Color Coded Children

In a large household, there is a need to keep things as simple and organized as possible.  One of the things we do to keep life running smoothly is to color code our children.

It actually started as a way to keep track of cups.  I got so tired of washing 90 million cups a day simply because no one knew which cup was theirs.  I decided if they each had a color, I would cut out at least one job on my to-do list.

From there, they got color coded for their school and chore lists.  Beyond that, we try to color code as much as possible because it makes life so much easier.  Here is a list of just a few of the things we have color coded by child in our household:

*van blankets: (we have 4 different colors of fleece blankets – courtesy of Ty’s mom.  Each of the older kids has a c0lor all their own)  They are not in the colors we use for their cups and school work, but they are all different so each child knows which is theirs.

*socks: one of the best inventions was when sock manufacturers decided to put distinguishing colors on each different size of sock!  A mother’s dream come true!  However, the color coding seems to be limited to girls socks.  I would love it if they would do the same for the boys!  For now, I just try to buy different brands so they look different.

*Flip-flops: Around here they are called “flippies” and whenever possible, I try to match to their color.  Since flippies wear out rather quickly, I don’t worry about handing down the “wrong” color.

*Anything that needs their name written on it. This is especially helpful for those who can’t read (Although my boys have a 50% chance of being color blind since my dad was.  So far, they all seem to see color just fine)  I can write their name on something in their color and they know that particular item is theirs.

I know some people who color code their children’s bath towels.  Others color code their children’s plates.  Some even go so far as to color code their children’s entire wardrobe.  So, what do you color code?

This post is linked to:
Works for Me Wednesday
Real Clean Wednesday

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55 thoughts on “Color Coded Children

  1. I definitely remember my brothers getting the same presents all the time, one blue and one green. I was the only girl so I got all the girly colors or red or yellow if I got the same thing too.
    My triplet cousins were always in color coded clothes so my aunt could tell them apart!
    I only have 1baby so far though so no color coding necessary yet!
    .-= Maman A Droit´s last blog ..No, Thank You! =-.

  2. I’ve color-coded their schoolwork folders – with 9 children that can be a challenge to find that many different colors, but it’s worked. I’ve done towels, cups, and even socks. I’ve gotten away from it for a while and should get back to it to simplify things!
    .-= Kimarie´s last blog ..Hello! I’m still here… =-.

  3. I do this too. Makes life soooo much easier and it’s so simple. We do notebooks for school work or papers, backpacks, blankets, and many other things too. I hadn’t thought of cups but I’m goint to invest in some soon. UH the madness of cup washing!!! I have found boy socks that have the different color sizes on the bottom. Champion from Target. Boys large is red and med. is orange. So nice.

  4. I love color-coding! Something we’ve found that really helps with color-coding in the kitchen is not just cups, but entire dish sets. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the “Kalas” dishes from IKEA. A set of utensils or cups or bowls or plates is only $1.99 and you get 6 different colors so an entire dish set in 6 different colors is less than $20!

    I hadn’t thought of color-coding toothbrushes before; I’m going to have to try that one!

  5. Wonderful! We have four, and the little one was born to an assigned color (pink!). We have color coded binders, marbles (for incentives!), bath towels, swim towels, toothbrushes, plates, backpacks…if it is made in four colors, they are assigned! The size of laundry basket I needed only came in white, but that’s what permanent markers are for (they had fun with that one).

  6. This isn’t color coding, but along the same lines. My friend taught me to put one dot on the tag or inside hem of shirts, pants, underwear and on the bottom of the toes of socks. You do this for the oldest boy and girl. When they outgrow the clothes, add another dot before putting it away or handing it down to the next kid. That way the second boy’s clothes are easy to tell apart from the first’s. Add a dot for each child of that gender, so the fourth girl has four dots and the third boy has three dots. This way, any one can sort laundry and get it to the right person.

    • I do this -exept instead of dots I make a line- with my girls (I have four girls) so my oldest gets 1 line and so forth It works awesome since 2 of my girls usually run the same sizes, especially for underwear and socks.

  7. When I was in the states last Christmas we stocked up on Hanes boys sports socks. They are now color coded by size. My eldest’s socks have blue writing on the toes and the younger one has green writing. I thought this was soooo clever. So, check out Hanes socks!

