It warms your heart to see your little one’s face light up when they open presents from Santa or get that special toy they’ve been dreaming of from a family member. And because this is such a rewarding feeling, sometimes we, as parents (and definitely grandparents), tend to go a bit overboard for the holidays. Don’t fret! There are ways to keep the toys at bay, so you don’t spend half your time pulling plastic shards out of your bare feet. (We all know that bare foot meets Lego scenario…ouch!) Follow these tips to keep your home from being overrun by toys.
- One toy in, one toy out – Set the expectation that for every toy that enters the house as a gift, another must leave for a little boy or girl who may not have toys to play with. This is a good lesson in empathy as well as a great decluttering method. Have your child choose toys that he or she no longer plays with, and paint the picture of what a little boy or girl in need might do with the toy as you gather up toys to donate.
- Get organized – A simple shelving unit (preferably not located in the toy area) can do wonders for toy clutter in your house. Organize the toys into manageable batches. Sort them with like toys — for instance, a bucket of toy cars, a bucket of blocks, etc. One bucket comes into the play area at a time. When the kids are done playing with those toys, they help clean up the mess and the bucket goes back on the shelf before another comes out to play. This keeps children from being overwhelmed by a huge amount of toys in the play area and teaches the responsibility of cleaning up after playtime.
- Have electronics out of reach – Putting all your electronics in a bin stored up high can help control the mess, as well as help limit and monitor screen time. Place all video games, tablets and other devices together and have kids “check out” an item from you when it’s an appropriate time for screens. Keeping electronics with this method also prevents items from getting lost or broken.
- If you don’t use it, lose it – All too often we become attached to items for sentimental reasons, until clutter gets out of control. If your children never play with a toy but you’re holding on for sentimental reasons, consider letting it go. You’ll have much more time to make new, happy memories actually playing with your kids (instead of constantly cleaning) when you let items go.
- Control books and DVDs – If you can convert your movie library to digital format, you can rid yourself of shelves upon shelves of DVD clutter. Rely on streaming services and digital movies, and only keep the movies out that you frequently use that aren’t available in other formats. Buy books used and keep rotating them out. If there are books you’ve enjoyed a few times, but they’re not your child’s favorite, let them move on to a new home where other kids will enjoy them.
- Dealing with baby items – Your baby might have an entire room’s worth of big baby toys like a jumparoo, walker, swing, etc. These items are usually bulky and can take over your entire house. When these items aren’t in use, store them away in a garage, attic, basement or closet. If you’re between babies, try loaning baby items out to family or friends so that a new baby can enjoy them. If you have another baby, you can simply retrieve your baby items or find great deals on gently used items at consignment sales.
At Sparkles! we practice organizational skills and cleaning up every day. Ask your child’s teacher for ideas to help get your child more organized at home. We’d be happy to hear your ideas, too!