Christmas is coming. This year I plan to be more proactive with my planning, purchasing, and purging of junk around here instead of letting it sneak up and overwhelm me like most years. Every year I try to get rid of old, broken, and just generally ignored toys that have accumulated before more toys show up on Christmas morning. This year I’ve decided to start that process much earlier and hopefully stop the cycle.
Tips for Attacking the Toy Room Clutter:
Getting rid of the broken toys. This may seem easy to most folks and it should be. However, most of the time I have to perform this seemingly easy step in secret because my oldest child carries an intense emotional attachment to his stuff. Everything has a story behind it for him or a beloved memory of when he played with it. He saves slips of paper, stickers, broken toys that were once favorites, trash that he claims is part of his “collection”, and even gets upset when I try to hand down his outgrown clothes to his younger brother. So, this first step requires the kids being gone so they don’t see me cramming black trash bags full of junk and running them to the trashcans like I’m some sort of spy running a covert operation.
Prioritize don’t organize. I’ve made the mistake in the past of making the second step be organizing the rest of the toys that I haven’t purged. I spent a ton of time sorting countless trinkets, action figures, toy cars, and game pieces into all these separate bins. What I found was that these toys really weren’t being played with and loved even though they kept finding their way onto the floor. Plus, when it was time to put things away they would get dumped back together again because no one understood the sorting method except me. So this time I’m putting some real energy into observing what they actually spend their time playing with. When other kids come over to play the choices vary some but not a whole lot. If it doesn’t get played with on a regular basis then it is outta here!
Speak their language. You may want to involve your kids in the purging process. It’s great if you can explain to them the need to give toys away to other kids who don’t have toys to play with. Sometimes that has worked for me. Unfortunately, that concept is sometimes too vague for my kids. What did make it real for them was me saying “Ok, look. No new toys are moving in until some of these old toys get moved out.” I’ll sit out some boxes and we’re not done until the boxes are full. One of their vices is Nerf guns. Holy cow do my boys love those Nerf guns! There isn’t a birthday or Christmas that goes by that they don’t ask for one. During the purging process I make them pick out their favorites and I usually give them a number they are limited to. Then the rest have to be given away.
Buy for quality not for quantity. This is my new catch phrase…especially with Christmas and a couple birthdays coming soon. After I finish writing this I am going to ask my kids to start thinking about what they really want for Christmas. My guess is that they already have a pretty good idea. Then that’s what I’m going to plan on for Christmas. I don’t know why we always seem to purchase extra stuff that I figure they’ll like but I know not really love just so they can have fun opening things on Christmas. I hate realizing that we’ve been sucked into the mentality that your birthdays and Christmas need to be filled with piles of packages to open. I also won’t be doing any junky stocking stuffers from the Dollar Store this year.
Do you have any tips for purging the toys around your house or making Christmas gifts more meaningful? I’d love to hear them.
Article originally published on 09/13/2010