  8. Brand new reader. This isn’t in response to your most recent post but to your little Emily’s story. I couldn’t read something like that without telling you how it affected me. As I read, I sobbed. A momma to three here and oh how it hurt to hear your pain. I am sure you are healing a little more everday and knowing she is with Jesus and waiting for you… Still, I will pray for you today that God will continue to comfort you and cosole you – assuring you that He has her cradled in His everlasting arms and will embrace you too one day in those same arms with her! What a sweet reunion to look forward to.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..GNITNERAP – Parenting Backwards! =-.

  9. I color code the water bottles, beach towels, socks, sometimes their crocs if we can successfully find everyone’s color. I also color code their specific events/activities/classes on the calendar. My mil had recommended it to me years ago (she had 3 boys too) and it has been a time and frustration saver.
    .-= Elle´s last blog ..Whoa, Nellie…. =-.

  10. What a brilliant idea! My kids are still young (2 and 11 months) but I can tell how the oldest certainly has a preference for the same color cups/plates/etc every time. Might just become her “color”!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Earrings Giveaway! =-.

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  12. With 7 kids, we color code almost everything also-toothbrushes, cups, waterbottles, folders, towels, etc. We’ve even color coded their shoe storage boxes-with a strip of duct tape. We keep a roll of duct tape in each child’s color. Since there are so many colors, it makes it easy. Once I got past the first 4 colors, I did find it hard with the school stuff but ended up buying the 3 ring binders that you can put a label/paper in and, of course, the label is color coded. I also have highlighters in each of their colors for assignment sheet and booklist checkoffs.

  13. I love this post! So far, we have two girls and all of their “hanging clothes” are on color coded hangers. The youngest is only 2 months old, so we haven’t gotten to cups and plates yet, but I definitely agree that color coding makes things so much easier!
    .-= Amy R´s last blog ..Shopping with Two Under Two =-.

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  15. I’m late to the party. I have no kids yet, but was thinking of your socks issue. My mom only had two girls and we’re 3.5 years apart. My feet are small, Sis’s are big. We wore the same size socks for years. My mom sewed a little green (my favorite color) in the toe–where it wasn’t seen–so we knew whose were whose. Instead of sewing, you could do a little dot with a marker in the kids’ colors–Sharpie makes all kinds of colors now.

  16. I only have 2 boys and I have always color coded them, too. One is always green and the other blue. Those were their favorite colors and it turned out that it’s easy to find cups, blankets, etc in those colors, often even in a two pack of something. It has simplified things in amazing ways!

  17. When my husband and I went from a single 3.5 year old girl to adding a 20 month and 3.9 year old boys, I was DESPERATE. Meal times were awful, folding clothes was drudgery, I was SINKING. I spent one night in the “baby care aisle” at the local grocery store and stumbled upon the solution, COLOR CODING! Playtex had blue plates with cars, green plates with dinosaurs, and pink plates with flowers. (they also had matching sippy cups). I ran with it! From then on my daughter became Pink, her modified twin became Blue, and the little Monkey because Green, except when I can only find it in another color. My friends laugh, but I swear by it! Now I know who still needs to clear their space at the table, who left a sippy cup laying in the living room, etc.
    As for the socks, since we thrive on hand-me-downs, I buy all white socks (especially for the boys) and write the SIZE of the sock on the bottom. They know what size they currently are, and it makes it much easier for me while sorting and putting away for the little guy.

  18. Growing up my 3 brothers were all the same size . My mother would mark the bottom of their socks with a dot of fabric paint on the foot. Each brother had a certain color so they would know which socks were theirs. I imagine this would make it faster to sort socks as well.

  19. I thought I was the only one who did this! we color-code cups, sheets and blankets, towels, socks, winter hats and jackets (although sometimes they get passed down…), headphones, pillowcases, waterbottles, backpacks, shoes (sometimes this doesn’t happen), binders and toothbrushes.

  20. Instead of colors, we use shapes! Our 4 year old loves it! Anything he uses gets his simple smiley face instead of his name (ie. cups, school books, coloring books, solo cups at picnics, etc.). I wish we would have started it earlier with our older children, but at least now the younger ones will be set up! Lol.

