I love spring cleaning. Okay, that isn’t exactly true, but I love the decluttering of the corners of my home, and the positive impact the removal of excess “stuff” has on our lives. In a society where there is so much emphasis placed on things, why does it feel so darn good to get rid of stuff that we don’t need? I’m certain part of it is the mental energy and stresses that comes from excess, like that feeling when we finally get rid of that blouse that we bought on sale but never ever wear. Decluttering has other benefits including: helping with allergies, allowing you to better organize other facets of your life, and it even increases productivity. Decluttering can also become an exercise in teaching your children some valuable lessons about recycling, up-cycling, and even charity.
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Each and every season, and sometimes in between, my children stretch out of their clothes and it’s time to pass them on to someone new. We have been lucky enough to receive thousands of dollars worth of hand-me-down clothes, toys, and books over the years – and it only makes sense to pay it forward to other families and let the cycle continue. The same can be said for older toys and games that my children are no longer interested in.
The more practical side of me knows that clearing out a few garbage bags full of clothes, whether we’re passing them on to family members and friends, or donating them to charity is a cost effective way to get rid of stuff. The more sentimental side of me takes pride in seeing a niece or family friend toddling around in an outfit that my child once happily wore. That items are being used instead of collecting dust in my garage makes me really happy, and that feeling is contagious.
Regular, scheduled donations in our household have helped my children set priorities of people over things, and have also allowed them to feel the joy of giving when they understand that something they once loved will now be enjoyed by someone else.
Giving can go beyond your wardrobe and can become an excellent way to spend a rainy spring afternoon. Here are some great places to find and reduce clutter, and ways to involve your children:
- Have a dress-up box fashion show
Anything that is too small for regular play use can be donated to a younger child for Halloween, to a local pre-school, or clothing donation centre. Let your kids help you pack up the clothes themselves if they’d like to do so. If they get emotional, show them the photos you took of them in their costumes, so they know they’ll always have these for their memories.
- Go Through All Of The Book Shelves
My kids love to read and be read to. This means they get a lot of reading material for special occasions. Sometimes they get duplicates, and in all honesty we usually keep these to re-gift instead of returning them. Books that they never really got into or have outgrown we donate to local charities, community library boxes, or younger kids we know will love our kids’ old favourites. Don’t forget to look at your own grown-up book shelf too. Are you really going to read that book again? If not, pass it on and make room for your next favourite author.
- Baby Cup Clear-Out
Each season look at all of your bottles, sippy cups, plastic cups and bowls. Recycle the ones in poor condition, and pass on the ones that you won’t need anymore because your child has moved onto “big people” dishes. Look at all that space you found!
- Clean-Out Your Bathroom Cupboard
Remember that stockpile of baby powder and diaper cream you bought? Odds are your four year old isn’t going to need it much anymore. Check expiry dates and, if they’re still good, consider donating to a women’s shelter, daycare, or food bank. Got a breast pump that you aren’t going to use anymore? Connect with your local hospital, lactation consultant, or midwife to see where you can donate it. For those with odds and ends of diapers, there are services that will take partial packages of diapers once your little one has outgrown them. Check online to find one in your community.
What are your family’s best spring cleaning tips?
Sara is a freelance writer, award winning parenting blogger, and public relations specialist from Toronto, Canada. She is mother to fraternal girl/boy twins, loves music, hiking, and offbeat pop culture.