I am going to have to declutter my kids stuff without their permission. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hate to do this to my kids, but we are moving soon and need to have a garage sale soon. I have tried as gently as possible to help them declutter their things, but they just wont cooperate. (6 and 4 yrs old)

I am sad but I think I am going to have to decide what to keep for them - and I really don't want to.

Anyone know how to feel better about this? I feel sad.

Garage sale day is going to suck.
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#2 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 01:34 PM
 
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I am so sorry. That sounds rough. Can you try less gentle terms? Maybe hand each a bag or a box and tell them to pick their must-haves? That age is really hard for them to grasp the complexities of moving and decluttering over their love of Their Things.

Maybe when you set up the sale, you can give them each an opportunity to get their most favorite bits back?

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#3 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe when you set up the sale, you can give them each an opportunity to get their most favorite bits back?
Yes I might give some money to shop at our sale or something. That is a good idea. They can be my first customers.

But it feels like such a desperate survuval mode thing like "OMG those are my THINGS!!!" Panic! Horror!

I am having a really hard time with those feelings that i feel coming from my children.
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#4 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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Hmmm. Can they keep some of the sales proceeds and use them to decorate their new place? Not sure if the 4 year old would get that, but the 6 year old might be able to and her/his enthusiasm could catch on.

I use the not always popular but often effective tool of paying my kids to declutter ($1 or 2 a bag/box). We don't do garage sales (I just can't get organized or enthused enough) but we do swap, hand down, donate to the charities of their choice on a regular basis. I haven't really had that much opposition from them---probably because my oldest enjoys the process and his enthusiasm has always gotten his sisters on board.

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#5 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 01:46 PM
 
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I'd tell them that some things absolutely have to go, but I'd let them pick the things and sell them themselves at the yard sale.

I can't imagine how upset my kids would be if they saw their things up for sale at a yard sale.
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#6 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd tell them that some things absolutely have to go, but I'd let them pick the things and sell them themselves at the yard sale.

I can't imagine how upset my kids would be if they saw their things up for sale at a yard sale.
I have given them the option - we have been working on this for a month, and they refuse to let anything go. Our home is overrun with toys. They are exploding out the windows.

I have done my best to be respectful and understanding of their feelings but the real life fact is that we are not going to have 30 boxes od toys to truck across the country. It will cost us too much extra money, and will not fit into our new house.
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#7 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 02:09 PM
 
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I hear you...they don't really get it and now are looking at you with big eyes but moooommmmyyyyy thats myyyyy....

I noticed with my daugther that it was not a task she could do on her own...still can't at 11 years old. You have to help them go thru the things.

Now having said that when she was small and we had to move, I took a day when she was away from home and I went thru the things that she hardly ever used. Barely remembered unless you brought it to her attention and I culled from there. I found there were many things that had been forgotten or not played iwth for ages. But if you ASK her, omg, I have to keep that. do you see?

So then the more obvious things that they play with or use all the time are able to come along because you have culled away the other stuff. Some may say that is deceitful but well..Im not sure a 4 year old can really let it go you know?
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#8 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 02:17 PM
 
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Well, if you decide to do this without their permission, I think it might be better to just donate their items so they don't have to see them at the garage sale. I think that would be harder on them.
Or, they might like the idea of making cold, hard cash, lol.

I completely understand, my older dd has always had the hardest time letting go of ANYTHING. She has actually started doing better in the last year or so as she finally sees the logic of "too much stuff = hard as heck to keep room clean for friend visits". She's eleven. So there's hope!

My sister cleaned out a trailer full of toys from her boys' rooms, they call the upstairs of their home "Toy Heaven". The boys, ages 8 and 4, never even noticed. It's been about 3 months. I think they have mentioned a missing toy here and there but it's been no big deal.
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#9 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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Is the garage sale mandatory? It seems to me that donating their things might be easier on them than watching people pick through them, possibly sneer at them, bargain you down, and so on. If they're donated, they can maintain the shiny illusion that other children will respect and play with their toys, and they can feel generous.

And if you donate, it's _over with_ in a very short period of time, instead of them watching their toys bleed away one by one. Also, if anything doesn't sell at the garage sale, you'll have to fight with them _again_, because they'll campaign to keep them.

So I'd recommend a quick donation.

