Mastering The Kids Stuff!


Jasmine Sleigh swapped her role as a senior manager in local government to become a professional organiser in 2013, founding Change Your Space. She has improved over 150 homes, transported over 650 sacks of quality items to charity and has been featured many times in the media. We are excited to share her guest blog based on her own real experiences as a Mum.


I am a mum of a lively lad who is about to turn eight years old. We have just had the pre-birthday sort out, which has doubled up as the pre-Christmas declutter. You should know that I have conducted half of that process with him, and the other half (another hour) without him so I could be more direct (read ruthless).

But please note I am a caring, kindly professional organiser of nearly five years and have consideration for sentimental items (yes I am keeping all those Julia Donaldson picture books and the space project).

But, you also have to consider access over volume.

The truth is, if we do not sift and prioritise what to keep of our children’s stuff, then we overwhelm them in the future with a loft crammed with so much they will not be able to discern what was really special.

The average 10 year old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily. Studies indicate that having fewer toys could increase creativity and encourage more care of toys. Keeping toys under control is a constant battle for parents and children. The key is regular tidy ups and reviews.

So I offer up here the 7 best tips I have for my day to day, year on year mastery of the kids stuff!

1. Reflect on the genuine playability of a toy or game.

Even if it has been given as a gift, consider donating and have the toy played with then simply hold onto it just in case.  You know your child; you know their interests and what you are likely to play with. See that excavate your own dinosaur kit? I know that is not coming out ever, so I am happy to donate it, and keep the make your own dinosaur out of cardboard instead!

2. Review and rotate toys every 6 months.

You will bring back into play some games you thought they would never play, and see easily the ones that need to be re-homed to make
space. It is totally fine to store away some new toys from Christmas and birthdays to bring out for a rainy day, and to limit the amount of toys out at one time in the house.

3. Re-home appropriately.

If they are going to a friend or playgroup, then put it in the car and take it that day, preferably before school pickup! The charity shops love kids toys and books to sell, and this is where I have located half of my sons Beast Quest books. He loves to find them and I like to support the local charities. Win win. Recycle, reuse. Feel good about it.

4. Allow them to own the process.

Give teenagers the project of selling unwanted gadgets in the house and keeping a percentage of the proceeds.  I use CEX and there are many other such stores to trade in old computer games for example.

5. Have a dedicated box for instructions.

When donating or selling having these as part of the item will be hugely helpful.

6. Create a system.

Have a large clear plastic box for crafts so you can see what’s in there and keep them contained. Then add a colourful box or basket for their drawings and artwork. When the basket is full ask your child to help you choose the best pieces to put in your memory box in the loft.  This will make those pictures more meaningful.  Plus review the arts supplies every 4 months so all will fit in that assigned box.

7. Keep things contained.

Toys with tiny pieces (Lego, marble run, Sylvanianian family for example) with lots of little bits should be played with up at a table on a tray or a board or I have a play mat that outlines the limits of where the small pieces are allowed to travel. This projects everyones safety around the house from trips and falls, and again teaches children to play but respect the home.

Good luck with your pre-Christmas sort out!

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