What's the best way to get rid of stuff my family doesn't need any more?
Real Mom Problem
“Anyone else have more stuff than they need? It is amazing how things accumulate once you have kids. I really need to declutter.”
- 1. Set aside regular times to sort through clothes, toys, and other belongings
- 2. If you haven't used something in over a year, consider giving it away or tossing it
- 3. Set up a "Donation Station" in your home where the whole family can place items they no longer need
- 4. Research charities and organizations in your area before choosing where to donate your things
- 5. Consider having a yard sale, selling things on eBay, or using Freecycle to rid your home of unused items
Real Mom Solutions
Stuff. We've all got it. So how can we keep it under control? The moms of CafeMom have great tips for simplifying your life, and sharing the wealth!
Our Expert Mom Says...
Having a "Donation Station" is one of the best ways to ensure there is a consistent outflow of unneeded items from your home. You can set up a simple place in a closet, garage, or laundry room where you have a few paper grocery sacks or shopping bags to collect anything you want to donate. If you are going to get a tax deduction for these donations, you can leave a clipboard with paper and pen by the bags and make a list of the items. Make sure the family knows to bring things to this spot when they are no longer needed, and get them out of circulation. When the bags are full, put them in the car to take to Goodwill®. You can find your nearest donation center at http://locator.goodwill.org.
(YouTube video here on Donation Stations: http://youtu.be/IAngD0Lnc40)
Lorie Marrero is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the bestselling author of "The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life." She is also the creator of ClutterDiet.com, an innovative program allowing anyone to get expert help at an affordable price. Lorie is the spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International, and she is a sought-after expert for national media such as CNBC, "Family Circle," WGN News and "Woman's Day." She writes regularly as an organizing expert for "Good Housekeeping." She lives in Austin, TX with her husband, two human sons, and 30,000 bee daughters in her backyard beehives.
The Moms of CafeMom Say...
Start at closet #1 with trash bag in hand, throw out anything you have not seen or used in the last year (this excludes decorations for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, etc.). If you haven't seen or used it in a year, you don't need it, trust me, throw it away!
Proceed to next closet, cabinet, room, etc. until you have gone through your entire house. Now when I say throw it away, I mean throw it away! Don't do this: "Well I should donate this or have a yard sale" or any of that nonsense. Because what is going to happen? It is going to go clutter somewhere else in your house, trust me! If you think someone might want it, call them and say "you have one hour to come and get this or it is going in the trash."
I do this every spring and fall when I can open the windows and let the breeze blow through, and I wash all the curtains while I am at it. It has worked for 25 years of marriage, and 12 moves, so I guess it is a good system. Oh, and while you are at it, the junk drawer in the kitchen...open up that trash bag, pull out that drawer, and dump it! Don't even look in it. I guarantee, you will have it refilled in two weeks to a month!
Every month or so the kids go through and pick some toys they do not play with anymore, I get clothes that do not fit them anymore, and my husband and I go through clothes, shoes, and accessories that we do not wear anymore, and we go donate.
About every three months I go through the clothes/toys/books. I give everything to a shelter for abused children.
I donate our old clothing to a church in my area that gives the clothes out to the homeless. They take bags and bags of clothes to the park and hand them out to the homeless, so I just take them straight to the park on Friday if I have any.
We have a two-phase donation station by our closet - we take the stuff to a consignment store first, and then donate the rest! It has gotten us into a better habit of clearing stuff out, knowing that we could make $25 off every bag!
Have you thought about donating to a women's shelter or a rape crisis shelter where women just up and leave abusive relationships with just what they have on their backs? These centers really do help those less fortunate than others. I know from experience.
I am not able to leave stuff that I plan on donating around for very long so I clean one room out at a time, fill up a few bags or boxes, and then donate it that night. Otherwise I, or the kids, will start going through the stuff and decide we can't live without it.
We try to donate stuff as we go through each room. If I set up a donation area, the stuff collects for way too long. I have to do it right now or be surrounded by more clutter.
When I clean an area, I stack the donation stuff by the back door. When I'm done, I take it to the garage. I have a donation area out there. I keep broken down boxes out there, and fill them as needed. When I know I'll be passing by the thrift store, I throw the stuff in my trunk, drive by, and drop it off.
We usually do a keep, trash, and donate pile in the garage because that's where we move everything when we are cleaning.
I try to purge my home of unused items/clothes/shoes etc. every 3-6 months.
I have a donation station set up. It helps me out a lot and in return, my house doesn't get over-cluttered. Then, when my boxes are full, I donate them.
Have you ever heard of a group called Freecycle? It is a recycling group where you can give your usable stuff away and you can also receive stuff you are looking for. Go to freecycle.com and look for the group in your area. Join the group and have fun. They keep usable stuff from going to the landfill. I am in my hometown group and it is great.
Instead of donating, since thrift stores around here are high, I do a yard sale so the people that need it can get it, plus I make a little money in the process.
Every two months we go through our stuff and purge it. If it's broken we trash it. If it never gets played with we donate it. Clothes that don't fit anymore get boxed up and I have friends and family that pick out what they can use, the rest gets donated to a local charity.