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Toy purge - lightening the load


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I'm having emotional issues deciding what toys to donate & which few to keep. I know the right answer as we've had various threads here on The Hive about this over the years. Just struggling.

These are things that have been in totes & boxes for years, unpacked, sorted, & repacked in the last two years. Obviously the easy decisions happened last time.

Emotional support please! I'm trying to reduce items that are taking up storage that I need for my kids' current interests. Cut it in half, maybe. [With the idea that next time, I can cut it in half again.]

I obviously have issues since I still have my childhood stuffed animals! Hugs & words of encouragement would be appreciated.

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You know, if something gives you joy and evokes tenderness and would make you feel really, really bad if you passed it on, you are perfectly able to hold off and do it later.  Some of those feelings do pass with time.

I actually kept my DD’s infant car seat even though it was useless due to a horrendous car accident, because it quite literally saved her life, and the pattern of the fabric made me feel wonderful because of how it reminded me of her tiny newborn years.  And then later on that feeling subsided and that was a good time to finally get rid of it.

I do think it’s a good idea to keep things displayed or rotating or something, especially if you have quite a few.  That way you can actually enjoy them, and it’s easier to let some go when your abundance is clear.

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I saved specific things that meant so much to ds.  The rest I sold to a family for a small price (very) and gave ds the money.  It was so gratifying to give to the new kids those toys.  They were so happy and grateful and it made me feel so good knowing that little family was going to get so many hours of enjoyment out of those toys, just like ds did.   He had a lot of little animal sets and when the little girl saw them, she was just over the moon excited.  🥰. Anyway, my advice is to pick several things that you want to keep.  The others?  Find the right 'home' for them so that when you do think about not having them anymore, you can feel some joy with the inevitable sadness it brings.   We chose to keep some stuffies (ds's fave stuffy was one of my fave stuffies as a little, too-- he's going into our China cabinet as soon as I get in the attic to retrieve him), legos, Star Wars figures, Thomas the train set, and something else I can't remember.  It's all in the attic.    And yes, big hugs, because frankly, this part of life sucks.  ☹️

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I've done it and I assure you you will be unlikely to even remember what you got rid of.  It's also very nice to have the culled version in a manageable amount that you can go through whenever you want to revisit stored things you decided to keep or when you see the best of the best items displayed in prominent places in your environment. It's a very different feeling enjoying the fruits of your labor rather than feeling like you're "behind" knowing you need to do the job.

If you're planning to donate them, remember this year even more people are struggling and will rely on places that take donations to buy their children Christmas gifts.

Some people like to sort from the top down, asking, "If I could only keep 1, which would I choose?" Then put that in the display/storage area.  With what's left ask, "OK, of these that are left, which would I keep if I could only keep 1 more?" repeating until you have filled your storage/display container and letting the rest go.

Others like to sort from the bottom up, asking things like, "Which of these will I give away." and putting that in the donation container.  Then asking, "Of what's left, which of these will I give away?" and repeating until the display/storage container is full.

Would a 'representative' approach work?  Say your kids loved stuffed animals.  Which 1-3 stuffed animals best represent your favorite memories of your children's childhoods?  Keep those and donate the rest. Do that by type of toy.

Are you using them as visual cues for memories?  Take digital pics of them individually and/or in groups, upload them to an online service that will print them into a hardbound book (with or without you typing a short description of the memory they represent as a caption) and keep the book, not the objects. You can order multiple copies of the book and give them to your kids too.

Would a percentage purge help?  Decide how much you need to reduce them by.  Your example of 50% would mean you can't pick one to keep until you've decided on one to give away. Go through the pile that way so you can do it in small steps. After you pick one to give away, reward yourself by picking one to keep. Repeat until you've gone through them all.

Does a designated, limited space help?  Find a shelf, small bookshelf or curio cabinet, or cedar chest, or footlocker, or whatever to be your treasure box of toy mementos.  When it's full, remove one to get rid of before you can put another on/in to keep. I used my cedar chest that way.  If I couldn't close the lid, I  culled items until it closed. Now there are 5 stacks of items inside that cedar chest-1 stack of mementos that reminds me of each family member and the lid closes. 

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1 hour ago, RootAnn said:

These are things that have been in totes & boxes for years, unpacked, sorted, & repacked in the last two years. Obviously the easy decisions happened last time.

