Taming the Toys
Every parent struggles with toys underfoot. All of us have stepped on a Lego and slipped on a matchbox car. Toys seem to find their way onto kitchen counters, into desk drawers and even the car. Here are some ways to keep the toys where they belong.
Too Many Toys
The biggest mistake? Too many toys. How many toys can a child possibly play with in a childhood? If you have a basement filled with twenty boxes of toys, you have too many toys. If all the walls of your family room are lined with toys? Too many toys. If you have piles of toys in every room of your house? Definitely, too many toys.
Now is the time to teach your children to get along with only what they need and really, really want. In their life, chances are good that they will not have everything that their heart desires. They will have to make hard choices. Teach them now to live with only the basics and a few luxuries.
That means, they don't get everything they want. Be a good parent by teaching them this important life lesson.
Toys need a permanent home
Toys need a permanent home. Toys need ONE place where ALL the toys live. It can be a closet, a storage room, a corner of the family room, anywhere. Allow your child to play with toys in the kitchen, or living room, or his bedroom, but the toy must be packed up and put away when he is done.
Have a fun name for the toy area. Call it The Toy Zone or Fun City. Make it easy for the kids to remember that all toys live there.
Organize the toy area to make it easy for kids to find what they want…and to clean up afterward. Put up shelves and buy some inexpensive plastic bins. For toys with a lot of pieces, (doll clothes, building toys), dump the entire set into a plastic bin and write the name of the toy on the outside of the bin. Then, there's no question about where doll clothes live.
When picking up toys, make sure that all the pieces get put back into the right bin. Because, after all, once the tinker toys are separated…it's not a toy anymore. It's just a mess.
Purge, Purge, Purge
At least once a year, pull every toy off the shelf. A month before Christmas or Hannukah is a great time to do this. Tell the kids, "We have to go through your toys to make room for new ones!" They’ll be happy to help!
Have one of the kids dust the toy shelves while you investigate each toy. Broken toys go into the trash. If the kids have outgrown a certain toy, put it in a bag to donate to charity. Or let the kids sell their toys online or at a rummage sale. They can keep the money and use it to go see a movie or take the family out to dinner.
If purging the toys is too difficult for your children, if they can’t bear to part with their broken racetrack, do it without them. And remember, you must be strong. Just because your daughter played with a doll does not make it a sacred object. Keep a few very special toys in a memory box. Or take a picture of your child with the special toy. Then let it go.
And think: If you can get rid of unnecessary objects, your children will learn to do it too.
Visit Bedrooms to learn more about helping your child keep their bedrooms clean.
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