Have you looked around and realised just how much STUFF you have? This time of year is one one of giving and over indulgence for a lot of people, but it is also a time to reflect on whether we really need any of it. Just spending time with friends and family is fantastic and is something I am trying to teach my children as being the most important part of the season. However gifts are inevitable when you have children as people love to give and it seems that the smaller the child, the BIGGER the box!
This year I was organised ahead of time as I remember the havoc from previous years with my older children. Also miss Penny doesn’t yet have her own bedroom so our living room had become a little more like a creche than a living room. SO, instead of big bulky toys we suggested that perhaps some storage solutions would be a great idea.
So, if like me you are sat, staring at a huge pile of stuff wondering what the heck you are going to do with it all, I have a few suggestions.
In the weeks running up to Christmas we sorted through all of the children’s clothes and toys and did what I like to call the 3 bag challenge. This can also be done after Christmas too of course. We also do it before a birthday. Now that 2/3 of my children are older I can trust them to do this alone, but if you have younger children who could get carried away, then supervision is advised :p Basically, I give each child a black sack a pink recycling bag and a yellow sack.
- The black is for any rubbish/broken toys that can not be recycled
- The pink for broken toys etc that can be recycled (it may be a different colour in your area)
- The yellow is for donations. Unwanted toys and clean clothes which still have lots of life left in them.
I have always taught my children that they should give back to those in need and that is especially poignant at Christmas time. My husband works for a hospice who run a huge jumble sale in order to raise money as well as to benefit the local community as the goods are normally priced pretty low so as the hospice is in one of London’s poorer boroughs. This year we cleared everything out early, but I have seen lots of people asking about what they can do with their children’s old toys/clothes and unwanted gifts so I did some research into my local area.
I came across a local group on Facebook run by volunteers who directly work with homeless shelters and refuges in my local area. I am often sceptical about Facebook groups like this and the sort who post flyers saying they will collect your unwanted clothes for charity, so I did some research into this one and have found them to be above board and not simply selling your items on for profit.
Local charity shops and jumble sales run by churches are one option although if you would like to know that your things are going to real people in need then here are some options you could try:
- Contact your local fire station– Obviously not via an emergency number, but an e-mail to find out if they know of any families who may have lost everything in a fire recently and need to start again.
- Ask your local church– In my local area there are churches who sell used items very cheaply to those in need. These are often referred by local councils for people in temporary/emergency accommodation.
- Contact your local hospital- Have you ever been in a waiting room with your child and noticed the shocking state/lack of toys available. There will be restrictions to what they can actually take (no soft toys/electrical items which aren’t boxed etc) but if you have board games/puzzles with all the pieces, books or toys which can be easily washed then they are normally happy to receive them.
- Freecycle– Freecycle is great for letting others have your unwanted items (anything at all) choose your area, register and then post your advert (offered, various toys, start of postcode in title) this helps with people know how far you are from them.
- Donate to your local nursery/childminder/Schools/Children Centre: There is always a need to replace old/broken toys which get a lot of use daily, so these places tend to be VERY happy to receive your unwanted toys.
- Contact Social Services- They will know of any families who are in need of a bit of help but might be a little slow to reply to you.
I hope I have given you some inspiration for how you can declutter your home while doing something good.
Do you have any other suggestions? Do you already do any of these things? I’d love to hear from you. xx