I can make that easy. Donate the totes. Don't look inside, don't ask. Just drop them off and make a child VERY HAPPY. 

If you haven't used them in two years, they're unneeded. Someone else needs them and will be very happy. 

Move on to the next great stage. What are you doing next? 

PS. That's what I'm doing. I'm doing an initial cull of "what if I had another baby" which is highly improbable at my age, and at my next birthday those bins can just GO. 

It does not get easier and you do not get less sentimental. You will never feel ambivalent about them. Let them go while the things still have value to someone else and can bring joy to the next person. It's ok to bless others. Think of kids who are just waiting for a Christmas present to appear via the thrift store and donate.

PPS. I have the toys my MIL sentimentally saved from her kids, and I can tell you they do NOT age well. Donate.

Edited by PeterPan
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For me, I picked one very large shoebox (plastic) for toys for kids 0-4. I filled it with the things that would save well for grandkids.....wooden, nice toys like a few trains + track, a wooden elephant with a pull string, etc. Having one confined space rather than a generic amount worked.

I photographed the rest and then donated it to a women’s/family shelter for their new playroom. I needed to feel good about where it went—that it would bring joy and be well-used.

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A cautionary tale about the idea of throwing away a box that you haven’t looked in in a year.

Ages ago DH and I moved, and we packed and stashed, and moved some of the boxes into the garage in the new place to sort at leisure.  DH had this one ancient photograph that his mother had given him of the old place in Northern Wisconsin that his grandparents or great-grandparents had built when they first arrived from Denmark over 100 years before.  We could not find that photo, and DH did not recall where he had put it.  We opened and closed even the still packed boxes but never saw it.

Time went by, and we unpacked and settled in, but there were still a few boxes in the garage.  So I decided to toss them without looking in them, but then I thought, well, I’ll look through one of them just to get an idea of what is left to sort.  And guess what?  There was that picture.  Right before we sealed that box DH must have slipped the photo into the side edge of it, and we did not see it until we took everything else out.

That was the end of throwing away things without sorting them.

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I can make that easy. Donate the totes. Don't look inside, don't ask. Just drop them off and make a child VERY HAPPY. 

If you haven't used them in two years, they're unneeded. Someone else needs them and will be very happy. 

Move on to the next great stage. What are you doing next? 

PS. That's what I'm doing. I'm doing an initial cull of "what if I had another baby" which is highly improbable at my age, and at my next birthday those bins can just GO. 

It does not get easier and you do not get less sentimental. You will never feel ambivalent about them. Let them go while the things still have value to someone else and can bring joy to the next person. It's ok to bless others. Think of kids who are just waiting for a Christmas present to appear via the thrift store and donate.

PPS. I have the toys my MIL sentimentally saved from her kids, and I can tell you they do NOT age well. Donate.

What didn't age well? 

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49 minutes ago, mommyoffive said:

What didn't age well? 

Might want to flip that and ask what *does* age well. The books are classic, but they didn't age well. The games that were plastic were in good condition but just not interesting to the next generation. Stuffed animals don't age well. Baby clothes don't age well. On and on. 

I've cleaned out my in-laws house and I'm just saying we save way too much. The sentimentality does not go away, so you just have to do it. I'm there now. I've been working on our homeschool/sewing/catchall room from the last 15 years and it's just filled with memories. And to me, if I want to save some cute stupid craft project my dd made when she was 3 and she's now 21, that's my business, fine, so long as I have room and it makes me happy. But if we're asking about toys, I can affirm the value of moving it on. My mother found the same thing. She had a bin of saved toys that my oldest played with. Next grandkid didn't touch them and the 3rd *won't* touch them. You get far enough out that people just really change and move on. 

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25 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Might want to flip that and ask what *does* age well. The books are classic, but they didn't age well. The games that were plastic were in good condition but just not interesting to the next generation. Stuffed animals don't age well. Baby clothes don't age well. On and on. 

I've cleaned out my in-laws house and I'm just saying we save way too much. The sentimentality does not go away, so you just have to do it. I'm there now. I've been working on our homeschool/sewing/catchall room from the last 15 years and it's just filled with memories. And to me, if I want to save some cute stupid craft project my dd made when she was 3 and she's now 21, that's my business, fine, so long as I have room and it makes me happy. But if we're asking about toys, I can affirm the value of moving it on. My mother found the same thing. She had a bin of saved toys that my oldest played with. Next grandkid didn't touch them and the 3rd *won't* touch them. You get far enough out that people just really change and move on. 

