equipment is where you’ll store it all. Where you and your children usually enter the house makes the most sense, but if there are no options near your front door (the hall cupboard can’t accommodate coats, shoes and sports equipment), think about other options.

The garage is a fine place for balls, sticks, pads and other large (and sometimes smelly) items that are brought home in between practices and games. A mudroom or a side hallway with hooks also works. Just make sure your kids know the floor near the front door is not an appropriate drop-zone.

A bag or bin for each sport

As with all organising tasks, it’s vital to have a specific place where items belong so everyone in the family knows where to put them. An easy way to do this is to assign each child a designated bag for each sport. If you use bags, they don’t have to be fancy name-brand sports bags; a small pull-string bag will do.

If you’re using bins, it’s better to use something that can be easily wiped clean instead of a basket or fabric bin. Label the bags or bins clearly.

It also may be worth designating a particular laundry bin for sports clothing so uniform components don’t get lost or separated in other dirty clothes piles. One client has a labelled bin in her son’s cupbaord specifically for sports uniforms. This way those items are easy to find before a game, and her son knows not to wear those clothes to practices during the week.

Storage solutions

Regardless of where you’re storing sports equipment, the goal should be to get everything off the floor and in a place where it’s easy to put away. If your storage solutions aren’t easy or conveniently located, you’re starting at a disadvantage.

An easy solution for soccer balls, basketballs, footballs and volleyballs is a wire bin that makes it easy to see what’s inside and can accommodate a lot of balls. Another option is a rectangular divided bin to hold items such as rackets, sticks and bats.

And vertical wall space is your friend for storing almost all other types of equipment. Hooks or a pegboard with hooks are helpful for helmets, tennis rackets and golf bags. Bikes can be hung on hooks either vertically or horizontally, depending on your available space.

When you’re shopping for storage solutions, be strategic. Don’t pick random products before you know where you plan to put them. And even though everyone is tired after a practice or game, try to get your kids into a routine of putting their equipment in the proper spots every time.

After each season, cull everything and pass along outgrown equipment to family, friends or a charity.

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