This post is for all the mums and dads and whilst it might seem painful to try to find the time to reduce the toy stash at this busy time of year the benefits will outweigh the pain, you might even enjoy it and it will be a valuable learning experience for the kids.
Start by explaining WHY you are going through this process
You can put what ever angle on this you like spiritual, moral or practical – the choice is yours as a parent. Here are some reasons I have given my kids
- we have more than we need
- we have run out of space and there wont be space for new toys
- there are children who cant afford new things and we are fortunate enough to be able to help
Set up a system and a plan as to HOW you will do it
Have a bucket/pile/spot for:
- then sort with a theme in mind e.g. dolls, cars, lego, musical, dress up
- give the kids those instructions AND set a time frame e.g. we will do this for 20minutes then have morning tea
Be prepared for distractions
The kids will re discover old toys and be tempted to play. I once read that the purpose of a task like this with children is to strengthen the relationship. If what you are doing is creating a rift, it is not worth it. Step back and re evaluate, come back to the task after morning tea break or be prepared to finish yourself.
Be prepared for reluctance
Through the process you will also find you need to provide heaps of encouragement and reasons WHY, why, why (repeated approximately 7million times if you have a 3year old) here are some suggested answers
- that toy is broken
- remember that toy has pieces missing and we haven’t been able to find them in a long time
- wouldn’t it be nice to have more space to set up puzzles or practise dancing
- wouldn’t it be kind to donate that to charity
- there will be more room for new toys
Get them to buy into the process and take ownership
You want them to be willing participants making it easier on everyone. Try these:
- Get excited about the holidays, upcoming parties, events, people they will see and places they will go
- Ask them who they think might bring them a present (let them get excited by that)
- Remind them how lucky they are e.g. “wow, that’s a lot of new stuff! How lucky are you? Not all kids are that lucky are they?”
- Remind them how they could help those kids by donating some of the toys they don’t play with anymore
- Give them some control by associating the toy you think they should donate to a specific age (younger than them) e.g. I might ask Jacob “remember when you were 4 you used to play with this all the time? Should we give it to another 4 year-old to enjoy?”
Bribe them to speed things up
Come on we all do it……at this time of year I am usually still rationing out the Halloween stash, putting a couple of sweet treats on the line helps speed up the process. Or you can try for extra TV time or a later bedtime or extra bedtime book, what ever the current ‘currency’ is at your house.
Despite personally putting a new toy ban in place (we have requested clutter free experience gifts) I know that there will still be new toys this Christmas and I will be glad to have done the seasonal cull before they arrive.
Do you do a pre Christmas (or birthday) toy cull? What strategies work for your family?
Have a magical day