On choosing what to donate, one thought, that you may have already tried, is to pack them _all_ into boxes labelled "Charity", present the kids with two or five or however many empty boxes each with their own names on them, and let them pick that volume of items out of the Charity boxes. Maybe having their stuff in boxes would communicate that yes, this _is_ happening? And that way, their actions would be to rescue toys instead of condemn them.

It also might help a little for them to see what things of your own you're getting rid of - kitchenware, clothes, books, whatever. If they understand that _your_ toys are also going away, they'll still be upset, but the resentment might not last as long.

Another thought, that I think I like better: You could, instead, pack both the Charity boxes _and_ their boxes, based on what you think they're most attached to. Then, once you've packed them and know what fits in them, you could temporarily unpack their boxes onto the shelves in your current home and let them play with just those toys while you're getting ready to move.

Then you hide the Charity boxes away somewhere inaccessible to them. If they want a toy back from the Charity boxes, they bring you a toy of a similar size to swap for it. A day or two before the move, you finally actually take the Charity boxes to charity - and you make sure that they know exactly when the boxes are going, and when it's too late for any more swaps.

If they don't swap, they go with your decision, and they may actually need that - they may need the responsibility to be yours, rather than theirs. To you, these are things; to them, they're friends, and they may need someone else to be responsible for throwing their friends out of the lifeboat, so to speak.

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#10 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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One thing that seems to get through to my kiddos (4 and 7) is reasoning with them to a point - I tell them that #1 we do not have the space; #2 they need to get rid of the things they do not want and play with - there are other children who have very little that we can share with, and those children might actually play with these ignored toys, and #3 if they choose to sell, whatever money they make, they get to use to buy a new toy (I figure 20-25 things out per 1 new item in is worth it!).

If worse comes to worse, box the ignored items up, leave it boxed until right before you move. If they do not miss the toys, donate them. Oh, and I always have a little toy at the new house for my kiddos (we move all over the place as well!) - and it typically helps them forget the old stuff from the old house!

Best of luck!!
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#11 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 05:08 PM
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Huh. I always gave my kid whatever money we got from her stuff when we sold it at yard sales. Not to convince her, but because, well, it was her stuff.... then again, I can't imagine just taking her stuff without her okay, either. I guess it's a different way of viewing ownership?

Anyway, what worked best for me when my daughter was little was to sit down and go through every single thing she owned, one by one, with Keep, YardSale, and Throw Away bags or piles, and asking her to make a choice for each thing. Somehow that made it easier for her to decide that she didn't need everything...

 
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#12 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yeah - my kids have already decided what they are buying with the money from the garage sale. Zhu Zhu pets. All planned out. they get ALL profits from whatever they sell.
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#13 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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Zhu Zhu Pets, huh? At least they are pretty small, tee hee!
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#14 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 05:36 PM
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yeah - my kids have already decided what they are buying with the money from the garage sale. Zhu Zhu pets. All planned out. they get ALL profits from whatever they sell.
Oh, cool! I'm sorry I misunderstood.

I really, really want a zhu zhu pet. Don't laugh at me.

 
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#15 of 35 Old 06-01-2010, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Zhu Zhu Pets, huh? At least they are pretty small, tee hee!
oh and "Ninja Zhu Zhu" pets for my 7 yr old boy. I thought that was BRILLIANT marketing.
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#16 of 35 Old 06-02-2010, 03:33 AM
 
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My mom had to do this to one of my siblings, using a black bag as fast as possible then donating.

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#17 of 35 Old 06-02-2010, 08:28 AM
 
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What works for me with my four year old dd is to bag up random stuff that I know she hasn't touched in a long time, and put that in the closet for a while. It usually gets donated, and if she happens to see the bag and its contents, I tell her exactly what it is and she is always okay with donating it to kids who need these things more than she does.

The biggest thing that works though (and for myself as well!) is whenever we start cleaning up stuff or just feel in the mood for it, I pick up a "something" that I'm sure she hasn't messed with for a while and say, "Does this make you happy? Or do you not like it?" And doing it that way makes it easy and simple for us.

I use the same tool when I'm going through my own things, because I don't want anything in my home that doesn't make me happy (of my own things, of course). I just look at something and asking myself if it makes me happy or not is extremely easy, because it either does or it doesn't. There are some things used often that don't make me happy because I don't love them, but I know what they are and plan to replace them someday, and that's no big deal to me (like new kitchen towels or hangers, etc. - but those things have a set home, and that makes all the difference, doesn't it? No wonder I don't mind, heh).