Hmm, maybe it is different from person to person?  Or how many generations it is passed down to.  Every toy that my mom saved and then gave to my kids, they have loved to play with.  Legos, dolls, doll houses, doll strollers and furniture.  

I am trying to save the things that were important to them.  So far I think I will be saving Legos, Matchbox cars, American Girl Dolls, trains and wooden tracks.   I wish I could save more of the big things, but I just don't have space to store things big things.  

Edited by mommyoffive
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4 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Stuffed animals don't age well.

Some of mine from childhood got a new life with my kids and one of my brother's, after time at a stuffed animal hospital, got new loving, too. So, my mileage may vary from yours.

Despite my kids saying they didn't want anything in the boxes, both boys  (who are my youngest kids though both over 10) saved a total of three small figures.  

3 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

I assure you you will be unlikely to even remember what you got rid of.

Unfortunately, while I don't remember well, I do remember getting rid of things. I think that's why it is tough for me. But, it needs to be done.

Thanks for the support & advice. The process has started & I have half a box of donations already. Some items are still in the unsure pile. I've quit for the night & will restart fresh tomorrow.

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Just now, mommyoffive said:

trains and wooden tracks

I think these will age well and they're basically gone now, not replaceable.

Legos are going to get dusty, look old. Have you seen old legos? Besides, kids like NEW. Who wants a hand me down doll? I don't care about the old cabbage patch dolls my mother saved. I'm 44 and can buy my own dolls. I buy Disney plush, hahaha.  I do have my china dolls because they were tied to specific events (gift for being in a wedding). But really, kids want new, something of their own. We're becoming so affluent. Even legos, kids want to receive them with the instructions, not just hodgepodge and jumbled. 

I look at my stuff now and I know what I spent, which to me means it's precious, valuable, fun, whatever. But I also think about how people can't look at that bin and go ok 10 lego sets. It's just a jumble. 

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4 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

both boys  (who are my youngest kids though both over 10) saved a total of three small figures.  

That sounds really good!! That's what you like to see, them learning how to whittle it down. Some kids (ahem) really struggle with that.

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5 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

I've quit for the night & will restart fresh tomorrow.

Yup, I work a while, take a break. If I start getting all frazzled, I just take a break. My mind has to be fresh to be decisive and be ok with it. Power shoes, music, chocolate...

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14 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I think these will age well and they're basically gone now, not replaceable.

Legos are going to get dusty, look old. Have you seen old legos? Besides, kids like NEW. Who wants a hand me down doll? I don't care about the old cabbage patch dolls my mother saved. I'm 44 and can buy my own dolls. I buy Disney plush, hahaha.  I do have my china dolls because they were tied to specific events (gift for being in a wedding). But really, kids want new, something of their own. We're becoming so affluent. Even legos, kids want to receive them with the instructions, not just hodgepodge and jumbled. 

I look at my stuff now and I know what I spent, which to me means it's precious, valuable, fun, whatever. But I also think about how people can't look at that bin and go ok 10 lego sets. It's just a jumble. 

Hmm, my kids love my old Legos.  They are all mixed in with all the other Legos at this point and you couldn't tell what was old or new.  Give them a box of random Legos all mixed up and they are so happy pulling things out and finding new treasure, and creating whatever they want instead of predetermined set.    And my kids got lots of my old Cabbage patch dolls and old baby dolls.  They love them.  Especially as young kids wouldn't care or know if it was new or a hand me down at all.  We just got out a dollhouse that the kids got for Christmas years ago.  Dh told them it was mine as a kid. They  had no clue or care.  They have loved it and want to keep it.  Same with the dolls, they loved the ones I had as a kid.  Do they have their own ones?  Yes of course.  I think it is a neat thing to see your kids play with things that you did as a kid.   I would think it is a little history lesson on their parent too.  

I don't look at the value of something I paid for it when getting rid of it or not.  If we used it than the price was worth the play time.  The only time it burns me is when we buy the toys like Tickle me Elmo for a bunch of money and the kids never liked it.  But that doesn't make me want to keep it. 

Some of my family would keep toys from when their adult kids were little, and when my kids come over that is what they play with and they love all these toys that they have never seen before.  All these kinds of toys we don't have. 

