Preparing Your Toy Boxes for the Holiday
The holidays are upon us and many moms are looking around their home wondering where in the hell they are going to put the whole new crop of toys, gidgets, gadgets, and holiday haul their spawn is about to rake in.
Unfortunately, I don't have a magic hack that will make the process of thinning the collection any easier. I do have a few suggestions that have worked with my kids and for my family. Maybe they'll work for you too.
In our house, we have a limited space for toys. Each kid has a toybox. We invested in these nifty dressers from Sauder since we've got twins and space is doubly limited. Then we have a shared chest. For the time being, all the toys go whereever, but the collection cannot exceed the space allotted. But as they get older and the toys become less communal, the girl child will put her toys in her toy box and the boy child has his. Toys that are shared or are still communal go in the toy chest. If there's no more space for a new toy or gift, something has to go.
Although we've limited the space allotted for active toys, we have two full sets. One set is in the toyboxes and one set lives in bins under each bed. Every few months we rotate. Not necessarily the whole set. The very favorites stay in the toy boxes but toys that have gotten a little less attention are relegated to the bin to see the light of day later. If they still get underplayed with, it's time to retire.
This or That
If you are at a breakpoint for capacity, the 'experts' will tell you involve your kiddo in culling the herd. However, if you've ever asked a moody kid to pick a toy they no longer want to own, chances are you've been met with wild indifference or an all out tantrum. We've played the This or That game to quell this. Select toys you suspect are a little less loved these days and pair them against each other in a battle to the death. Throw in other choices too to keep the game feeling less like a sorting chore. Cucumber or Carrot? Buzz Lightyear or Marshall? Swimming or Snow Angels? Jungle Monkey or T-Rex?
If you have a pretty good idea of what toys its time to take to the Donation Station, you can have the kids participate by having a "Space" Race. Gather up the toys you believe will end up on the reject pile and move them to a new location, someplace they don't belong like the bathroom or the kitchen. Place them in spots your kid can reach and have them race (either each other or a timer) to find all the things that need a new space. As they bring them, the either have to find the right space or put them in the box for donation. This way you've still chosen the least played with toys but they are still a part of the process. If any strong feelings emerge about one toy, it may mean they aren't ready to give it up yet. And that's okay. You tried.
One In, One Out
For toys that seems to multiply with endless minute variations (think stuffed animals, barbies, OMG!, Hot Wheels), institute a house rule of One In, One Out. If you get a new Barbie, you have to retire an older one, the least favorite of the crew. New Hot Wheels just had to be be purchased while at the store? Okay, but one of the ones at home is outta here in exchange.
As always, remember there's no such thing as parenting experts, only people with a few good ideas from time to time. None of these may work for you, but hopefully they strike up some ideas that might help get those toyboxes cleared out for the incoming holiday onslaught.