Many parents approach the holiday season with a mixture of joy and dread. Joy because, hey, it’s Christmas and we like to eat cookies and listen to Bing Crosby. Dread because many parents, who are losing the war on clutter in their home, have to contend with a bombardment of new toys filling what little space they had left.
So what can you as a parent do to stay on top of the Toy Bombardment? The professional organizer answer is: Go through the toys and pare down the old, unwanted toys before Christmas. Here’s what will happen when you try to do this:
- Some children will be completely on board with this idea, especially if some of the old toys seem “babyish” to them.
- Some children will balk at letting go of toys, but then be open to the idea once you explain that they need to make room for all of the new toys Santa is bringing.
- Finally, some children will not willingly part with any of their toys. They are ALL precious and ALL loved.
What can you do when your children are not willing to let their old, unplayed-with toys go? It depends on how the child is. When kids are younger than 5, I do not involve them in the sorting process because they don’t have a sense of time — when they last played with something, if they might play with it again. They’re just too young. So as a parent, I just pay attention to what my child played with (so I would be sure to keep the right things!) and discard the old, abandoned toys after they went to bed.
For kids 5 or older, you really shouldn’t sneak the toys off in the middle of the night. For starters, it is possible they will notice what is gone! Also, you want to start teaching kids the valuable lessons of setting limits on how much stuff they can own as well as how to do a sort/purge of their space. This is where enticements come in!
- You could entice them to sort through their stuff by offering to host a garage sale in the summer and letting them keep the proceeds from anything that sells. If they can’t wait that long, offer to sell the unwanted toys as a bundle on Craigslist or a Facebook buy/sell group.
- You could also pay your children a dime for every toy they get rid of. Yup, that’s bribery. No, I don’t have a problem with that, so long as you are not bribing them to do everything around the house. Along similar lines, you could make a deal with your child that if he gets rid of X-amount of toys, you will buy him the new toy he has had his eye on.
- Another tactic is to make the toy discarding a contest between siblings to see who can get rid of the most toys. Sometimes bragging rights can be a big motivator.
- Older children may be motivated by explaining to them that donating toys to a shelter allows less fortunate children to have fun things to play with. You can also try donating the toys to a church nursery, daycare center or preschool. Be sure to call first to make sure those places will accept used toys.
Bottomline: If you are dreading Christmas because of the toy avalanche, taking the time before Christmas to pare down the toy collection could bring back a little joy into the holiday for you. Let me know how it goes or if you have dealt with the holiday toy avalanche in other ways. I always love to hear other toy management ideas!
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