Anyway to each their own.  Get rid of all of it, keep it all, or keep some.  Whatever makes you happy and works for you.  I do get rid of lots of stuff, because I don't have room to keep it all.  What is worse to me than toys is the artwork and crafts.  Sooo much when you have kids who love to make things.  I feel bad getting rid of things, but I have kind of come up with my own definitions on what I will keep with crafts and what I won't.  

Edited by mommyoffive
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11 minutes ago, mommyoffive said:

Hmm, maybe it is different from person to person?  Or how many generations it is passed down to.  Every toy that my mom saved and then gave to my kids, they have loved to play with.  Legos, dolls, doll houses, doll strollers and furniture.  

Yeah, it must be. My mom is a throw every thing out person and there are a few things I wish she had saved. Not everything, but a few things I know my kids would have loved. I have ended up buying quite a few vintage fisher price and other items from eBay, because they just don’t make anything like some of those things any more. I have a friend whose kids had some of the same vintage toys I rebought that she had saved from her childhood, and her kids all played with them. So, I think it depends. Sure, if they’re dirty and junky, they’re not worth saving, but if they were loved, are in good shape, and are likely  to be difficult to replace, they might be worth hanging onto.  I inherited a huge plastic tote bin full of jumbled old legos from childhood, and my ds has enjoyed them immensely. It has added so much variety to his collection of pieces. (They aren’t dirty or anything either. Maybe because they were kept in a lidded tote bin). 

6 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I think these will age well and they're basically gone now, not replaceable.

Legos are going to get dusty, look old. Have you seen old legos? Besides, kids like NEW. Who wants a hand me down doll? I don't care about the old cabbage patch dolls my mother saved. I'm 44 and can buy my own dolls. I buy Disney plush, hahaha.  I do have my china dolls because they were tied to specific events (gift for being in a wedding). But really, kids want new, something of their own. We're becoming so affluent. Even legos, kids want to receive them with the instructions, not just hodgepodge and jumbled. 

Obviously this varies kid to kid. (Even on the cabbage patch kid. That’s one of the only things I kept, and he’s still in circulation with my kids’ toys.) My kids actually lament how disappointing  the current fisher price Little People stuff is compared to the older stuff. 

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I think it’s a good idea to be clear on who you are saving things FOR.

I have stuff that I enjoy seeing from my own childhood.  I’m not saving it to be an heirloom, but to enjoy.  If I don’t enjoy it anymore, I’ll either toss it or see if someone else in the family wants to use it, but I’m not going to guilt anyone into taking it ‘because it’s an heirloom’.  

I have sturdy stuff from DD’s childhood that I’m keeping kind of for her until she has her own house.  At that point if she doesn’t want it I’ll decide whether *I* want it, or give it away if she doesn’t want to deal with it.  There are some nice things, like Kapla blocks, a Magic Cabin wooden gnome treehouse, and a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine stuff, that will entertain generations of visiting kids.  I imagine that she will want her 4 best beloved dolls, but she has let the Build a Bears go without a second glance—that has been weirdly hard for me because I remember her kissing their hearts before she put them in, but it’s OK.  Again, none of this stuff is going to be allowed to send out guilt rays.

The stuff I’m saving for myself I really don’t care what happens to it after I’m gone.  I can enjoy it now without feeling frantic about that.  

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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I think these will age well and they're basically gone now, not replaceable.

Legos are going to get dusty, look old. Have you seen old legos? Besides, kids like NEW. Who wants a hand me down doll? I don't care about the old cabbage patch dolls my mother saved. I'm 44 and can buy my own dolls. I buy Disney plush, hahaha.  I do have my china dolls because they were tied to specific events (gift for being in a wedding). But really, kids want new, something of their own. We're becoming so affluent. Even legos, kids want to receive them with the instructions, not just hodgepodge and jumbled. 

I look at my stuff now and I know what I spent, which to me means it's precious, valuable, fun, whatever. But I also think about how people can't look at that bin and go ok 10 lego sets. It's just a jumble. 

Well, I liked playing with my mother's doll and teddy bear. I was pretty excited when my dad pulled my aunts' doll down from the closet for me to play with, too. 🤷‍♀️

And old Lego sets go for money. If you have the instructions, you'll get a lot of cash for old sets. No instructions? They sell by the pound. 🤷‍♀️

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My 15 y.o. just started a business selling his stuff on ebay, craigslist, offer up.  He is very excited to be making good money off of stuff that has been sitting around 10 years or more. For instance, I was really surprised that he recovered about 2/3 of what I put into his four sets of golf clubs.  I was about to give them away or drop off at thrift.  Other things are selling for good prices too.  Now, he money to buy  some very expensive things a teen needs/want.

