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I have a confession… we are drowning in stuff at my house. Some of it’s valuable and sentimental and important, but most of it is just isn’t. But, I’m never going to be a minimalist, my kids are never going to have 10 piece capsule wardrobes and one wooden toy each. However, I started to realize that all of our ‘stuff’ was having a negative impact on our lives. If you feel like you’re drowning in clutter, here are some priceless decluttering tips for moms – why, how and when to purge your kids’ stuff, including the mistakes I’ve made throughout the years, *why* you want to save allthethings, how to tell what to keep and what to ditch, and how you can do the most good while simplifying your life.
Here’s how to get rid of all your kids’ clutter – without feeling like a terrible mom… and how we’re doing our Spring Refresh in collaboration with The Salvation Army.
WHY YOU NEED to purge your kids stuff
The clutter has so many negative impacts on our lives – honestly, the stuff causes massive amounts of frustration for everyone involved.
- the kids fight over every little ‘thing’, whether its a character plate at dinner or a new trinket.
- more stuff = more time spent cleaning and tidying, which I hate doing and hate spending time doing. We have way better things to do than clean!
- I’m constantly on my kids to get them to clean up their stuff. Not fun for anyone – honestly, I don’t want to manage their stuff anymore.
- I can never FIND anything. Important stuff gets lost in a mound of crap that no one uses.
- we all become victims of choice paralysis – this applies to clothes or shoes or toys – if there’s too much to choose from, making a decision is much more stressful.
You’re ready for a good purge if you’ve said or thought:
- what if we have another baby? we should probably hold onto this baby swing or package of onesies this baby grew out of and never wore…
- ohhh, I have to keep this shirt, my son wore it for our summer pictures in 2014…
- that’s the stuffed animal one of the nurses gave my daughter when she was in the hospital! it’s a must-keep…
Here’s why you want to keep your child’s things:
- they represent a memory – and yes, it totally makes sense to associate an object with a memory. But getting rid of the object, unless it’s truly special, doesn’t make the memory vanish or make the moment you’re remembering any less special.
- letting go of things can symbolize the end of a really amazing time in your life. Yes, it will make me SO sad to get rid of all the baby stuff, because that means we’re out of the baby stage. I get it! But, you’re baby isn’t a baby anymore, regardless of whether or not you hang onto the run-down bouncy seat in your basement. (Sorry!)
- when you see a toy, you still remember the moment of joy your child got when, for instance, they opened it on Christmas morning. But, getting rid of something now isn’t the same as taking away the moment of joy your child experienced.
- it’s hard to think of the waste, both environmental and financial. But, the money is already spent and the goods are already produced and there’s no reason to let guilt get in the way of living a happier life.
Questions to ask yourself about toys or clothing
- would I buy this today? if the answer is no, it should probably go.
- does my child love this, scale of 1-10? if it’s a 7 or lower, get rid of it.
- would my kids notice if this was gone? would they care? if they wouldn’t even notice, it should be gone. if they won’t care, why should you?
- when is the last time my kids played with this toy? if it’s been over 6 months, consider getting rid of it.
Tips for purging your kids’ stuff:
- Get your kids out of the house. Mine are still young – 5 and 3 – and are just not able to grasp the concept of donating their stuff or being able to let things go.
- Set a clear, confined space for toys and books and clothes – once it’s full, the rule is one-in, one-out. We have plenty of space to store our stuff but this teaches kids (and moms) that they have to make choices.
- Gather all the kids’ toys and put them in one room. Ours are spread across the house – den, basket in the living room, the basement, Quinn’s room, Cooper’s room – and I’m sure if we put them all in the same room, it would be easier to see that we have 27 stuffed animals and need about 2 of them.
- If you’re holding onto something to fix it, don’t. If you haven’t fixed it & you’ve lived this long without it, get rid of it. If it’s missing a piece, don’t save it in hopes that you’ll find the piece(s).
The Flawed Logic THat SEt Me Up for a Cluttered House
When I had Quinn, I wanted to keep everything because I knew we wanted a big family. Smart, right? But here’s the thing… I’m discovering clothes she never even wore that I kept. If I didn’t love it for my first baby, why would I all the sudden love it for a different baby 5 years later? It’s just not going to happen. Now I’m stuck with tubs of clothing that are too old and out of style to sell. Pack away a few special and/or quality things that you know you’ll want to see your next baby in or you’ll want to pass down to your child someday. If it’s stained in any way, let it go.
Also – people will still buy your next baby(ies) toys and books and clothes. Even if you already have a set of stacking blocks, someone is going to gift that stuff to your baby for his or her birthday or Christmas or whatever. And you end up with clutter.
Clothes are so inexpensive to replace and your tastes change, or your baby, even if it is the same sex as it’s sibling, might be born in an opposite season… so unless it’s really special, get rid of it.
So what do you DO with all the clutter?
For donations, I take my stuff to The Salvation Army and there are a few reasons I prefer using them. The first is that all proceeds from the sale of their donations go to help those in need in the community. Everything you donate is then sold at The Salvation Army Family Stores, and the proceeds are used to fund their rehabilitation programs that heal addiction and bring families back together. The second is that they will literally come to your house and pick up the stuff you want to donate – you can set up a pickup here.
Gift family or friends with hand me down packages – this way, you still get to see some of your kids’ precious clothes or favorite toys being enjoyed by another child you know.
Sometimes I will use Facebook to sell my kids’ things. There are also tons of retail and consignment options, but oftentimes it’s just easier to donate.
If it’s broken or stained, trash it. No brainer.
Keep & Store
I’m saving a couple of onesies to have a quilt made. But moving forward, we’re really trying to be more conscious of what we keep and what we let go.