How to Avoid Becoming a Toy Pack Rat
If your playroom is in disarray, you’re not alone. Many parents struggle with keeping their kids’ toys in order. A big part of the problem is that there are simply too many of them. Children just can’t keep up with what goes where. They forget where they put a doll or a favorite set of Legos. It’s basically system overload. You don’t have to resign yourself (and your kids) to this fate, though. It’s easy to keep the toy chest or playroom in order without getting rid of toys that your children love. What you really need to focus on is trimming the fat—that is, donating the toys they rarely play with that are taking up space. If you’re considering downsizing in the playroom, answer these questions before taking a toy to the thrift store.
- Is it still age appropriate? Kids naturally go through phases. A toy your kids really loved when they were three and four might hold little excitement for them at five and six. Make sure you aren’t holding onto toys just because they have some sentimental value for you—or simply because you haven’t given the toy box a good once-over in a while. Keep an eye out for toys your little ones have outgrown and give them away.
- Has it been played with in the past three months? When you clean out your closet, experts generally say to toss anything you haven’t worn in a year. When you clean out your toy chest, the rule of thumb is three months. After all, kids have much shorter attention spans than adults. If they haven’t touched it in three months, chances are they’re not going to again—time to let go.
- Is it clean and in working condition? Some toys wear out before kids are actually ready to let go of them. Chucking them might be a tough sell in this case, but toys that are falling apart could become choking hazards. Try explaining this to your child when you remove the toy instead of just snatching it.
- Do we have more than one? Between birthday gifts and toys that get left behind after playdates, chances are you’ve doubled up on a board game or two. Try to find any matches and just keep one of them. When it comes to stuffed animals, your child might have a few that look almost exactly the same, but stuffed animals should be sorted according to your child’s attachment.
- Was it a party favor? Some parents enforce a 24-hour rule with party favors and other low-quality toys, like the kind you’d get in a kid’s meal at a fast food restaurant. These cheap toys can distract from the nicer, educational toys you’ve actually spent money on. What’s more, they’re so small that they tend to pile up. So get rid of them after your child has played with them for a day.
- Does it fit in the allotted bins? Any good organizational system starts with the containers, and your playroom should be no different. Decide on a number of bins or shelves that will be devoted to toys, and then get rid of everything that doesn’t fit.
- How did this toy end up here in the first place? If your child has been receiving a surplus of toys on his birthday or for another holiday, a chat with his grandparents or aunts and uncles might be in order. Encourage them to spend time with the child doing something fun instead of giving a toy for birthdays.
Attribution: CC BY 2.0/ Flickr/Josh Hallett