Hope this helps a little. Everything will be just fine. You care about your kids and that's all that matters, imo (considering my childhood). When you have parents that don't care about you at all- Then it's a big deal.

 
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#18 of 35 Old 06-02-2010, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What works for me with my four year old dd is to bag up random stuff that I know she hasn't touched in a long time, and put that in the closet for a while. It usually gets donated, and if she happens to see the bag and its contents, I tell her exactly what it is and she is always okay with donating it to kids who need these things more than she does.
.
You know, I have been doing this consistantly for about the last year and once a month - in the garage, or a closet, or wherever I put the boxes or bags the kids get into them during a moment when I am on the toilet or something and tear through the toys like its xmas.

"MOM! LOOK WHAT WE FOUND!!!!"
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#19 of 35 Old 06-02-2010, 06:33 PM
 
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Last summer we had to downsize the toys. I put all of them in one area and had them pick a set number, like 20. (I have 4 kids so this is still a lot)
Then I told them we could not take anymore than that with us, but that they were in charge of the toy table at the garage sale. They decorated the sign for the table, arranged the toys, and collected the money. We chose easy amounts like a quarter or a dollar. We also gave each a little tin so when their own toy sold they collected the money. If they have a hard time, I would let them know you will sell the stuff, and tell them they can pick out a new toy with the money. This seems strange, but one time we donated over 100 toys and the 4 that replaced it were no big deal. Hope this helps
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#20 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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I am going to declutter my kids' room as soon as I'm on summer break, and I'm not going to let them help me.
Most of the stuff that I am going to donate or box up is not precious to them anyway, but I don't really expect them to have the ability to make clear decisions at their ages about what is really played with and what is just "clutter" in their room and actually PREVENTING them from playing due to all the chaos and clutter and mess. So I don't feel bad about doing it without them present (as I've tried to do it before with them and it rarely gets pared down enough to make a dent in the clutter)....they are 7 and 6 years old and I kind of wonder if they will even notice. I plan to keep the "what-if-they-ask-me-about-this-toy-later" items stowed away in the attic for a bit before donating, but I'm sure there is lots of junk in their room that I can be confident they aren't going to miss. I just want them to be able to play with the nice things they do have, and clear out the stuff that prevents that from happening.

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#21 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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I have not read all the replies so I apologize if this is not "new". I have the same problem with my 4 and 6 year old kids. I participated in a large rummage sale, and I knew awhile ago when it was going to be. I started collecting their less-favorite toys, games, books in a box without telling them and of course they didn't even notice.

At the sale, unfortunately I had to have them with me. So I told them what was going on, and that we needed to get rid of outgrown toys and books to make room for new ones. I allowed them up to 2 items each to keep, should they see something of theirs they just couldn't let go of. I also allowed them each to buy 2 new-to-us items in exchange for letting all their old stuff go. Worked great. I expected serious complaints or whining for more stuff, and got none. A couple of toys and games I really thought my 4 yo would have fits over selling, but she just told me she was "fine with it" as she carried around a new stuffie she found.

Good luck. I hope you find a plan that works for you.
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#22 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 02:44 AM
 
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We were able to declutter DD's room by 50% after MONTHS of struggling with her. It did result in a few tears but nothing horrid or long lasting. First she picked a toy/item she wanted. Then she had to pick one to donate/sell/whatever. Then a toy to keep-then a toy to donate/sell. And on and on. The alternating between keep and not-keep kept it from being torture but we did manage to get the clutter down considerably. Hope that helps a little?

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#23 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 08:31 AM
 
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Laura, I agree with you about too much clutter preventing children from playing! My 1st grade son and I went through his room (this was after I did a haul-off myself a few weeks prior, which he NEVER noticed) and now that we have gotten his toys down to fewer categories and fewer things in each category (though still not perfect), he is playing with his things more.

