Anyone with kids knows that between what you give to your little one as gifts, what the grandparents buy, and what they receive as birthday presents from friends- the amount of toys a child owns is enormous. Pile on top of that the stuff they collect as prizes for kiddie meals, favor bags at parties, and other tchotchkes they bring home from school- and bookshelves, closets, and bins are overflowing.
Now, multiply that by 6 kids!
Over the years I've taken several different approaches to tackling the toy overload. When my kids were younger, I would sort through them while they were napping or a preschool, and stash a few boxes of rarely-played-with toys in the basement. If a few weeks went by without the kids looking for anything that I had packed in the boxes, off to the donation center they went! One of the reasons I took this approach is that my oldest son was a junior-hoarder-in-the-making when he was younger, and could never agree to part with anything. But I didn't like making the decisions without their partnership- and there was one time when it really caught up with me… when I realized I discarded my son's Harry Potter wand into the donation box, long after it was picked up.
Get The Kids Involved
But now that my kids are older, I am happy to report that they like to be the decision makers on what to keep and what they are done playing with. And they do a pretty good job too- they don't just want to get rid of everything because it's easier to do that than to clean it up, and they don't want to save absolutely everything either.
Pre-Holiday Toy Clean Out
This week I asked the kids to work with me in the basement on our toy/craft/LEGO/video game closet. It had gotten to the point where things were falling out on us as soon as we opened the doors, and the kids could hardly find anything they that were looking for. Plus I reminded them that with the holidays (and my youngest son's birthday) coming, we would need some room to store some of our new holiday gifts.
As we were pulling things out of the closet to sort through, I think that all of us were surprised at just how much we owned that we never played with or crafted with. Some of this discovery led to instant use (one of my sons immediately set about creating more Rainbow Loom bracelets, and both of my daughters started working on their scrapbook kits), and some led to revelations (for me) on items we have invested in, but never get used (I'm looking at you- karaoke machine and tabletop hockey game). It certainly helps me to make more mindful decisions about what kinds of things the kids should really receive for the holidays.
More Ideas for Handling Toy Overload
“There is definitely such a thing as too many toys,” says Claire Lerner, director of strategic initiatives at Zero to Three, a non-profit that promotes the healthy development and wellbeing of young children and their families.
Claire Lerner goes on to give some specific tips on how to observe your child's play and make decisions on what toys would support and grow their abilities through play. She also talks about toy rotation as a strategy to limit how many toys are available for kids to interact with at a time.
All good things to consider as we head into the prime toy-buying time of year!
Right now I am feeling good about the fact that we battled back some of our toy clutter and made more accessible the things that we want to keep and use.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.