I always used to start dreading the holidays around this time of year. With 4 children all quite close in age, the holidays just meant a crazy mess of new toys with no place to stick them all. I quickly caught on to the fact that there was no way we could continue piling up all these toys in our home, unless we wanted to be completely over run. The solution to this is to sort through, throw away and give away toys prior to Christmas. Remaining toys can be organized to make optimal use of bedroom space and toy storage areas. This is now an annual ritual for me.
To do this, you must tackle one child or bedroom at a time. I personally like to drag everything in to the living room and sort through it all there. I tell myself I do this because there is more room for different piles out in the living room, but I suspect I also do this because it is then just as easy, if not easier, to organize the toys as you put them back in the room (I’ve gotten good at tricking myself in to things like this over the years).
Wherever you decide to go to launch into this project, gather all the toys together in one big pile. Then start sorting through everything, dividing into piles. If you find anything broken, throw it straight in to the trash. If there are toys your child has outgrown or never really played with, put them in the giveaway pile. With some toys, you know your child plays with it every once, but you also suspect that if you threw it away, your child wouldn’t notice it missing until sometime in August. In such cases, if you can’t bear to give it away (and possibly upset or disappoint your child), put it in a pile of toys to store until a later date. Finally, the remaining toys are what you plan on keeping.
Parents Are More Sentimentil
Now comes a step you may not have heard about before. Do NOT show your child all the other piles. But ask them to look over the toys you plan on keeping and tell you if there are any toys they no longer want. You might surprised at what they come up with. Sometimes we parents can be more sentimental than are children and try to hang on to thing for them that they would actually be just as happy without. Any toys removed by your child should go into the giveaway pile as well.
Any toys that have been put into a “temporary storage” pile should be gathered together and placed in a box or other storage container. Then put the box in away in a closet or someplace. In a few months, you can pull that box out again and look through it with the help of your child. I guarantee you, there will be toys your child is excited to see and others that clearly have no purpose in your home any longer.
Take the remaining toys, the “keepers”, and sort and organize as appropriate for your child’s room. As you put things back away in your child’s room, be sure to put them in logical and correct places. This will make it easier a few weeks down the road when you go to add several new items in their room, post-holiday time. Then, take the giveaway pile of toys to Goodwill or another local charity. There is the added benefit of providing gently used toys to such a place at this time of year, as it will surely help some less fortunate family during the holidays.
Divide The Job
Depending on how big a job this is per child and how many children you have, you may want to divide this job up, one child’s room per day until you are finished. For many years, both our daughters shared one room while the 2 boys were in another, so I did one room one day and the other room the next. In this case, save your trip to the local charity shop until you have cleared out both rooms.
One last note: With multiple children, keep in mind that as your older child(ren) outgrows a toy, a younger sibling may be coming up on the perfect age for that same toy. Don’t afraid to store toys for a few months to save them for your next child. Just be sure that any such box of toys is clearly marked. You may even want to jot a note down on the calendar to remind yourself 6 months from now that you have that box of toys sitting in the basement or garage. I have had the unpleasant experience of forgetting about a box of items (it was clothes in my case) and finding them when they were no longer of any use to anyone. That’s a disappointing feeling!