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4 Things to Do with Your Kid’s Stuff When They Grow Up

A young girl painting a picture.
MaeManee/Shutterstock

From stuffed toys to finger paintings, kids leave a lot behind when they head off to college or move out. It’s hard to let go of those childhood memories, so what can you do with all that stuff?

How to Choose What to Keep

You don’t have to hold onto everything your child ever touched. Kids grow out of baby clothes quickly, and it’s best to pass them on to others who need them.

However, parents often feel obligated to hold onto things they think their kids might want again someday. Whether it’s just something to remind them of their childhood, or something they might want to pass on to their own child, there are good reasons to hang on to some special items.

The following reasons are good ones for holding on to something:

  • You know what you can do with it
  • Your kid wants it
  • It holds special memories

Anything that holds a special meaning—like the first toy your child ever received, or his first piece of artwork from preschool—is worth keeping. But how do you want to preserve it? Do you want it to just sit in a box until no one is around to find it and enjoy it?

What to Do with All the Stuff

Before you do anything, ask your kids if they want any of their stuff. Even if they don’t want it now, they might in the future. However, there’s no time like the present to send some of their childhood with them to their new residence.

There are plenty of things you can do with anything they don’t take, though.

Put It in Storage

Your kids might not be ready to drag their childhood memories with them to college or their new apartment. Rather than getting rid of it, though, you can put it in storage until they decide they want it.

Follow these tips to store everything safely:

  • Store it in totes: Pass on cardboard boxes, as they can get damp, and attract spiders and other bugs. They also don’t provide much protection for the items inside.
  • Toss in some cedar chips: They smell nice and will help keep pests out of your storage bins.
  • Store similar items together: Pack all the clothing together, but keep toys and art in their own separate bins.
  • Attach an inventory list: Write down everything that’s in the tote and tape it to the side, so you can instantly see what’s inside.

Create Something New

There are so many wonderful things you can make with old clothes, whether it’s baby items or stuff from those crazy teenage years.

Try any of the following ideas:

  • Make a T-shirt blanket: If your child went to concerts, camp, or was big into school sports, they’ve likely accumulated quite a collection of T-shirts. Turn all of them into something your kid can use: a blanket! The video below will get you started.

  • Make a memory quilt: T-shirts aren’t the only clothing items that can be turned into bedding. If you have old baby clothes you just can’t let go of, consider turning them into a memory quilt you can either gift your child or keep for yourself. The video below shows you how to cut the clothing you want to use in your memory quilt.

  • Make a stuffed animal out of baby clothes: Stuffies easily fit on a shelf. Plus, are you ever really too old to old cuddle with a stuffed animal? The video below walks you through how to make stuffed toys out of your kid’s old clothes.

Frame It

You can frame more than just flat artwork. Shadowbox frames have enough space for you to glue in all sorts of trinkets. You can make a collage of your child’s first onesie, hospital bracelet, and anything else that reminds you of the day they came into the world.

If you’ve ever walked through an art museum, you know beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Even your kid’s messy finger paintings might be gorgeous works of art to you. Why not frame and hang them on the wall so you can look at them for years to come?

Donate It

If your adult children are absolutely sure they don’t want any of their old toys or art, and you’re out of storage space, donate them! There are lots of outlets for donating gently used kids’ stuff, from church sales and resale shops, to women’s shelters.

If there’s a family in your area who’s experienced a house fire or loss of income, consider donating directly to them if you have clothing or toys their children could use.


Of course, you can also anything that might be worth some cash (like vintage games and toys) or toss items that are broken or stained. No matter what you do with your kid’s childhood belongings, the memories of her in that outfit, or of him playing with that toy will remain in your heart forever.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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