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14 hours ago, RootAnn said:

I obviously have issues since I still have my childhood stuffed animals! Hugs & words of encouragement would be appreciated

Oh my. This makes me wonder if my DD will actually really keep all of her stuffed animals until/during adulthood. She has hundreds and will *not* discuss purging them.

Back to the original topic—I’m sorry your are struggling.  We just moved and I purged big time. One thing that I have always wanted to keep for future grandchildren is the Elves and Angels play kitchen. Because of the space it takes up, I almost donated it... but stopped myself. I’m glad I did. I look forward to having that for grandchildren someday.  Other than that, I kept the AG dolls. DS still uses his Legos and I’ll leave that up to him someday. I kept very select children’s books but donated a ton—especially those that are readily available at the library. I wish I could purge my kids’ stuffed animals but they won’t hear it. 

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Lots of hugs from here. I need to tackle that project too. My approach for the last 10 years has been to have the girls share a bedroom and i can just close the door on the toys in the other room. However, it has been close to a year since anyone has really gone into that room, so it is time to go do a purge and probably vacuum! Not looking forward to it. I have box of 0-4 toys. I'm hoping I can make a similar box for the next stage. I'll probably need to make a few boxes and then cull them slowly as the years go by. *I* will quickly forget the things that go, but my children remember ev-ry-thing.

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I am not attached to toys and it sometimes scares toy people to see how little we have.  However, maybe my reasoning will help you?

When we have more stuff, my kids play less.  They have a hard time deciding what to play, they get overwhelmed.  Moreover, it is too much for them to care for - things wind up broke or on the floor or I'm frustrated by the mess.

I keep things I love (playsilks) and more open ended toys.  There are things I cannot disconnect from so it has helped to give them to people I love? This may help with some things.  My husband made my Waldorf playstands.  The youngest three have no interest but I couldn't part with them until my daughter wanted them for her kids.  ❤️ I feel the same about an ENORMOUS dollhouse DH made for our little girls.  I consider it permanent basement furniture at this point because I love it so. 

I'd say respect the emotional connection - no mighty purge.  But also recognize the difference between a connection to a THING vs. a connection to a PERSON.  And then try to mediate why you feel the  connection to the thing and if you need to maintain it? Because if I have stuff, I need to take care of stuff.  Shoving it in the corner isn't doing that.... And there's a max we can care for before it becomes a burden rather than a blessing.  For me, I know right now I am able to get rid of things, lighten DH's load in the future, so I don't want to hold onto stuff that then becomes a burden to him, kwiM?

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3 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

more open ended toys.

Can I pick your brain? What about Playmobil? We have scads of it, because I was crazy (yeah) and because I was constantly keeping him stocked with new things to take to speech therapy. Or he'd get a set as a reward for finishing a level of Barton. Or christmas. You get the drift. 

Right now it's all jumbled in bins and he plays with some of it creatively using the parts to stage battles and wars. He's even beginning to outgrow that. I did a pull, where I just separated out bins and put them in a side/storage space. So he's definitely not "using" all of it. 

Would you KEEP Playmobil (because of course it's the most wonderful thing ever) or sell or donate? Or keep a little and sell/donate a lot? Something else? Since you have grandkids, does it fall in the category of save for grandkids?

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6 hours ago, gstharr said:

My 15 y.o. just started a business selling his stuff on ebay, craigslist, offer up.  He is very excited to be making good money off of stuff that has been sitting around 10 years or more. For instance, I was really surprised that he recovered about 2/3 of what I put into his four sets of golf clubs.  I was about to give them away or drop off at thrift.  Other things are selling for good prices too.  Now, he money to buy  some very expensive things a teen needs/want.

 

My son is doing something similar. He is selling their old toys that are collector's items on Ebay (using my account) and doing quite well. I would not have been able to do all he has done from a time or expertise perspective (some were Mega Bloks sets). It has given him extra money to put toward some future purchase, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how well he has done.

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30 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Would you KEEP Playmobil (because of course it's the most wonderful thing ever) or sell or donate? Or keep a little and sell/donate a lot? Something else? Since you have grandkids, does it fall in the category of save for grandkids?

