Look, I know Santa came to your house. I also know anywhere from four to eight grandparents descended and brought gifts for your children, too.
All these toys arrived on top of the ones
piled shoved in the playroom.
It’s time to purge toys, so your children are not overwhelmed by stuff.
But this is not a family activity.
When I am working with clients, I require them to follow one rule: Don’t purge toys with your kids. In fact, in my contract I have with clients, it requires them to get childcare while I am there.
Because when you take out toys your children have not touched since they were 2, they will suddenly become interested. And then you feel guilty about ripping them from their little, innocent hands and getting rid of them.
So it’s time to do the secret edit. Set up a playdate, or send your spouse out with them — preferably to a fun experience and not a place where they will come home with more stuff.
While they are out, grab the toys they have outgrown. Throw out broken and junk toys — i.e. Happy Meal items, party favors, etc. Gather baby board books your 7-year-old no longer reads.
It is important to note I am not saying get rid of cherished toys or ones they still play with. I have one plastic bin for each child, where I keep their favorite toddler clothes and the baby books they made me read over and over. They can take this bin when they are grown and look through it or throw it away. But it is ONE plastic bin. And that’s it.
Also note I have purged toys with clients, and not one child has said, “Where is that baby toy I used to play with?” They did not even notice the toys we purged.
And note, it is up to you to set limits. Stop feeling guilty about getting rid of it. Too much stuff overwhelms children and causes stress. It is your job as a parent to create a calm, loving home environment. (I don’t have a plastic bin from my childhood, and I am perfectly OK.)
As for where to take the toys, that gets a little tricky. Most charities won’t take used toys, especially used stuffed animals. Think about it. Would you buy a used stuffed animal for your child?
So you need to find a friend to give them to or toss them. I prefer the latter. Unopened toys can go to the Bargain Box. Books can be donated your local library.
Finally, I encourage you to do two things in preparation for next Christmas:
1. Come up with experiences you can give you children as gifts instead of more stuff. My husband took our kids to a basketball game as their big Chanukah gift. As for material items, my daughter got a skirt, and my son got an indoor basketball hoop. And that was it.
2. Set up a bank account for your children. (I have done this.) Talk about this bank account all year with your parents and in-laws. And suggest they write checks instead of bringing more stuff next year.