Try as you may to keep the onslaught of toys at bay during the other 364 days of the year, you may find yourself swimming in a sea of them after Christmas thanks to well-meaning, generous relatives.
Wait to purge. You may want to quickly get everything straightened up and find a home for all those new toys, but let me remind you of what you already know: toys that are out of sight, are also out of mind. How many times have your children “rediscovered” toys that have been sitting on their toy shelves for months collecting dust with an exclamation of, “Hey! I forgot all about this!”? If you pack all those new toys away right now you may find yourself saying, “How can you be bored?! You just got a ton of new toys!” Give them a chance to enjoy and explore – even if that means you can’t vacuum the living room for a few days. The pine needles will wait.
Re-think your purge. At the end of Christmas vacation week (which corresponds with the beginning of a New Year – how convenient), find a time to collectively and objectively look at the toy situation in your home. You have likely heard of the three-box method of purging: one for keeping, one for donating, and one for the dumpster. This is a great place to start, but there are always those kids who have a hard time parting with any of their old toys. Here are some things that you can do to put a different spin on your toy organization:
- Ask the right question. Instead of asking, “Which toys do you want to keep?” you can try asking, “Which of your toys do you think another child would enjoy more than you?” This slight change in semantics can help your child “see” their toys in a different light. One of the main goals of Christian parenting is to create an other-orientation and a heart that seeks to serve others. How we phrase things can keep their hearts and minds focused on the right things.
- Find a specific need. Donating to Goodwill or the Salvation Army are great choices, but you may find that there are needs closer to home. If your church has an office staff, they can be a great resource to contact. The staff are likely to know of any needs within the body that are not widely publicized. You can simply take your gently used toys to the church for the family to pick up at their convenience.
- Wait a few months and hold a toy swap. Many parents find that the immediate weeks after Christmas are filled with children quietly playing with their new found treasures. As the weeks and months go by, however, it seems that what was new is now old. One of the problems with modern day toys is that they tend to be “one-note.” The toys are fun, but don’t require a lot of imagination and often only allow the child to play with the item in pre-determined ways. Once all of those ways are exhausted, the fun is gone as well. You can remedy this by buying toys with more global appeal but also with a spring toy swap. Here’s what you can do:
- Contact friends and family members with children in a similar age range.
- Arrange a date for the swap.
- Make a few goodies to share .
- Set up some guidelines (such as: don’t bring more than you can carry in one trip from the car – this isn’t a garage sale).
- Leave the kids at home (or not; you will have to decide with your group what you think is best).
- Put all the toys in the center of the room and give each person (or family) a number.
- The person with the lowest number picks first, picking one toy each time around (picking only as many times as the number of toys that were brought).
- Whatever is left gets donated to charity.
What do you and your family do to tame the clutter and maintain an other-orientation this time of year?