Navigating the Motherhood Maze: Jumble Sale

If you have children, then you’ll know how easy it is to accumulate ‘things’ and lots of them! Even if you are super tidy and organised (hats off to you!!) there will still be some area of the house where ‘stuff’ hides.

In some homes, in the run-up to Christmas, parents will often have a big clear-out of toys and clothes to make room for the ‘new stuff’ that Santa will bring… and what better way to get rid of them than to recycle, repurpose or sell on. But, children will often stop them from throwing things out or selling them on as they have “sentimental value”. So sometimes, you have to be a bit clever about when to have your clear-out – probably when they are at school. And honestly, they don’t even notice that the items are gone!

Jude sums up perfectly in this post just what all parents go through when it comes to having a good old clear-out and whether actually, holding on to some of these items is not such a bad thing after all!

Jumble Sale

If it were up to my children, nothing in my house would ever get thrown out. 

They are incapable of realising the value of letting go of something. Oblivious to the fact that you do have to stop wearing clothes that are 4 sizes too small for you. Ignorant of the equation that says there simply isn’t room to permanently keep everything they have experienced the tiniest bit of affection for or attachment to.  

I go to strange lengths to get rid of things I know they haven’t looked at for months. Scrunching Princess drawings down into the bottom of the recycling. Crushing “craft” (2 loo rolls and a cereal packet stuck together with masking tape) and making the trip outside to the wheelie bins to be sure they won’t catch a glimpse of it in the kitchen bin. Because if they do, I know what will happen:

“MUM!  Why has someone thrown away my binocu-rocket pack??!!”

“Er, maybe they thought it was a bit broken and you hadn’t used it for months and you didn’t really need it?”

“But I LOVE it!  It’s my FAVOURITE binocu-rocket pack. I ALWAYS use it! I use it EVERY DAY!”

“But I found it covered with dust down behind the bedhead.”


“But that’s where I KEEP it!!”

“What is a binocu-rocket pack anyway?”

“Duh!  It’s a rocket pack that you can also use as binoculars, so you can see birds from outer space.”


So, when a local jumble sale was announced, I decided this was my chance for a proper clear-out. I found a large cardboard box, labelled it, and hid it in the bottom of my wardrobe. Over 2 weeks, I slowly and sneakily added all the things I came across that I knew my kids didn’t need, and wouldn’t miss – unless, of course, I asked their permission to throw them out, in which case they would suddenly declare them completely indispensable. 

On the Saturday morning of the sale, I sneaked this box outside and placed it on the verge in front of our house to be picked up, nestled up to the hedge where it couldn’t be spotted from any bedroom windows. By half-past nine it had disappeared – result!

What I’d forgotten, was that I’d told the kids they could go to the jumble sale.

And they decided to take their pocket money. 

My house is now fuller than before of objects that are unneeded, undesirable, and un-throwable away.  My daughter returned with a china shepherdess and a book about looking after long-eared rabbits (we don’t have any rabbits, let alone long-eared ones). One of my boys found a Liverpool football annual from 1985 (“Really Mummy, were you ACTUALLY ALIVE in 1985??!!”), another filled his pockets with plastic Christmas cracker toys (they were only 1p each!!!)  They are all over the floor, the kitchen table, the toilet cistern and there’s one in nearly every shoe in the house. 

Humans are fantastic at acquisition – it’s human nature, but it’s also one of the mainstays of our economic system.  Those of us who are grown up have by necessity also got fairly good at Sorting things and Throwing Things Out. Too often, we then replace them with other things. But could we learn from the straightforward, non-judging affection our children have for their possessions, which assumes they should be kept forever? I mean, that shepherdess does have a certain charm about her… 


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