In our culture, we have very good skills when it comes to acquiring things, but we have lost (or perhaps never had) the complimentary and very necessary skill of weeding. Getting your children in the habit of “letting go” of toys they no longer use is good training for the rest of their lives.
Besides, play rooms and toy collections are difficult to clean up when there is not enough space. As I mentioned last week, every toy needs its very own home, preferably labeled with photo and words, so your child will always know where it goes. So when you have a seemingly-infinite number of toys and a finite space, it’s decision time. What stays and what goes?
Here are some tips for how to approach the weeding process with your kids:
- First, sort the toys into categories: dolls, board games, stuffed animals, action figures, cars, etc. You can do this yourself or you can have the kids help you. Having toys sorted into like-piles will make decision-making easier.
- Second, have your child find all the toys that are broken, missing pieces, ripped, etc. If they are not going to be fixed, then they can go into the trash. Duplicate toys can be donated.
- Next, take a good look at the space you have. Then give your child choices with limitations. Start by having your child choose what to KEEP. Make it into a treasure hunt. “Find your two favorite dolls. Find your ten favorite cars….”
- Then, have them choose the toys they know they definitely don’t want anymore. Put those into a “finding a new home” box.
With the toys that remain (not favorites but not discarded), you can do one of several things.
- Let them keep what there is still room for. “You can keep as many cars that fit into this bucket.” Or “You can keep as many video games as will fit on this shelf.”
- Keep the extra toys in a storage box. Every month or so, swap some of the toys from the playroom with the toys from the box. Children will rediscover toys that they haven’t appreciated for a while.
- Or, simply find another home for the extra toys.
Where to find a new home for toys? Some options are to donate to charity, children’s hospitals, doctor’s offices, churches, or preschools. Another choice is to keep the toys for a yard sale and then let the children keep the earnings from selling their old toys. Or swap them for some new toys using a service like Toyswap.com. Narrow the choices down to what you are comfortable with and then let your children help you decide.
Make weeding toys a somewhat regular event. Going through the weeding process after birthdays and holidays makes space for all the new cool stuff and makes it easier to let go of some older items.
This blog post is the third in a series of how to help your children succeed at cleaning up their own toys and being responsible for their own belongings. Next week: Answering your questions and sharing your suggestions. Email your questions/suggestions regarding keeping your children’s toys organized to me at email@example.com.