If your kids play sports, then you know how much gear goes along with it. There is a variety of items needed for each sport; clothing, pads, helmets, gloves, balls and more! If you have more than one child and they play more than one sport, you may feel inundated with equipment. Most of us have experienced getting to the field or gym and discovering that an essential piece of equipment is missing. Organization is the key to avoiding that rushed trip back home and back before the big game starts.
Here are six things you can do to organize your children’s sports equipment.
1. Bag it!
Have an equipment bag for each sport. My brother recently told me how frustrating it is to take his three kids skiing. Inevitably, someone will forget their hat or gloves or goggles. He is constantly buying replacement items at a considerable cost.
I suggested this:
- Get a clear bag for each child
- In permanent marker, write the child’s name on the bag or write it on a piece of tape and place it on the bag.
- Attach a list of items needed on the bag (for example, gloves, socks, googles, hat, etc.).
- Do a check of each bag before you leave the house (and before you leave to go home) to make sure all the contents are there.
- At some point, train your kids to inventory their own equipment (though, you’ll probably still need to double check until they’re about 30). 😊
- Do this for each sport your child plays.
If the equipment for your child’s sport requires a bigger bag, do the same with a note card on the side (on in the pocket) with the list of required contents. Have a bag for each sport and each child. Make sure the bags are packed with the necessary contents ahead of time. Keep the bags in your sports zone (see below).
2. Zone it!
Create a sports zone within your house or garage for storage of sports gear. It is best to put all sports equipment in a central location. Typically this would be the garage, mudroom, entry or hall closet. The location that is closest to the door your family uses the most. Having one place where everything goes will avoid the last-minute running around the house trying to find an item when you’re late for the big game!
3. Contain it!
Now you’ve got a bunch of bags, you need to have a place to put all of them. If you have the space, install cubbies or shelves and hooks to hold all the bags and gear. Label any shelves or cubbies with the child’s name (and the sport if you’re separating them). You can use baskets or containers to keep everything organized on the shelves or in the cubbies. Kids are used to putting things away in a locker at school, so try to bring that same concept into your home.
4. Hang it!
Use sports storage racks, pegboards or hooks to hang items in the garage or mudroom. There are a lot of custom options out there for just about every type of sports equipment. You can even hang your golf bag, too!
Here are some options:
- A pegboard with hooks for bats, rackets, etc.
- A mesh bag, ball claws, or even a laundry bag for balls
- Hooks or a wire basket for gloves
- Hanging baskets for small equipment
- Hooks or shelves for helmets
- Shoe racks or shelves for footwear
- Or, go big with a customized sports storage wall solution
5. Clean it!
Have a laundry basket in the space where the sports equipment lives. Get your kids in the habit of removing their jersey and socks as they come in the door and throwing it in the basket. If your kids are older they will probably want to change in their room. If so, you may want to set a reminder in their phone (or yours) for a couple of days before a game to make sure their uniform is clean. Also, to have them make sure they have the equipment they need for the upcoming game.
6. Switch it out!
Put away and store off-season sports equipment. This is especially important if you don’t have a ton of space. At the end of each sports season, pack up the equipment and store it in plastic bins until next year. I recommend air-tight bins. If you rotate your seasonal sports equipment, you won’t end up tripping over baseball bats in the middle of winter. The end of the season is also a good time to do an equipment check and see if anything needs to be replaced for next year. If you have the space, it’s always a better deal to buy at the end of the season. But, if you’re not sure what sports your child will be interested in next year, then it may be better to wait. Make a list of items that need replacing and put it in the bin with the related equipment. That way you’ll know what you need when you pull it out next year. If next year comes around and your kid would rather do ballet than play baseball, then donate it or sell it at a local sports exchange.
Organizing your children’s sports equipment will help both you and your kids keep your head in the game.
By Sarah Buckwalter
Certified Professional Organizer®
Sarah Buckwalter is a Certified Professional Organizer® with over 18 years of experience in home, move and office organization. She is the founder of Organizing Boston. Organizing Boston is the largest professional organizing firm in New England and was awarded Best of Boston Home™, Best Professional Organizer.
Nationally recognized as an organizing industry expert, Sarah shares her expertise through speaking, writing and on television. She is a regular guest blogger for nationwide companies and has appeared several times on the hit series, “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC.