My son just turned eight, and I begged his extended family not to fill my house with plastic junk toys.
Why? Because I often look around and wonder how many of my kids’ zillion toys they just play with.
I do the mathematics on the dollar amounts that must have been spent over the years by the entire family, and I get a little woozy.
Of course, his aunts, uncles, and grandparents ignored me and showed up with boxes and bags filled with toys that I was pretty sure would be lost within 24 hours.
He got a robot snake, multiple Nerf guns with tons of ammo with which to litter the kitchen floor and plenty more “stuff.”
I looked upon it with contempt not because the toys were not nice but because to me they just represented clutter.
I hated to think of finding them all over the house, stepping on them and – more than anything – of my boys having so much that they would become spoiled and ungrateful.
Do you find yourself in this position on birthdays and holidays often?
Here are some ideas for refreshing your kids’ interest in their old toys and introducing new toys so that they ALL get used.
Toss and donate
After my kid’s birthday, I looked at it all and thought about how little interest or respect my boys’ toys often get. They are sometimes ungrateful but mostly just careless little boys. I did what I have done for years, which is to allow them to unbox a few toys at a time over the next week or so.
Then, we all went into the playroom and cleaned out toys for their younger cousins to have as well as garbage and donations. They pulled out some toys and books they had not seen in years. Some of them were kept, and some were given away or trashed.
It was sort of a Marie Kondo type of clean out, and it raised their awareness about how much they really had.
The toys that were kept were toys that they wanted and that they valued. But, there were still simply too many for them to be able to enjoy them all regularly. So I set up four boxes – one for each season.
I then created four groupings of toys with certain necessities in each one. (For an 8-year-old boy, for example, legos and cars are always crucial for playtime, so I made sure that each box had some of those). Three went in the attic. This way, every few months, I can change out the box and it is like Christmas!
This is a straightforward method that helps kids enjoy what they have.
Old games become brand new again, and kids figure out new and innovative ways to play with toys they’d had for a long time.
Kids play when they can see what they have and have access to all of it.
An organized bedroom, playroom or toy area where they can get at their toys is a tremendous asset. Too often, we allow toy areas to become chaotic.
When an area is organized, kids have more fun. Make the organization system simple enough that they can do it themselves and insist that they have respect for their belongings.
Demand that toys are tidy and organized before bed each night.
Get a bookshelf
My kids have an enormous number of books and enjoy reading. I have found, however, that a disorganized box or pile of books is overwhelming to them.
Plus, they cannot find what they need or want when they need it. One of my kids loves animal non-fiction books. My other guy is a Dr. Seuss fanatic.
I recommend getting a bookshelf and organizing it by simple categories (not alphabetically by author, for example, because young kids are not going to do well with that system). Buckets or boxes will work just fine, as well.
The categories can be as simple as fiction, non-fiction, and magazines. Or, you can organize by topic so that, for example, all of the books with animals in them – regardless if they are fiction or nonfiction – are together.
When my kids and I got all of their reading material out and organized, they were stunned by how many amazing books that they had. They were re-energized in their love for reading!
I know that asking that no one give my kids toys was a bit extreme and, even as I said it, I doubted that my family would obey.
But, it’s not the toys I hate. The reality is that toys are learning tools in the hands of children and I want them to have toys – I want them to treat them with respect and not forget what they have.
The above suggestions are great ways to foster appreciation and respect for their belongings and help them hit “refresh” on their older toys.