I’m not a huge fan of clutter. Since having a little one, I’ve tried desperately to thin the herd that constantly makes way into my not so large living space.  At the pace in which children go through toys and clothes, sometimes it can only take a few short months to start feeling like a possible candidate for an episode of hoarders. . While I try not to be a complete witch in taking away my child’s toys, and clothes, I do pay extra special attention to what she is currently interested in for the sole purpose of getting rid of anything that is no longer on the favorites list. Someone has to keep everything together, and make room for the inevitable parade of new toys and clothes that find their way into our lives. While clothing is easy to discard at the appropriate time as children grow out of them so quickly, toys are another story. The toys in my household go for a sort of ride through our home before either settling or making permanent departure. This clutter train is the secret to my sanity, and the key to a less chaotic household.

First Stop: If it’s a current favorite, it’s in the main room

Some of my daughter’s favorite toys are basically pointless to put away because she loves them so much. We spend a lot of our time in the living room; therefore I went out and bought decorative baskets that look nice in our living space, but also function as quick, simple keepers of the toys she never seems to want to put away, thus giving the illusion of a clutter-free home.

Second Stop: If it’s no longer a favorite, but loved, it’s organized and stored in a cheap, easy manner.

Somewhere in the hours I spent online I found that there are some who use lingerie bags to contain some of the tiny toys children adore, but don’t necessarily play with on a regular basis. One of the best ideas I’ve seen in terms of easy gathering, and packing of toys. I bought a package of three for fewer than five dollars, and these things work wonders! I have a bag of Fisher Price Little People, a bag containing all of the play food for her pretend kitchen, and another bag filled with small animal toys. It’s so nice to toss everything into a zippered back before tossing them in the toy chest. This way the toys aren’t falling into oblivion, they have some form of organization, and it’s easy to monitor how often they are used.

Third Stop: If it’s no longer used, and not a keepsake, it’s time to part ways

My rule of thumb is if my daughter is no longer showing interest in a toy, and it’s not something that holds sentimental value, it’s going to be moving out very soon. If I’m unsure whether my daughter is ready to part with a specific toy, I do the one week rule. I keep the toy or toys in the living room baskets where the things that receive the most attention live. If they still don’t receive much attention I know it’s time for them to move on, and start packing a bag for their permanent departure.

End of the Line: Donation drop offs, eBay, and consignment

Just because you are parting ways with toys and clothes doesn’t mean that they need to go to waste, or that you can’t benefit from it either.  Of course, clothing and toys that are stained, destroyed, and pretty much not meant for further use will need to be tossed, but children grow out of such things so quickly that often toys and clothing that are no longer loved, or suitable for our children are near new! I do one of three things with the discarded toys and clothes from my ever-growing toddler. I may donate the clothing and toys to one of the various donation drop offs in my area so others can enjoy the treasures my child has outgrown. If you have a local Goodwill, and you itemize on your tax returns, make sure to grab a receipt for the items to drop off from the volunteers so you can deduct during tax season!

Sometimes I compile a “lot” of clothing to sell on eBay, which benefits both me and the buyer.  I piece together a group of clothing in the same size, or season and sell it for one low price. The buyer receives gently used, sometimes even new clothing for a bargain price, and I receive a bit of cash in return. Admittedly, I’ve bought a few clothing lots on eBay and been pleasantly surprised by the variety, and quality of the items received.

Some consignment shops are excellent for trading store credit, cash, clothing and toys. It’s great being able to trade in outgrown items for ones I know my daughter is ready for. I spent next to nothing on an outdoor playhouse at my local consignment shop after trading in a bag of items no longer in use. If you don’t have a problem with secondhand items, this is certainly a wonderful money making/saving option.

When the final stop is home: Make a happy place for the sentimental keepsakes

In my attic I keep a box filled with hand-made items, special toys, and keepsakes for my daughter to re-discover once she’s older. I’m eternally grateful my mother kept bins of some of my favorite toys, and clothing my grandmother made for me. I’ve loved seeing my daughter wear some of the things my late grandmother carefully crafted with her own two hands, and playing with the My Little Ponies from the 1980’s, which were kept safely in my mother’s attic until the day I had a child of my own. Not everything is clutter, there are things worth keeping, sighing over, and holding onto for another day or new generation. Make a special box, or bin for such items and store them away; your children will love you for it; especially once they are grown with little ones of their own!

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