Out with the old, in with the new. It’s a great cliche when referring to things like, um, calendar years — but when it comes to children’s toys, it’s easier said than done.
If you feel like your house is being taken over by stuffed animals, Lego pieces and random robot parts — well, it probably is. The problem may feel particularly acute in the wake of Hanukkah, particularly if you’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time indoors during a record-breaking cold spell.
But no matter what the climate is like where you live, or what your policies are on Hanukkah presents may be, “too many toys” is a common trope of modern parenting.
Fortunately, there are solutions. We asked our super smart readers on Facebook about how they fight toy clutter, and this is what we learned:
1. Throw away the stuff that is broken. This may seem obvious, but scan your kid’s bedroom or playroom: How many busted toys are lying around that you were planning on somehow mending or fixing someday? Admit that is will never happen, and say goodbye.
2. Donate toys in good condition to a worthy place, or give them to someone with younger children. Enough said.
3. Get the kids out of the house. Have your partner or a friend take the kids somewhere — say the playground or the library — and use the distraction-free time to sort toys into thee piles: trash (see #1), donate (#2), or keep (back into the toy box they go). “Most times,” says one Kveller reader, “they only notice that mom cleaned, not that anything is missing.”
4. Have a one-in, one-out rule. Nip clutter in the bud by insisting that for every new toy that comes into the house, one toy must exit the house. Not only will this avoid massive hauls to the thrift shop, it also teaches kids something about generosity.
5. Have a toy sale. Donate the profits to a worthy cause. In one reader’s case, the proceeds from a sale “will go to my son’s bar mitzvah project of raising money for a scholarship.”
6. Think local. Instead of Goodwill, consider donating gently used toys to a neighborhood rescue mission or a nearby children’s hospital.
7. Pick a number. If you can’t abide by the one-in, one-out rule (see #4), then pick a number — eight, say — of toys that must be donated or thrown away each year. Given that the December holidays are recently over and a new year has begun, now is the perfect time to start a new annual tradition!