At the end of the year, full of food and fun, I always find myself in a purging mood (not bulimic) but purging of the closets etc. I think it is the mental part of out with the old and in with the new that sends my car full of stuff to goodwill at least two to three times between Christmas and New Years.
There is a fine line between a border and a smart, thrifty homemaker and throwing vs. keeping is the distinction.
Today's post is about Kid's Stuff.
When you have little kids, there is an overabundance of stuff. Toys, clothes, supplies, etc. It gets overwhelming. It gets messy. HOWEVER, it is expensive to replace. You can look forward to the fact that even though teenagers are moody, their stuff is much smaller and does not require a whole playroom to keep it in check.
- If you are thinking of adding more kids to your brood, save anything unstained. You'll need as much money to keep the older siblings occupied while you eat up a new baby.
- If you are 100% certain that you are done having children, pass most of it on. Give it to charity, a school, a homeless shelter, a neighbor or a friend. Saving every little sock and tiny hat seems darling and sentimental , but it is really hoarding.
- Save the outfit he or she came home from the hospital or a couple of other little pieces that you remember something special about but seriously, unless it is a family heirloom, no one is going to want your carter's onesies in 30 years.
- If items were super expensive or fabulous, consider selling them on eBay or at a consignment place. Then you can buy more cute stuff with the cash.
- If something is great but the kids are bored with it, stash away for a raining day. My middle school kids were still pulling out the magnet toys, legos and board games up until they got laptops and iPads. Then we turned the playroom into a man cave.
- If it is loud and annoying, eats up batteries or makes the kids nuts in a bad way, give to goodwill (Schools don't want them either). All of those carnival type stuffed animals, party favors, etc should go in the goodwill bag in the trunk of your car or outside garbage can as soon as your kids are not looking. They tend to multiply and are really not enjoyed for more than the first five minutes that they are in a child's hand.
- EXCEPTION: save that special teddy bear or cool toy that will stand the test of time . I'm talking one or two sentimental things per child (not a closet full)
- NOTE: If your children have any tendency to hoard, do not involve them in the purging of the toys. Teach them charity in another way. My kids do not want to give or throw anything away. In fact, when cleaning out their room, if they are asked about any item, even a pencil, they become instantly re-enamored with it and cannot agree to part with it. They stop caring about the orphan that will use that lint-covered pencil to become a nobel prize winner. They will fight with you for an hour over that thing that they forgot ever existed. Get the stuff out of the house when they are not looking and put it in your car for later distribution.
- If it is in good condition and you are thinking of having more kids, store it. If your high chair or stroller are gunky and dirty, pitch them. You're going to want the latest and greatest anyway, so pitch them or send them to Grandma's house. My mom and mother in law both had strollers, cribs, pack n'plays etc at their houses which always cut down on the amount of crap that I had to haul there when
dumping them off theredropping them off for a visit.
- If the gear-ish item really never got used with the first baby (wiper warmer, diaper genie, etc), I can guarantee that you will not use it with the second. The stuff you should get rid of would be the parent convenience types of things. If you did not have the patience to use them with the first baby or two, you definitely won't with the next kiddo. The exceptions would be items like swings, bouncy seats. One of my babies loved all of those things and the other hated them
- One of my girlfriends has a storage unit full of every single item that her child produced. I'm not just talking about artwork, but every single test, book report, etc. She obviously has issues but anything more than a small tote of your child's work seems like overkill to me. Save the especially cute or meaningful pieces (I have a piece framed in my room from pre-school!) but every scribble is going to dilute and clutter it up.
- Trust me, your children are not going want any of it when they have their own homes. My Dad texted me a photo of the plaque that my sorority big sister made me when I pledged in 1985 that he found the day after Christmas. I forgot that it ever existed. If I saw it at a flea market, I would have never recognized it. I did not want it. It was taking up space in their closet for almost 30 years! Here it is...
- The exception would be if your child is destined to be the next Romero Brito, Pablo Picasso, etc. If little Johnny is a phenom, you may want to save his finger paintings because they will be worth some serious bucks someday at Christies. Otherwise, display for a while and then pitch most of it.
- HOWEVER, don't let your kids see you throwing it away as you may need to pay for therapy later on.
- This is where I err on the side of hoarding. Even though my youngest is an uncrafty boy in 8th grade, we are still doing those horrible class projects on a regular basis. The projects always require lots of supplies so Avoiding a trip to Michaels is like adding $50 to my IRA. In fact, I always stock up on school and art supplies when I see a good deal (such as after the start of school). I have a whole (small) closet dedicated to art and office supplies.
- Make a costume box. Put hats and other dress up stuff in there. I'm not kidding. If you don't and you are trying to put together a Christopher Columbus Costume in May (long before and after any store has Halloween supplies) you will thank me. You would think that this would have ended for me by now, but Cinco De Mayo, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Famous Book Character Month, etc etc are still alive and well in Middle School and Homecoming Spirit week is still a big thing in High School. Once again, the money saved by having to pay to Fed Ex an Albert Einstein wig to make sure that your son gets the "A" will help you when you retire (or buy a really nice bottle of wine to deal with the stress of these stupid projects)
What are your hints for throwing vs. keeping kid's stuff? I'd love to hear them.