Kids are messy. About 60% of the time I spend have with the kids is spent tidying up after them. More stuff means more mess. So in an attempt to claw some time back from the never-ending cycle of tidying up, I went full Marie Kondo on the kids’ toys.
When I’ve got rid of their stuff before, I sent most of it to charity, without any real thought about where it would go next. After reading about the amount of stuff that gets sent to charity and is never resold, I thought I better be a bit more mindful about how I get rid of their old toys and books.
Below are five ways I decluttered, without putting anything in the bin.
- Donating toys and jigsaws to the kids’ nursery
Evan’s nursery teacher mentioned that they we’re in need of some more toys for their home corner. I saw this a big green light for decluttering the kids’ play kitchen and palming off their plastic food. There was steaks so brown Joni thought she’d been playing with chocolate for two years, giant carrots and teeny tiny plastic roast chickens that fit in teacups.
It was time for these mismatched fruit, veg and meat monstrosities to move on. I took them into nursery and handed them over with the caveat that some of them were quite small, so asked them to keep an eye out for any children who’re used to eating very, very well done steaks.
I also handed over some wooden jigsaws that used to be Joni’s and that are now too easy for Evan. It was an awkward moment a week or so later when Joni spotted them and told her teacher that she had ones just like it at home. Luckily the teacher didn’t let on.
2. List on Freecycle
Freecycle is now my go-to place to get rid of any kind of random stuff I come across at home. So far, a box of old tools and screws, a camera battery charger, a box of stationery and a blender have all found happy new homes.
I gathered a boxful of Joni’s old puzzles and books, put them on Freecycle and within an hour someone had come to collect them. It’s easier than taking a heavy load to the charity and another kid gets to play with them straightaway.
3. Donated to a church table top sale
Andrew’s mum Joan is very into church. She goes at least once a week. When she mentioned they were having a table top sale to raise funds for the church I presented her with a bin bag full of old toys. Though since then I’ve noticed some of the toys are actually now living in Joan’s house and one of them has made it’s way back to our house after Andrew’s Dad fixed it. It was to be fixed and moved on, not move back in!
A table top sale was the perfect solution in may way though, more space for me, more funds for Joan’s church and more chance of getting in the good books of baby Jesus. I’m a non-believer, but you never know.
4. Facebook Marketplace
I had a huge clear out before Christmas and Facebook Marketplace turned out to be the ideal place to sell stuff too cheaply to lots of different women who all called me ‘hun’. Last year I sold Joni’s Tommy Tippee formula milk maker for £20 (no chance of boob-obsessed Evan ever using it). And a whole heap of books and toys for pennies.
As I wanted to get rid of stuff quickly, I decided to just give it away for free. Turns out the people of Facebook Marketplace love free stuff. I put a group of electronic (and super annoying) toys on there and within seconds I had four different messages. This happened with books and jigsaws too. People just can’t get enough of free stuff.
I could have made a few pounds if I’d have sold all the stuff but it just didn’t seem worth it. There’s nothing more awkward than haggling with a stranger on your doorstop over whether a jumping Peppa Pig is worth one or two pounds.
5. Take it to a charity shop
I know I started this post by saying I regret taking so much stuff to charity, rather than finding a proper home for it, but this time round, I did it with a bit more thought. I took small amount of toys and books at a time to a local charity shop that specialises in children’s items.
Some of our local charity shops barely sell any children’s stuff, and I know I’ve donated plenty to them before, so I avoided these. Instead I took a few bits at a time to Kids Around the World, a charity shop that specialises in selling kids’ stuff to make money to help kids that don’t have anything.
I didn’t take too much at a time, as I didn’t want to overwhelm the shop by dumping four years worth of unwanted kids’ stuff on them. I did it in three trips, spaced a few weeks apart and still take the odd bit now if I’m passing.
If you’re trying to declutter and taking things to charity then the golden rule is don’t take your kids with you. Not only will they get upset when they see bags of their things disappearing into the back room, but you’ll feel bad and end up buying bags of stuff you don’t need to make you, and your kids, feel better.
So there you go, it takes a bit more effort but I feel much better getting rid of every item in a more mindful way than I did dumping everything on the overwhelmed ladies at our local charity shops.