Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to Keep the Toys in Check

By Brandi M. Seals

It seems that every child I know has more toys than he or she knows what to do with. They start accumulating from an early age. People give them as gifts, grandma and grandpa just cannot resist the temptation to give something new, and often parents also overload kids with toys.

The over abundance of toys inevitably slowly spills out from the child's room into the living room or family room. I have seen it time and again. But there are a few things that can be done to prevent losing your home to toys and baby supplies.

Start by keeping the toys in check. Go through them. Remove anything that your child has not shown interest in for a couple of months. Also remove anything that they have outgrown. If you plan on having more children, you do not want to throw these toys away or donate. Instead, pack them up and store them somewhere else. Store the toys in a garage, basement, attic, or even a closet. Just get them up and out of the way.

If this is your last child it is time to organize a garage sale. First go through the toys and throw out anything that is broken or damaged. Pick a Saturday morning and set up shop. Give each toy a price or group them in bins labeled 2 for $5 or whatever price point you would like. Check with your local government. Some places require a permit for a small fee in order to have a garage sale.

After the garage sale, you will want to bag up whatever did not sale and donate the toys. Everything else can be given away to friends with kids or donate them to a charity. Good Will is a great place to donate the toys. As is a children's shelter. Look in your phonebook for places to donate or ask some friends. Someone will have a few ideas.

Have your kids help out with this process as soon as they are old enough to do it. Let them know that they do not need to keep everything and that other people would love to have what they have.

If the toys you kept are still taking up too much room you will need to stop buying them. Or, for every new toy brought into the home, one of the old ones must go. Try to keep things in moderation. Next time you see something that Junior's just got to have, ask yourself if it is really necessary or will it just fall to the wayside in a couple of weeks.

Talk to grandparents if their giving is getting to be a problem. You do not want to seem ungrateful, so suggest that they start keeping some of the toys they buy at their home. That way, your son or daughter will have something different to play with while visiting the grandparents.

Sometimes the problem is not having too many toys but rather a lack of organization. Everything should have a home. Children will be much more likely to pick up if they know where to put their stuff and if their parents require them to pick up after themselves. Of course this would depend on the age of your child, but most kids can start helping out around the age of two. They may not put things up as quickly as you could, but they are learning a very valuable lesson by putting everything away.

If the toys do not have somewhere to go, you need to create somewhere. Purchase crates, pins, boxes, or whatever works for you. Divide the toys up into categories. Perhaps cars go in one bin, balls and other small toys go in another, and dolls go into a third bin. It may help to label the bins if your kids are old enough to read, otherwise color coding them is a good idea.

For books, get your kids a small book shelf or another bin. Give everything they own a home. As long as it has somewhere to go, your child will know where to put it. If you have been lax with them about putting things away you will find some resistance, but do not give up. This is not a fight you want to give up on.

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