If there’s one thing that all parents can agree on, no matter what generation you’re from, is that our children have too – much – STUFF!
It starts when they’re babies. We get all these gadgets and gizmos to help them sleep better, ease teething pain, reduce spit-up, extract mucous, monitor their temperature and heart rate, calm fussiness, and encourage fine and gross motor skills. Not to mention all the contraptions available to put our babies into; bassinets, co-sleepers, cribs, pack-n-plays, swings, bouncers, loungers, pillows, wedges, carriers, slings, wraps, hammocks, seats, high-chairs, strollers, car-seats, bath tubs, pool floats, jumpers, activity centers, walkers, and probably more I’m not even aware of! And the clothes, don’t even get me started on the clothes! The crazy part is they out-grow them within weeks of buying them…yet we still buy them. In bulk.
Now I’ve found that as my children grow, the number of gizmos and gadgets does decrease slightly. Though sometimes you’re just trading in one item for another. Diaper pails for tiny potty chairs, walkers for stepstools, bottles for sippy cups. But eventually your children can finally reach the sink, use a regular size toilet, and even drink from a normal cup. Now we’re faced with this new challenge: what to do with all that stuff?
When my first son was born, seven years ago, I discovered purchasing things second-hand. I frequented local consignment shops and attended many yard sales. It was fun and almost thrilling to find items for a fraction of the cost! I remember one specific yard sale where I found this light-up mirror baby toy. The mother selling it to me got teary-eyed as she told me how her children, now quite grown, had enjoyed that toy. She seemed so happy knowing it was going to another mom whose children would enjoy it. (That toy, by the way, has been a favorite of all three of my children, and I plan to keep it for my grandchildren to enjoy one day)
Now I admit, I tend to be much better at buying things from consignment shops and yard sales than I am at selling things at consignment shops and yard sales. It really wasn’t until our third child was born that I realized just how much stuff we’d accumulated. I guess I didn’t want to give up anything, just in case I’d need it again. But now after three kids, I have a more discerning eye for children’s items, so I’m purging our closets, dressers, toy bins, and playroom of anything that I don’t think is worth keeping.
I should throw in here that I, like most Netflix subscribers, have recently watched the show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It’s inspired me to weed out the toys, gizmos, gadgets and clothes that don’t really bring me or my children “joy”. For the items that do bring us “joy”, I have a large bin for storing them away. Things like special toys, extra useful baby items, adorable onesies, first pair of shoes, extra-loved-shirts, and anything else that hold fond memories for me and my family. But everything else I am slowly but surely passing along to friends and family first, then trying to sell the rest.
Let’s talk about how Millennials sell stuff now-a-days. Sure, there are community Yard Sales or big Consignment Sales, but that means pricing it all, packing everything up, taking it somewhere and only having that one day to sell it. Another option is selling to local consignment shops such as Once Upon a Child. I like this option when I’m in a hurry to just get rid of things and I don’t care how much I get for it.
But in true Millennial style, we like to sell things online using the least amount of interaction and effort possible. There are lots of ways to sell your stuff online! There are traditional websites like Craigs List and Facebook Marketplace, but also mobile apps such as VarageSale, Listia, Wallapop, 5miles, Letgo, OfferUp, and many more. You just upload a photo of the item, write a description, price it, and let the online haggling begin! Once a buyer has been found, you can arrange a meetup time, usually at a nearby public place. But who has time for that? I like to go that extra mile of laziness and just leave it on my porch for them, trusting that they will leave the cash. Or ideally, they pay me through Venmo or PayPal, and I leave the item for them to pick up at their convenience. I’ve found that some savvy online sellers even have a weather-proof storage bin on their porch for this exact purpose. I should get one of those.
Now sometimes the item is too large to transport or leave on a porch. We recently sold a 60-gallon fish tank, train tables, and TV set. This can make the process a little more challenging trying to arrange convenient times for the buyer to come by. And of course, there’s the risk of giving out your address and inviting total strangers into your home. Since we own our own business, our address is public anyway, so I don’t mind having people come here. But I do always make sure it’s during the day when my husband is home, and we try to bring the item outside for them to look at, as opposed to having them come through our house. I just try to be smart and safe about it.
Even though selling things online can be convenient, call me old fashioned, but I do still enjoy face-to-face interactions when selling our things. I like to share with them a trick I may have learned about the item, or a fun story to go along with it. I just remember the look on the mom’s face when she sold me that baby toy at the yard sale. It’s like she was sharing a special secret with me, knowing I was this brand-new mom embarking on the journey of parenthood. So in this process of buying and selling my children’s things, I’m learning that human connection and community can go together with convenience, even if I am a Millennial.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, has two sons, and baby daughter.