I would, but I am probably a bad person to post on this thread.  😃  I am planning to keep all our regular Legos, if possible, unless the boys decide to group and sell some of them to have more pocket money.

I did get rid of our Thomas trains years ago (sold them). I worry I will regret that, but they took up so much space.  Now we have Nerf guns that take up far more space than those ever did. 😃

My brother was trying to convince me yesterday that  I can sell our Duplos and just buy new when we have grandkids. And that my kids will actually want to buy their kids toys and not just inherit all our old stuff. LOL.

OP, I agree that this can be hard. For a long time we had a group of families that met at our house for Bible study, so I held onto toys that were for younger kids so that we would have something for the other children to play with. We stopped hosting years ago but I still never got rid of the toys (like play food, a grocery cart, etc. ) The way I was raised was you don't get rid of things that are in good shape and that you might use.  I told myself I would be upset if I have to rebuy it years from now for my grandkids.   Unfortunately I don't have unlimited space and ultimately the clutter does affect me when I have to look at it.  Just yesterday I posted some of this on FB for free (for my neighborhood) and some people took it for preschool or play therapy. I felt good about where it ended up.  And the way 2020 has gone, it just did my heart more good to give it to individuals than to just load it in my car and drop it at the thrift store. 

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1 minute ago, cintinative said:

Now we have Nerf guns that take up far more space than those ever did. 😃

I know, lol. And ds has gone through these stages, from gentle nerf to Rival now to these ones that fire special short dots at super high velocities. I suggested to him that he *declutter* some to make room for the new types, and he was horrified, lol.

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2 minutes ago, cintinative said:

My brother was trying to convince me yesterday that  I can sell our Duplos and just buy new when we have grandkids. And that my kids will actually want to buy their kids toys and not just inherit all our old stuff. LOL.

Well I agree with him on the duplos, but, shhh, they're in a bin to keep around. When someone comes over with kids, they're pretty universal. But yeah, to keep for grandkids, so unnecessary. They are abundant, cheap, and nice and clean when new.

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52 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Would you KEEP Playmobil (because of course it's the most wonderful thing ever) or sell or donate? Or keep a little and sell/donate a lot? Something else? Since you have grandkids, does it fall in the category of save for grandkids?

I donated tons of amazing playmobile and haven't looked back. 

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1 minute ago, kristin0713 said:

I donated tons of amazing playmobile and haven't looked back. 

This makes me feel good! I find myself less sentimental about it, so I probably could. Did you divide it into sets or just lump it? We have so much weirdness with forts and boats and stuff. And the thing is, dc plays with parts. He has autism, lol. So he would take the walls for a fort and use them for something entirely different! But for some more NT dc to receive it and then try to piece back together how it was meant to be played, what a mess.

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Just now, PeterPan said:

This makes me feel good! I find myself less sentimental about it, so I probably could. Did you divide it into sets or just lump it? We have so much weirdness with forts and boats and stuff. And the thing is, dc plays with parts. He has autism, lol. So he would take the walls for a fort and use them for something entirely different! But for some more NT dc to receive it and then try to piece back together how it was meant to be played, what a mess.

I divided it into sets.  We had a huge castle with LOTS of knights, horses, etc.  Also had a farm set and a then one or two other smaller sets.  I gave it to the children's ministry at our church and they were THRILLED.

I recently donated a huge lot of Littlest Pet Shop to a local organization called Safe Harbor that supervises court ordered parent-child visitations.  They were so, so happy.  

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I sorted two bins of stuffed animals into Keep & Donate. Then, I asked my kids that were home to go through my donate pile for ones they wanted to keep. I got something I didn't expect. They brought me some stuffed animals in their rooms to donate and a few they'd like to keep (in a rotation). So now I have one bin (half of the beginning pile) to keep & a big trash bag worth to donate (almost twice the original pile). College girl comes home next week & I'll keep the donation pile long enough for her to look through it. Who knows, she might add to the donation pile from what is still in her room.

Onward!

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One thing that makes getting things ‘placed’ instead of tossed or thrifted locally easier is a Buy Nothing list.  People post their stuff on it with pictures, and others ask for it and you know that someone is getting it who really will use it.  That can feel better to people than the more anonymous donating.

