Where the Wild (Stuffed) Things Are

Tasia Leslie

As I was cleaning Logan’s room over the weekend (a dreaded chore built out of necessity of the Bedtime Trade Agreement – read about it here), I had a sudden realization that this kid has acquired A LOT of stuffed animals in his short 4 years of life. It seems like for every birthday, holiday, and just everyday gifts, he would get at least one. And why not? They were such a simple gift that was guaranteed to put a huge smile on his face.

With our newest addition arriving in a few short weeks, I started unpacking all the baby stuff that had been sitting in storage. I hadn’t realized how much we had acquired and how much hadn’t even been used. The baby gear and clothes paired with Logan’s toys has me overwhelmed and getting me into the mindset of decluttering BIG TIME.

I will say, it can be hard to get rid of old things. You think it’s hard for us adults? It’s even harder for little ones. There comes a point though where the decluttering must happen, whether to make room for new things or just to make room in general. To make it easier on your child, and the planet, you will want to donate rather than trash everything.

When you get your kids involved in decluttering and the donation process, you’re showing them that their unwanted or unneeded items are going to someone else who would love them, and it can make it a less painful process. By decluttering, you will end up with a much happier kid. Every single time I clean up and declutter Logan’s room he loves the look of his room and he ends up sleeping better. However, it can be a little tricky to figure out exactly how to get going with a donation, so I’ve compiled some of the best ways to do it!

What to Tell Your Child When Choosing to Donate Toys:

Be open and honest with your child about the need to declutter and donate. Tricking them or slowly trashing their toys without their knowledge will be a lot more traumatic in the long run. Plus, this is an easy first lesson about community service and charity work. Explain to them where their toys are going and how they will be loved by another kid.
Another great strategy is talking through the memories of each stuffed animal (or toy) with your child, like where they got it and why they love it so much. Remind them that they can still keep these memories and by decluttering, they are opening up room for new memories.

Best Places to Donate Toys:

Local Shelters
Donating to a shelter near you will help a child who may be experiencing a lot of instability find some comfort. Their new stuffed animal friend can go through all the new changes with them, making things a little less scary.

On this note: if your child is a huge animal lover like mine – also consider animal shelters for stuffed animals that may be stained or matted. Many animal shelters will take stuffed animals as comfort items and toys for dogs. Additional items like old blankets and towels are also always in high demand.

Children’s Homes
The same thing above goes for any children’s homes that may be near you. Having toys around can make everything feel more familiar with big changes.

Preschools and Daycares
Many preschools and daycares greatly appreciate toy donations, including stuffed animals. Give them a call and let them know what you have to see if they would have a use for them.

Local Hospitals
There is no saying whether the hospital near you accepts toys. It’s a 50/50 chance. When in doubt, just give them a call. They probably do have a strict sanitation rule, but if you have very gently used toys, or toys that are unopened, this can be a great place to donate.

Social Services
Social services can use your donated stuffed animals to bring kids comfort in some very uncertain and scary situations. You can also ask your local Social Services if they know of any foster families or struggling families in need of some toys.

Buy Nothing/Sell Nothing Facebook Groups
There is no guarantee with this option that your items would be going to a family in need, but it is an option for those who are on social media. You can specify that you’d like your items to go to a family in need to see who reaches out. Many times single parents or those who are financially unable to give their child(ren) everything they want or need search these sites for gifts and essentials in order to make ends meet.

5 Easy Steps for Donating

  1. Talk to your child about donating
  2. Divide items into Keep, Donate, Trash – if you’re able to let your child be involved in this step, do it! It can be really rewarding for them to be a part of the process of choosing what to donate.
  3. After you’ve made your piles, double check that everything is where you’d like it to be. Let them make any last minute decisions between the keep and donate piles.
  4. Find one or two places to donate your things to. Make sure to check all their guidelines and only bring things that are in good condition.
  5. Head out as a family to the donation place of your choosing. It can be really fun to do this together. Stop for a treat afterwards as a reward for doing your good deed!

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