Whilst you might be busy preparing to celebrate another birthday, it’s also the time to schedule in your ‘pre-birthday clean out’ Why? Because you will no doubt be inundated with new items in the home.
Now the first and most important tip is to tackle this on your own. Do not have your kids involved, absolutely not! You will know what your kids play with and what they don’t. You know what’s rubbish and what’s not rubbish. You know the shells she collected last summer? They are not something she is going to play with but even if she does ask you where they are.. you can simply respond with “I’ve given it away.” They might cry, they might not. But it’s not going to traumatise them, because you know exactly what they love and play with. You haven’t gone and thrown away their favourite doll, as you know she loves that!
Donating the items
It is important to research where to donate the stuff before you get stuck in and start doing any clean-out. Because there is nothing worse than ending up with that big bag of donations sitting at the front door or in the boot of your car. Why do we have to get rid of it immediately? Because we don’t want our kids rummaging through there and ruining all of your hard work.
If you’re passing onto a friend, make sure your friends know you’re doing the clear-out and they have to come and pick it up that day. Call the daycare and see what toys they will take. Doctors’ waiting rooms are a great place to take puzzles and pet stores will take stuffed toys. Look at the charities around you and call first to ensure they are able to take what you have on offer.
Facebook groups are another great option for giving things away. You can simply post that you are doing a cull of your children’s toys and offer for someone to come and collect them that day.
Selling the items
If you’re someone who wants to sell items, be wary because regardless of whether you are trying to sell a $5 item or $500 item, selling on Facebook and Gumtree isn’t always easy. There a lot of time wasters out there, so please remember that your time is valuable. Remember, you didn’t buy these things thinking it was an investment and that you were going to sell them. These things were given to you or you bought them for your child to use, so the easiest thing is to pass them on to give joy to somebody else.
Avoiding the crap
Be vocal about it and tell people! “Oh my gosh you know, I just do not want my child overwhelmed with toys.” Suggesting an experience is a great idea. Whether this is tickets for two to the cinema, or bowling, or something like that. An experience is a really good thing to give because you know that mum can take them or dad or whoever – it’s just fun to give an experience.
Boxing the gifts
Once the toys come in from the birthday party, they are going to want to open EVERYTHING but try to avoid this. You most probably won’t get away from unwrapping them all that same day as you feel the need to thank everyone, and your children to appreciate the gesture of receiving. I often suggest putting all or most of the unwrapped gifts in a box and then away in the spare room or top of a cupboard where the kids can’t get to. You can then give them to your child at a later date or as a reward for something or occasion. The first week is always the hardest as they do want to get their hands on more, but within a couple of weeks, they forget about it.
It’s the same as in Halloween, when they go ‘Trick or Treating’. You wouldn’t let them go and eat that whole box of lollies – you hide it. You give some to them for a couple of days after Halloween and then a week later, it goes into the bin. They’ve forgotten about it. And when they ask, you say Halloween is over. You are your children’s advocate and you know what’s best for them, so you can put in these same boundaries with the toys.
When you do get that stored box of presents, you can assess what is age-appropriate and either re-gift or give at a later date or you might even choose to donate some.
These tips can also be put in place throughout the year.. because don’t forget, Christmas could be coming up, there might be Hanukkah or other holidays within your community or religion that also require some attention to the “gift influx”.