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Just now, Carol in Cal. said:

One thing that makes getting things ‘placed’ instead of tossed or thrifted locally easier is a Buy Nothing list.  People post their stuff on it with pictures, and others ask for it and you know that someone is getting it who really will use it.  That can feel better to people than the more anonymous donating.

Is this on FB? How do I find it? There used to be freecycle here but I don't know what happened to it. It was on Yahoo and Yahoo groups are now (or will be) extinct.

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I boxed up and put stuff in 3 categories. The stuff I was totally ok with getting rid of went immediately to goodwill. The stuff I knew I was keeping for my grandkids to play with when they visit (Legos, dollhouse, kitchen set, wooden train set) got put in one part of the closet. The 3rd category I was ambivalent about. I knew I probably wouldn't want it for grandkids but I also wasn't really ready to let go of it either. That category went into storage and I waited to see how I felt about getting rid of it once it wasn't so fresh. It sounds like you're there now and still not ready. That's ok too!

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One other thing to keep in mind is a sense of degrees.  Calibration is an important part of emotional health. When deciding on keeping an object because someone who doesn't exist yet might want or use it in the future, carefully calibrate what not having it will mean to them.  Will they be heartbroken?  Will they agonize over not having it?  Will you? Or will they be mildly disappointed in the moment and think, "Huh.  That would've been nice to have now, too bad Mom didn't keep it." and then not think about it again. Or if you're keeping it for yourself, what are the odds you'll experience a deep and abiding sense of loss if donated it and want it later?

Sometimes people can't get rid of things because they catastrophize in their minds giving it away, when in reality when the future situation comes to fruition, it will be a far less intense reaction than they imagined.  So ask yourself to play out the future scenario in your head like a movie when the person who doesn't exist yet somehow discovers that at one point in the past you owned an object that you donated to people who didn't much access to objects.  What exactly do you think their reaction is going to be?  Role play  in your head how you would react if you discovered your parent owned an object before you existed and donated it.  Are you upset about that? Why or why not? How did you feel when you had children and your parents didn't save any of your objects to give their future grandchildren.  Were you upset? If your parents did save their toy their toy from their childhoods to you would your childhood be less happy over all if they hadn't?  Would you have felt a sense of deprivation and loss that would significantly affect you because they donated it?

So let's not turn these into high stakes decisions when they really aren't.  Yes, it might be very nice to have things to hand down, and the kids and grandkids might really get a kick out of them, but if you get rid of something they might have enjoyed, they won't be worse off for it.

So here's a way to evaluate the extremes of a decision:

1.  What is the best case scenario if I do this?
2. What is the worst case scenario if I do this?
3. What is the best case scenario if I don't do this?
4. What is the worst case scenario if I don't do this?

We're talking about keeping toys, not deciding whether or not to have potentially  life threatening surgery for a life threatening condition. Most people don't get their parents' childhood toys.  Most people don't keep their own childhood toys. Their lives are full and rich and full of memories and relationships in spite of it. So take the pressure off of yourself about the risk of donating something you might later would prefer to have.

That's not me saying get rid of everything. It's me saying be realistic about the consequences-there are not significant consequences.

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48 minutes ago, katilac said:

I just got rid of of our K'nex (we only had 3 sets) and it was harder than it should have been, lol. 

Oh my, don't even bring that up. I have regular and the thinner kind, education sets, sets I bought for high school science... That should probably go to a school and be done with it. But that's a good point that in a few years I could.

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11 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

what are the odds you'll experience a deep and abiding sense of loss if donated it and want it later?

The flip side on this, for me, was realizing that holding onto things was holding onto the *past* instead of embracing the *future*. I've been so all in on my kids, homeschooling, homemaking, and it's very hard to think about it as past. I mean, we could foster like some people, but my ds really does require attention and energy. 

So it's the loss if you do but even more loss and sadness sometimes if you DON'T donate. Letting things go, like my dd's beautiful Hanna Andersson dresses (yes, I saved these), toys, it's all just part of that process of repurposing rooms and moving on.

I love how @RootAnn is working it out btw. Sounds like it's working out great for her. 

Edited by PeterPan
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I have saved a few stuffed animals and board books. The talking Elmo, a Barney, and the very first thing my mother bought for my oldest when I was pregnant. Now that child has a baby and I’ve brought them out again. It’s nice to see them loved again, especially since my mother died years ago.

I have also saved a huge wooden train track set, I can’t remember the brand now lol, and legos. Lots of legos. 

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