How to handle kid clutter and selling your home

green rectangular toy gray boat toy gray shovel toy and green car toy on top of brown leather surface
Photo by Markus Spiske on

In my previous blog “Spring Cleaning and Selling”, there was one major factor I left out, the kid’s and their stuff. Kid’s toys, stuffed animals need special consideration when it comes to preparing your home to sell.
Anyone with children understands kid clutter on a regular day, can be challenging. Deciding how to handle the toys, crafts, plastic building blocks when you are preparing to sell can be tricky. I’ve put together a list of tips that might help you navigate your way through.

1. Donations and trash
Obviously, the best way to reduce clutter is to take a hard look at what the kids are playing with and what they are not. Get the kids involved and ask what they would like to keep, donate, or maybe trash. In our house, removing toys is a process. I have a corner in my home specifically for toys that haven’t been played with. Any toys or books that the kids have outgrown or that they just don’t play with get placed in a box for donation. The kids, themselves, will make regular contributions to this pile. After a month or so, if no one is looking for a certain toy the pile is donated.

2. Crafts
Start with separating and organizing crafts into categories by function or activity. Same as with the toys, start with what can be trashed, i.e. Broken crayons, dried up markers & glue, stickers that no longer stick. You and your child can review to see if their interests have changed or what they have outgrown to decide what can be donated. Shoe boxes and see through plastic bins can help sort out and organize smaller items.

3. Organize, organize, organize
Baskets, bins and storage containers are your best friend when staging your home to sell. Consider creating a storage space in each room. This way, if there is a last minute showing scheduled, you can pile the toys in a bin or basket and head out the door.

4. Growing family
When our family was in transition, our home was filled with baby gear we didn’t need, but wanted to hold on to. Sound familiar? If you are planning to expand your family in the future, but don’t need that baby gear at the moment, consider storing at a storage facility or at a family or friend’s home. Same goes for baby and children’s clothing that your kid’s have outgrown. The more you remove from your home, the better it will present to a potential buyer.

5. Trash
Sadly, sometimes a toy can be so well loved, it’s just time. If it’s a safety hazard or beyond repair, it’s time to toss. In our home, those small little knick-knacks from parties, holidays, restaurants add up. Sadly, not everything can be kept or donated. You be the judge what is truly going to cause a problem in your home, in terms or clutter and arguments.

6. Memorabilia
All those pictures, notes, you’ve collected, it’s time to do something about it. This is always something that piles up quickly and doesn’t get addressed as often as it should. Dedicate an hour every day to sort through the paper and really analyze what should be kept for mementos. I try to limit the pictures to a certain number for each age and grade. I know some people that scan the art work and make a book from online printing services like Shutterfly. Of course, it depends how much time you have and your time line to get your house on the market. If time is an issue, consider storing at a friend or relatives.

7. Preparing for the move
Just like with any other item in your move, start by packing up the toys that are not frequently used. Same with books. Make sure boxes are clearly labeled and taped. The tape is mainly a securing measure to make sure no little ones have tampered with the boxes without your knowledge. My oldest made a point of opening boxes to look at previously packed toys during our own move. Create a priority box for the most precious, loved items that could not be lost. Have a pile of toys that is questionable if they should stay or go? Put it all into one box and label it last. Long after the move, if the box hasn’t been opened, the decision is made for you. 

It isn’t easy and trying to deal with years of clutter can be cumbersome, but the rewards and goals of a new home is a great reward.

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