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Paying it forward

expat life expat mums expat parenting expat parenting abroad Jun 14, 2021

I tried something new recently, and I want to share it because it may work for you too.

We all know that as our kids grow older, they end up with more and more ‘stuff’. Despite my best efforts to purge on a regular basis, which frankly is very necessary when you move every 2 years, our kids are the same as most and they still have a lot of stuff.

I had purged their room - clothing, books and toys on a regular basis. I would usually time it with  Christmas and birthdays. I would go through their things and donate what they had outgrown or no longer needed, with the messaging to the girls being about making way for new. But also giving to those who are less fortunate, which growing up in India and Asia they saw a lot of.

But when we were leaving Taipei I didn’t have a lot of preparation time, and I made a big mistake. I purged without telling them about it, which coincided with the packers coming. And to this day, they think it’s either still in a box (even though I’ve unpacked everything) or got lost in transit. I haven’t the heart to say, oh I donated that!?! Shocking parenting I know!

So in the last holidays I took a different approach. I decided they could earn money by decluttering their rooms. But honestly the faff of listing items for sale, answering the dozens of questions that come through, and then people not showing up to pay and collect - in NZ we use an app called Trade Me - I just couldn’t face the extra time and energy it would take to do it. 

Then a new Dove Hospice Shop opened near our home, the girls and I were out walking one morning and popped in to have a look. These shops are where people donate items - clothing, books, toys, kitchenware, anything. And it’s sold at a very reasonable price, kids books are $1. With all the proceeds going to support the Dove Hospice who provide support and services to cancer patients. I am a bit cheeky, I have been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping in these shops, going to the more affluent areas of Auckland and picking up real gems, like a ham stand for hubby! 

Miss J found a cookbook she was really excited by, and to be able to buy it with her pocket money, she found it really rewarding. When I explained to them both how these shops work, they wanted to give something too. 

Bing! Bing! The lights went on in my head! 

Well, do I have a deal for you girls. If you go through your clothes, books and toys and decide to donate it to Dove I will give you 50c $1 $2 $5 or $20 pending on what the item is. Then you can put that money in your bank accounts, but most importantly you are supporting people who really need the care. They both got really into this, and we loaded the boot of the car up. And they made a reasonable amount of money too. 

It was fascinating at the end of the holidays, Miss J wanted to go back into the shop to see what had been sold… she couldn’t believe it, not a thing left, not even a book. 

“Wow mummy, it looks like there were a lot of children who needed things, I’m so glad we did this!” 

And I am too. I don’t have to cover for missing items anymore... They know what they donated, they know it went to a needy home, and they know they supported a charity who does great work. 

So, next time you’re looking at your kids room and see clutter, try it? See if they are happy to pay it forward. 

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