The start of the school year is fast approaching and while it's been lovely to spend quality family time together, I know in our family we're all going stir-crazy and really looking forward to the new term!
Before we get there, I am definitely feeling the urge to organise the house so we can hopefully keep the transition to school as stress-free as possible.
Before I start any project it makes me feel better to write a list (classic procrastination technique!) so here goes, my top 5 areas that need to be de-cluttered and reorganised before the end of the school holidays:
1. The Tupperware Drawer
Every school has different expectations for school lunches and it might be worth sussing out what's the norm at your school. At the school that my son is going to this year, they have multiple eating breaks and also snack times where they eat at their desks. Apparently, this means that multiple containers are necessary. We have heaps of small containers, but seemingly not as many lids, so this is priority number one. Nothing is as frustrating as looking for missing lids! Same goes for waterbottles- matching them all up ahead of time will give me a chance to ditch the odds and ends and replace them with things that actually match.
2. The Pantry and Freezer
Before I go crazy buying, baking and freezing school lunchbox snacks, our food storage needs a re-think. I'd love to have a specific spot in the pantry for snacks so when I write the shopping list it's easier to see what we have already. I would also like a dedicated place in the freezer for frozen muffins and slices because often things that go in our freezer end up at the back and never come out, which is super annoying when you've gone to the effort of actually cooking!
3. The Entrance Hall
We have an entrance hall in our house with a 'shoe shelf', bag hooks and a sideboard for keys, coins and phones. This sounds great in theory, but actually, it quickly turns into a dumping ground for all of the random crap that comes into the house. Before I set it up with a spot for a backpack, school shoes and hat, it needs a deep clean (and maybe it's time to cull that shoe collection!).
4. The Car
This might seem over the top, but school holiday activities have been tough on our poor little car and nothing makes you feel more like a proper, in control adult like a clean vehicle. I have a feeling that there's a treasure trove of hats, socks and shoes under the back seats and maybe even some of that missing Tupperware, so before school starts a full clean, inside and out, is on the list.
5. The Wardrobe
For the first time in my son's life, we're making room for a school uniform. I really want to encourage him to be independent and get himself dressed and ready for school. To make it easier for him we need to go through his stuff together, sell or donate the clothes he's grown out of and make one drawer a dedicated school uniform section. He hasn't tried on his new uniform yet, so I'd love him to do that before the first day so we have a chance to exchange ill-fitting items and wash the rest, ready to wear. Then we need to go through and make sure his socks are paired, his underwear is passable and he's not missing any important items.
This is my first time as a primary school parent, so I'm SURE I'm missing some things- feel free to shoot me a comment if you have any awesome tips!
The Challenge of Letting Go
Magazines, tv programs, and lifestyle blogs are promoting the idea of decluttering and for the most part, we're totally on board but it is still SO hard to get rid of the teeny tiny baby clothes from our ever-growing children. Comparing how much they've grown and smelling that lingering baby smell is Mummy crack and it can be hard to give up!
So why would you? Anyone who has gone full Mari Kondo in their house knows that items that still give you joy are meant to stay put, and reminiscing about the early days of baby life is absolutely a joy. Eventually, pragmatism wins. If you know that those clothes are never going to be worn again (by your kids, anyway) it's hard to justify giving up the storage space. Unless you're living in a big house with ample wardrobes (or a decent garage), all of the sentimental stuff gets in the way. As you move out of the baby phase and into kidhood, you're going to need that space for a million pieces of Lego and one thousand hand-painted artworks.
If you're planning to grow your family and would rather not re-buy all of those baby basics it makes sense to hang on to the bits and pieces you'll need- but to be honest, a lot of the gear I held onto between bubbas I really wasn't impressed with when number two arrived. My tastes had changed, baby two was much bigger at birth, had a different complexion and was the opposite sex so essentially I had lugged a lot of stuff around only to give it away.
Another common reason for hanging on to baby stuff is for your sister/friend/cousin for when they have a baby. It's lovely to pass things on so you get to see them worn by another child that's close to you, so if there is a baby on the way then hang on to everything you think that friend or family will actually use. This is the hard part, you have to be really careful about what you pass on, otherwise, you're just moving your clutter to your friend's house (and she'll have an even harder time parting with it because it came from you!).
I'm very fond of the Japanese concept of 'Montannai', where wastefulness is unacceptable because each and every object has its own spirit. I love the idea that objects have their own thing going on, and it's proven to me time and time again in the shop- we've had consignments in the past where no matter how lovely they are, or what price we put on them, they just won't sell. When they're returned to their consignor you can see the relief on their face to have that special thing back.
On the flipside, when consignors are ready to move on, items sell easily and start another journey with a new child. Sometimes those items get outgrown and come back to the store for another round of memories and I know I'm a bit weird but I really think you can feel that vibe when you hold something in your hands. I guess that's why they call it preloved!
