As I waded through what seemed like a six-inch-deep pool of toys strewn across my living room today, it hit me that I need to do something to corral them more effectively before even more toys enter the mix these holidays. Do you have any effective (and easy to implement) suggestions for a time-pressed, working mom?
Once kids enter the equation, it’s just a matter of time before you’re faced with this dilemma. As a parent, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the lure of toys that remind you of your own halcyon days of youth. Throw in a little working parent guilt and voila! Toy overload. As a kid, it’s nearly impossible to keep those shiny toys neat and orderly, after all, they are there to be played with, right? Here are a few ideas to help you quickly cull and organize those toys before the holidays.
• Set the Stage. The first step is to winnow the total number of toys in rotation. The holidays are a perfect time to do this as they offer a context of thanksgiving, and giving that make it easier for everybody to “share” (i.e. pass along) toys. If your children are old enough (approximately 4 and up), decide together where to donate those toys that are gently worn and still in very good shape. Some good local ideas: a homeless shelter, the Fire Department (stuffed animals), a school or day care center, a consignment store, or a local woman’s shelter.
• Cull in 30 Minutes. Assemble all members of the family over the age of 4 and enlist their help in this project. Set a timer to 30 minutes and get going! Place three large bags or boxes labeled ‘Toss,’ ‘Give Away,’ and ‘Keep’ in the center of the living room. Instruct everybody to first, identify and then toss those toys that are no longer functional. Then, with the goal of giving away at least 30% of the toys, place gently worn toys and stuffed animals to donate in the box labeled ‘Give Away’ and all others in the box marked ‘Keep.’ If your gang is having a hard time letting go of enough items, remind them again of the sharing mission. As soon as you’re done, throw out the one labeled Trash and put the box labeled “Give Away” in your car.
• Get Some Storage Boxes. Going forward it will be easier to keep toys under control if they have a home. It is so simple, but nothing creates more of a mess than objects that do not have a regular place to go. We love the colorful Calypso Toy Trolley storage boxes available at the Container Store for $20.
For more organizational tips for the holidays, read "Holiday Travel Buttoned Up " and "The December Countdown ."