Now if only my daughter's doll stuff (the 18" ones) were smaller and required less space like the smaller toys my son plays with, lol!
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#24 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am going to declutter my kids' room as soon as I'm on summer break, and I'm not going to let them help me.
Most of the stuff that I am going to donate or box up is not precious to them anyway, but I don't really expect them to have the ability to make clear decisions at their ages about what is really played with and what is just "clutter" in their room and actually PREVENTING them from playing due to all the chaos and clutter and mess. So I don't feel bad about doing it without them present (as I've tried to do it before with them and it rarely gets pared down enough to make a dent in the clutter)....they are 7 and 6 years old and I kind of wonder if they will even notice. I plan to keep the "what-if-they-ask-me-about-this-toy-later" items stowed away in the attic for a bit before donating, but I'm sure there is lots of junk in their room that I can be confident they aren't going to miss. I just want them to be able to play with the nice things they do have, and clear out the stuff that prevents that from happening.
That is EXACTLY where I am. Thank you.
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#25 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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One thing that seems to get through to my kiddos (4 and 7) is reasoning with them to a point - I tell them that #1 we do not have the space; #2 they need to get rid of the things they do not want and play with - there are other children who have very little that we can share with, and those children might actually play with these ignored toys.
Yes and yes. At 11 and 4 my kids really understand these two things as well. My DD(11) just went through a bunch of her old made at school books all on her own and cut them down to a third! I am happy that she is able to reason that she has outgrown the subject matter and just because they made it at school she doesn't have to keep it forever.
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#26 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 07:32 PM
 
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DS is 3.5, so he's not that old. I declutter half with his help, and half without his help. Lots of stuff he never plays with but he would be upset to know it was going. However, once it's gone, he'll never ask for it again. If it's something that he'll notice, then I let him have some say in the matter...I'll let him pick which of two things stays, for example. Or, I'll empty out a box of his stuff and I'll tell him he can keep 10 things from that box, or whatever. He knows what he loves and what he doesn't care about, he just needs a push, and to be reminded that lots of kids don't have toys and that there's no reason for us to keep things we don't love and use often.

FWIW, we've been decluttering HARD CORE for the last month or so, and DS has started suggesting giving away some things "to kids who don't have any toys" just randomly. He'll sort out toys into groups while playing with them, and then the ones he doesn't love he suggests giving away. I'm very proud of him, and glad that he's coming around since he was VERY against the idea of getting rid of any of his things when we started.

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#27 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 08:29 PM
 
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This is a difficult thing for me because the toys are almost all "everybody's toys" so we'd need to get a consensus on what to keep and what to dump... *sigh* It makes it easier when they're fighting over a toy, to be able to tell them "no, they're everybody's toys so either play together or take turns..." though.

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#28 of 35 Old 06-06-2010, 09:26 PM
 
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You know, I have been doing this consistantly for about the last year and once a month - in the garage, or a closet, or wherever I put the boxes or bags the kids get into them during a moment when I am on the toilet or something and tear through the toys like its xmas.

"MOM! LOOK WHAT WE FOUND!!!!"
Tape the box and label it "Happydance's old jeans for Goodwill"?
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#29 of 35 Old 06-07-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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I just did a big declutter of toys from the Living Room today. Ds (6) is ok with it in general... he likes the idea that we are giving to a place where people can buy his toys cheap, and if I talk to him about how he never plays with that toy, he is glad to give it to people who will.

My 3 year old was a different story, though. She was in tears, sobbing and yelling about anything I wanted to get rid of. I was at a loss at first of how to meet both our needs (mine to clean out my house, hers to not have to get rid of things she wanted to keep). Finally, we came to an agreement. I made a big pile of things that I wanted to get rid of (while she watched a movie). When I was done making the pile, she got to go pick 5 things out of it that she didn't want to go. I was sort of surprised that this worked for her, but it did. When it was time for her to pick out stuff, she picked out 7 things to keep and was ok with my getting rid of the other stuff.

A yard sale absolutely would not work for my kids. It would be too hard for them to see their stuff slowly going. I even find that hard, and I LOVE getting rid of stuff. Now that the kids are in bed, I will pack up all the get rid of stuff and put it in the trunk, then have dh take it to a thrift store tomorrow without the kids. Much easier for them and us that way.
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#30 of 35 Old 06-07-2010, 01:04 AM
 
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when i declutter my daughters toys i do it when she is not in the house. I take the things she doesn't play with and move them to the garage. She is none the wiser.

Honestly, she is to young to really understand why we are doing this and just wants to keep everything. If she doesn't see me taking it, she doesn't think about it.

Also, if you want to have a garage sale with their things, have them away from teh house when you do it.

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