I don't have the answers, I'm happy that in our house there's one small box of keepsakes for each child. Each contains an outfit to remind us how small they were, a few treasured gifts, the cards people brought us in the hospital and their first birthday cards. I hope I can keep it this way because our storage situation demands it and we can't afford a bigger house!
And now over to you, what have you kept? What do you ditch and how do you motivate yourself to part with it?
My kids seem to outgrow their entire wardrobes overnight! Pants that fit perfectly yesterday are an inch too short, shoes are uncomfortable, and t-shirts have mysteriously become crop tops. Before Use-Ta! I would think to myself 'what do I do with all these baby clothes?!' and I'm sure there are tonnes of parents out there thinking the exact same thing so I thought i'd write a post about the many options out there for selling your kid's clothes.
Gumtree & eBay
Selling your baby and children's clothes online through eBay or Gumtree is a great option for parents who have the time and the inclination. The trick is to upload good quality photos along with thorough descriptions and be prepared to answer buyer questions and provide further information to keep your feedback positive. eBay and Gumtree are both great for bundling together items in the same size which means you can offload a bunch of stuff quickly. Gumtree is free to post an ad and eBay's fees vary according to how many items you've advertised in a calendar month and how your buyer has paid for the item. A lot of people prefer to meet up and collect items to save on the cost of postage but if you're not comfortable with that make it really clear that pick up is not available and make some time to get to the post office!
Facebook is perfect for selling popular brands or to people in your area. The best way to find the right group is to go to Facebook and search for your favourite brands or your local area with the keywords buy, swap, sell or trade. Most of the good groups are closed and the admins check to make sure new members are legit so before you ask to join make sure you have a clear profile pic so they know you're a real person. Once you're in make a point of reading the pinned post so you can follow the rules of the page- many a Facebook feud has been started over group guidelines and on many pages if you don't follow the rules you get booted! When you're selling your stuff clear photos are important and a clear description of the item's condition, payment terms and postage details. One big plus of Facebook selling is that there's often a lovely community of parents with similar interests hanging out in these groups, and it's free! Pro tip- avoid people wasting your time by specifying that immediate payment is required (preferably with PayPal so both buyer and seller have protection if something goes awry).
Markets & Garage Sales
If you have a lot of stuff to sell a market stall or garage sale could be an option. There are heaps of child and baby specific markets that pop up in different venues, such as the Kidspot or All For Kids markets in Melbourne and most areas have a trash-n-treasure market. Book early to get a good stall at a good venue and be clear about the fees involved and what they include (for example, some markets don't include public liability insurance or tables and chairs). Don't forget to rent or bring a trestle table or clothing rack to display your goods and show up early to make your set-up easy on the eye and organised. Bring a buddy in case you need to eat or use the bathroom and don't want to leave the stall unattended, and also because friends make it way more fun. Before the day make sure everything is clearly priced (people hate asking) and if you have particular sizes or brands that might be of interest print off signs to put on your racks or table. If you've gone the garage sale route make some big, colourful signs for the main roads around your house. Bring change and shopping bags, be friendly and be prepared for some haggling!
If all of the above is just too much or if you just don't have the time to do it yourself a consignment store like Use-Ta! is a great option. You just drop the stuff off and let us do the rest! Check out our seller's information at www.use-ta.com.au/sell for details.
So there you go! There are so many options for re-selling your baby and kid's clothes. If they're good quality, in good condition and are good brands then there are people out there who want to buy them. It's sustainable, it puts money back into the family budget and it's fun!
Use-Ta! is all about getting beautiful clothes out of your child’s wardrobe (or those storage tubs in the shed) and getting them back out there to find new little people to love them but it can be really hard to part with some things!
Mari Kondo fanatics and decluttering experts extol the virtues of de-cluttering, thanking items for their service and then letting them go and for the most part we follow this advice at home. As soon as something is too small out it goes- if it’s in fabulous condition and ready for a new home I sell it at Use-Ta! (both of my kids have their own accounts to build up store credit so I can get the new things they need), if it’s in good condition it goes to charity and if it’s really past it we re-use it for cleaning rags and craft projects.
After moving house multiple times in the last few years and moving into a house with ONE built in cupboard outside of the kitchen we’ve seriously reduced our stash but these are the things I can honestly say there will always be space in our home for:
- The Wondersuit our little boy came home from hospital in
- The pram blanket my partner bought before he was born
- The knit blanket my best friend bought for our baby-shower (you can see it was eaten by moths and then repaired, I was devastated!)
- The pair of Supra sneakers our other best friend bought for the new baby (never worn, totally impractical but sentimental all the same!)
I think that’s a pretty good effort! Out of all the amazing clothes they’ve owned we’ve kept very little, we have photographs (thank goodness for cloud storage) and of course memories but for the most part the physical item didn’t need to be held on to forever!
How about you, what does your baby’s ‘forever’ box look like?