Time to Let Go by Margaret Hart

As moms, we all save things having to do with our kids: things they make, things they write, favorite clothing they have worn as a child, special toys and books, and sentimental items. I find it interesting to learn from other moms what they save, and what they get rid of, and when. Are there rules of thumb for when and how you decide what gets saved, what gets donated, what gets tossed, what gets given away, and what gets sold at a tag sale or consignment store?

Every mom has her reasons for holding onto things. Some plan for more children. Others plan to pass items along to younger siblings when they have children. Others like to hold onto special toys to pass to grandchildren. Some moms are like pack rats, and just want to save everything.

I know of one mom who has held onto toys her kids played with when they were babies. I have heard from reliable sources who have seen her house, that her basement, attic and one entire bay of her three-car garage, are filled from floor to ceiling with storage bins filled with kid stuff. And all her kids are in college. So maybe she’s saving it for their kids?

When I heard about that mom, I figured I still had some time. I’m not quite at the stage of reality TV featuring “hoarders.” While I do have way too many things I’ve been holding onto, I have good reasons. Like many moms, I began by holding onto baby things thinking we’d add to our family quickly. As time went by, baby stuff was replaced by toddler stuff, and then preschool stuff, and then little kid stuff, and before I knew it, my basement had become a virtual kid store with an A to Z selection of all things kids. I didn’t want to let go because, well, you never know.

Over the years I have given away many baby and kid items to new-mom friends, families in need, local women’s shelters, and others. I’ve even consigned some clothing at a local consignment store, but I still have way too much. I, too, have storage bins filled with clothing and toys from birth to eight. It’s at the point where neighborhood children come over our house and beg to “go down to the basement,” in the hopes my son will let them go home with a new toy.

I’d recently grown weary from my husband nagging me to get rid of things. And I knew it was time for some serious purging. Still, I was holding out hope for another child to play with the toys and wear the clothing I have saved all these years. But, for now, it’s time to let go.

Luckily, I heard about a couple of women entrepreneurs running a large, local consignment sale where you can bring almost anything to consign (with the exception of recalls and cribs) from birth to size 14, and you get 60 o 70 percent of what the items sells for. I did some research and decided to give it a try.

There was a lot of organization and detail work required on the front end, but once I got all my supplies and organized my items, I was able to quickly and easily enter all my items into an online sales management website. The site was very easy to use and provided convenient drop down menus with categories ranging from clothing to books, to baby gear, to furniture, to toys, and almost everything else you can imagine. I was able to just click boxes to describe my items in terms of sizes, gender, price, age range, and even write my own descriptions in blank spaces provided.

After about a week of on-and-off sorting, prepping and tagging, I packed up my car and drove to the school where the sale is taking place. I was pleasantly surprised to see how professional and organized the location was, how cheerful and helpful the organizers were, and how easy it was to place my items on the selling floor. For a first-time consignor, at a large sale like this, I was proud of myself.

After I set up all of my 147 items, carefully placing toys on the tables, and hanging up all the clothes my son has outgrown, I looked around the gymnasium:  I watched as other moms (and one dad) placed rocking horses gently on the floor, baby blankets in baskets, and board books, puzzles, shoes, and more in their designated spots. Like me, they are letting go of special holiday shirts and pants, noisy toys with flashing lights, and shoes that saw their first steps.

As I drove home, I thought to myself that letting go of kid stuff is another parental rite of passage, and a practice session for the really hard part of letting go, which is yet to come.

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