  21. Excellent! i’d even expand to their school binders & organization stuff, their toothbrushes, love the towel idea.. what about sheets & pillowcases too! :)

    oh, and for socks… i just get all the same brand for everyone (i have littles now – 4 & under, girls & boys), and then use colored sharpie to make a dot or x on the bottom of the sock color coding for each size! works quite well. i even have a different mesh bag for each kid (size… two are in one size, one is in another)… i put the dirties in the bag, zip to wash, then dump in the drawer. i don’t ever match socks because they’re all the same anyway! :) hope i can still do this when my littles are bigs! :)

  22. Color codes have worked well for us too. Since several or our kids share the same initials, initialing was out. We have color coded socks, towels, and water bottles.

  23. I just started writing the shoe sizes on socks to tell them apart. that way there are no names when handed down. I like the idea of colors but I have yet to see them even in the girls socks.

    • you can still color code for socks, I would just use a permanent marker and put a big dot in their color on the bottom of the socks. my kids all have a different first initial, so we sometimes use that instead of the colors. the only problem with that so far is one of the kids starts with an “M” and they don’t know if it belongs to him, or to Mom!!

  24. I don’t use color-coding since I just have a boy and a girl, but I love the idea. If you need to buy all the same product and then color code it (like toothbrushes), you could always use colored electrical tape. The drumline in my highschool band used to use it to decorate their drumsticks, and there are lots of different colors!

  25. I color code sock, underwear and white pj shirts at our house with fabric paint. Each kid and even adult gets a color (don’t want to mix up underwear between the 12 yr old, dad and grandpa who all wear the same style). When I buy new socks or underwear for someone, I take them all out and mark them with the color for that kid on the toe of each sock or band of the underwear. When I do the laundry, I just have to sort colors into each persons box and the kids can match them up too.

  26. I color code anything I can! Sometimes I have to remind myself it’s ok if something is not their color as long as it’s distinguishable from the others.

    School supplies, journals, chore charts (if I ever do them), blankets, toothbrushes and on and on :)

    Since there are only so many shades of pink in the store (we have one boy and three girls) I decided to just go down the rainbow. I love the rainbow. I made sure my boy was good with orange and went with it. So we’re expecting baby blue…we’ll find out if we’re having a boy or girl next week LOL

    Makes me happy.

  27. Suggestion for boys’ socks: knot a colored string of embroidery floss to the toe of their socks. My mom used this for all of us. Works great.

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  29. For the socks you could also do what my mom did when we started wearing the same socks. She sewed a few stitches of pink thread in her socks at the top. You could do that the same colour as their cups. It may take a little while but it may be worth it.

  30. My mom color-coded my four siblings and me. And I’m doing the same thing with my kids, some of the things are cups, bowls, plates, notebooks and folders.

  31. We are just starting to do this for our family. Why we did not think of it sooner, I do not know. The cup issue is a nightmare!!! Towels were easy, but we can’t find cups that are suitable. We would like them all to be the same kind, just in different colors, and we are having a hard time finding cup sets that are the right size and that come in 6 different colors. Four seems to be what we typically find, or the cups are only 6 or 8 oz, or they are enormous, or glass. Anyone else reading this that has any good suggestions? I’d love a link!

  32. my 4 kids are 5 and under… and i don’t have twins….(our kids are all coded too!)

    Socks… i use a colored sharpie to make a dot on the bottom of each sock in that size. i have all the same socks for all my kids (girls and boys… who cares… they’re socks!)… i just put a colored dot (large enough that it can be easily seen) on the bottom of the sock. these aren’t color coded per child since they’ll be passed down… they are simply all the same colored dot within each size.

    each kid also has what we call a “sock bag” (those mesh “delicates” bags you can find at walmart for cheap with a zipper)… i sewed each kids color with a piece of binding tape around the bag so each bag has a colored stripe. they hang on hooks in the hallway by the washer. whenever they change socks or undies they are supposed to put them in their sock bag. they know their colors so i don’t have to monitor it. when they look like they have some stuff in them and i’m washing a kid load, i zip em up and toss em in. then they just get dumped into each kids drawer (i don’t fold socks!). saves on sorting all manner of tiny things… besides, it’s hard to tell the diff between 3T and 4T undies! this makes it easy!

  33. Since my brother and dad have the same size socks, and she buys the value packs in the cheapest brand (holes seam to appear overnight in their socks), my mom uses green thread my dad and blue for my brother. She just sews a few quick stitches on the inside of the sock so its easy to tell whose socks are whose.