The year of lockdown has not been good for the levels of clutter in our homes. With children across the country being cooped up indoors and homeschooled, families have accumulated more entertainment, schooling equipment, toys and books – more of everything than ever before. If you feel like your home is becoming cramped and untidy, here is a guide to keep handy for a rainy day during the summer holidays. Rope the kids in, after all, decluttering skills are life skills – decision-making, finding ways to donate or recycle, dispose or repurpose items, developing routines for dealing with belongings, and understanding the natural flow of things in and out of a home can all be useful activities for children to learn.
Recent figures suggest that in the UK the typical child owns around 240 toys, but parents think they play with about 12 ‘favourites’ (around 5% of their toys) on a daily basis (source). Quite simply, the fewer toys you have the easier it will be to keep them organised.
Here are a few useful exit routes I recommend:
Charity shops – most high street charities accept toys in good condition. Bear in mind that space is at a premium in many of these shops, so it’s best to call ahead to check what they will accept. I’ve found that larger Barnardo’s stores are particularly receptive to bulkier toys, such as dolls’ houses.
Car boot sales or selling online on local groups and pre-loved websites can be a fun way for kids to free up space whilst making some extra pocket money.
Toys 4 Life are dedicated to the re-use and recycling of unwanted plastic toys! If you are over-run with surplus plastic toys (including LEGO), they will collect them for free and export them to third world countries and socially deprived areas where people are unable to afford new toys. Simply head to their website for more information and to arrange a free collection.
All those mobile phones, iPods, tablets, game consoles and accessories can certainly take up a lot of room and gather a lot of dust. Once they are no longer used they can tend to build up in junk drawers!
Here are a few exit strategies for this tricky, ever-changing category:
For items that are in working order I recommend eBay, Gumtree and local Facebook groups – they all offer a simple and convenient way to sell items to people who are actively searching for them. Music Magpie can also be a fun way to sell your tech – they will give you an online quote when you input codes from the items.
High street charity shops – check if they accept electrical or electronic items and always ensure the item is in a clean, saleable condition before donating.
For items that are broken or past their useful life, the simplest route is to take them to your local recycling centre or hand them in for recycling at selected electrical retailers. Currys and Argos are just two of the many retailers who will take your old tech off your hands and recycle it for free. You don’t even have to have bought it from them. In a nutshell, anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled.
Recycling For Good Causes will accept unwanted electricals and will send a cheque for the proceeds to your chosen charity or good cause. They even offer a free collection service. Check out their website for all the details of what they will accept.
Most charity shops accept books but OXFAM has dedicated book stores up and down the country. There are also book & music banks situated at larger Sainsbury’s stores.
Tesco has book banks in some of its stores – you simply hand in your books at customer services.
Simply Sell Books will buy books from you and can collect for free. If they cannot find a new home for your unwanted titles they will ensure they are disposed of responsibly.
If you only have a handful of titles and aren’t in a huge rush for them to go, Amazon offers a handy option for getting books out of the house one at a time. This can be particularly good for items that are in mint condition or that have been discontinued. Simply list your title, determine a price and then keep an eye on your emails for a sale.
Most of the time, kids outgrow their clothes way before the clothes are ready for recycling. My favourite way to ensure kids’ clothes get a new lease of life is to pass them on to friends with younger children. This is particularly the case for smart/party clothing, t-shirts/tops that have had little wear and school uniform that is in good condition.
eBay and local Facebook groups are handy options. Putting together clothing bundles (by size and season) can be a good way of getting items out of the house in bulk.
Clothing banks are a simple and convenient option for getting surplus clothing out of the house to be re-sold, reused or recycled. Most supermarkets, schools and sports centres have one in their recycling areas. Generally, items in wearable condition will be sold in charity shops or sold for reuse overseas. Those that are not wearable will be recycled and used for insulation or for stuffing sofas, cars seats etc.
Want to delve in further into your next declutter with kids? Check this post about managing clutter in small kids’ rooms or this one about reducing paper clutter by reading this post on storing or displaying kids’ artwork. Feeling stressed about the end of term? Stay on top of your to do list with these handy tips.
Preparing for a summer trip? You must read this post on getting your road trip organised like a pro.
I hope all these tips on decluttering with kids offered inspiration to get you started. But if you need further support, a professional declutterer and organiser like myself can work with you to streamline your home – or parts of it – in a way that will put you back in control of your time. Simply book a quick confidential chat so we can explore how I can offer you the gift of time.
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