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When we moved house recently I spent a fair bit of time getting rid of stuff. For instance I discovered a 5 disk CD player in the loft that I had not unpacked after we last moved, BC, 12 years ago, from West Yorkshire to here. I decided it was probably time, therefore, that someone else got some use out of it. As I wasn’t getting any use out of it….it being in my loft…duck taped up.

I discovered a lot of stuff we no longer needed. To mitigate the stress on land fill I used Freecycle, Gum Tree, Facebook and for the more ancient stuff that no one wanted, the Tidy Tip. Which has an impressive recycling percentage. I am hoping someone enterprising there makes something of that CD player. Or at least breaks it up for parts.

My children were so traumatised about leaving the only house they have ever lived in that I decided that they could bring everything with them. So aside from binning used tissues, green conkers and irredeemably broken stuff all their many, many possessions came to our new house.

I did actually recycle Youngest’s Blott house which she had made the previous summer holiday out of old shoe boxes and shredded paper. That was a big mistake. She was devastated. We have built another one this holiday with an outdoor pool and flume which has mollified her slightly.

But that aside it all came. As I unpacked the Lego, Hot Wheels, plastic food, doll’s prams, Playmobil pirate ships, models made at infant school, shells and special stones, two tons of plastic medals, board games, toy medical cases, cars, musical instruments (some hand made and leaking rice and pasta), scribbled drawings c 2006 I was struck again at how little of this stuff they actually ever play with… or look at… or basically use.

I have three kids and they have many relatives, including the aforementioned four sets of grandparents, and so every Christmas and birthdays we end up with loads more…stuff. It has slowed down as they have got older but certainly when they were littler the sheer volume of toys each celebration was overwhelming. As parents we certainly didn’t help.

As they have got older we have tried to moderate. I try to buy ‘events’ or large shared gifts, preferably ones that go outside. Hence the recent trampoline. Or consumables. Mine still like a bubble bath and so bath bombs go down well. As does anything edible. Or packets of tattoos, water bombs and such like. Or it is good to buy them ‘gifts’ I would have to buy anyway. Clothes, shoes, stationery etc.  And clearly the gifts pre-teens desire tend to be small and electronic and expensive and so take up less room.

We are still left with a legacy of too much stuff.

And so periodically I try to apply my ‘one year rule’. If it hasn’t been played with for a year it goes. To cousins. To friends. To a better home. I often think of Toy Story 3 and how sad my children’s toys must be languishing on shelves and in boxes gathering dust.

And just as I make this decision, which I haven’t voiced to the kids, about some item or other  out it comes. Saving it from the one year rule.

Today eldest decided he does still like Lego after all.

They all got dressed up as Samuri Sensays. And played with the plastic and wooden swords on the trampoline. Eldest looked quite authentic. Middlest had on a white disposable overall. Youngest had on a Halloween Cat outfit and a cape. But still that’s what they did.

They built a Hot Wheels track.

I went upstairs and Youngest had set up a Sylvanian families scene in her bedroom.

So there we have it. These toys have all passed their one year test. Maybe they heard me muttering and staged a Woody style fight back.

Whatever, they are staying. I just need to try to rein in future acquirement!

And get a better feather duster…