To promote my upcoming role as Guest Editor for the January 2017 edition of Tampa Bay Parenting magazine, I was invited to present a segment on Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend news show about eliminating the clutter of holiday toys before the new year.
Except anyone who’s ever been inside my home or has seen the inside of my car probably feels like they’re on an episode of Hoarders. I mean I haven’t got to the point where I need the assistance of a pest control company like terminix kentucky as there are no sights of mice or ants in my car. But I have heard a few stories where this has happened to some people. I’ve got some junk in my trunk. (Za-zing!) I just want to start sorting everything out before it even has a chance to get worse.
Really. I have no business telling other people what to do with their “stuff” because, with a two-year-old and four-year-old, I have issues of my own.
(All I want for Christmas is for my husband go find Alice the Housekeeper from the Brady Bunch and have her come move in with me.)
I enlisted the help of some professionals and expert moms regarding how they purge toys and clothes to free up space in time for the new year. Here’s some of my favorite suggestions.
What to Purge. Toys that are loud, obnoxious, and cause you to hear dinging and buzzing in your sleep. (Ohhhh, the batteries are missing? No clue where they went…) Toys that are an impalement risk. Legos. Puzzles. (The pieces always end up missing.) Anything that is broken or stained. And lastly, any toys that trigger arguments among your kids. (I’ve learned to give them the same presents to avoid disputes.)
Other Types of Toys Worthy of Purging. Anything that has not been played with in the last 6 months. Anything that is similar to another toy they already have (keep only one!) Keep a set of toys in the closet and reintroduce them to your child every few months. If they aren’t interested, get rid of them.
Host a Neighborhood Swap Party or Girls’ Night. Invite your friends and neighbors over and have them bring toys and clothes they no longer need to swap with the other families (after all, other kids’ toys are the best toys!). Include wine. It’s a party!
Enlist Help from Elf on the Shelf. Gather a large assortment of old toys in a box for the Elf to bring to Santa in the North Pole when Christmas is over. Tell your children the Elf and his Elf friends will refurbish the toys so they can go to needy children the following Christmas. Your kids will feel good knowing they are helping others. (Props to Heather Phillips Walsh from the Moms of South Tampa Facebook group for sharing this good idea!)
Holidays are Over? No problem. When it’s your child’s birthday, have them bring out the same number of old toys as new gifts they receive so they can exchange them for their presents. (Again, idea credit to Heather Phillips Walsh. I need to be friends with this gal.)
Social Media. This is a great way to get rid of clutter that’s actually worth something. Aside from social media like Craigslist that spans a wider geographic area, you can also look to local Facebook groups for selling and swapping your belongings with others. My favorite Facebook groups in the Tampa Bay area are South Tampa Swap and Shop and MacDill Yard Sale. There is also an app called Nextdoor where you can communicate directly with other people in your neighborhood regarding “stuff” you’re trying to get rid of.
Clothes. Once a year, I go through my closet and get rid of anything that is dated, stained, doesn’t fit (e.g. too tight, usually not the other way around), or that I haven’t worn in the last calendar year. Most of the time, the items in my wardrobe changes depending on the season, which is why the idea of looking into using a Sydney storage facility does sound appropriate. There are times when I don’t know what to get rid of or I don’t have time, so having the option to put everything in storage until I am ready does sound like this would make more sense. When it does come to getting rid of some things, this requires me to be honest with myself, as I have historically held onto clothes because I was holding out for an opportunity to wear something, which usually never ended up happening. There is a zero percent chance I will wear a decade-old (mmm… ok… fifteen-year-old) fraternity or sorority mixer shirt in public. Zero. My friend told me to find a garage to rent so I could put some belongings in there but I haven’t got round to it yet.
Donation Locations. There are tons of these in your local community, and you can usually begin by calling your neighborhood church, who might know of a family in need of clothes and toys. There are other donation and charitable organizations that accept gently used goods. In South Tampa, I take my clothing donations to the Salvation Army and toys that are in good condition to a local thrift store called Lionhearted Toys.
You can watch my news segment here.
Happy purging, and wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families.