My kids have a lot of toys. When I was a kid, I could only dream of having as many toys as they do.
Since I’m from a big family, we were always limited in the amount of toys we had. I have very fond memories of some toys. One of my first dolls was Nina. She had eyes that would close if you laid her down. My brothers used to pop her head off and roll it down the stairs at me, which scared me every time. I have them to thank for my ongoing fear of doll heads that are not connected to bodies. But I loved Nina regardless of my brothers’ pranks. I remember pushing her in a doll stroller while walking to the store when I was 4 years old. I took her everywhere with me.
My kids have their moments with certain toys. When my son, Gavin, was a baby, he loved wooden toys. His favorite wooden toy was a blue car that his grandma gave his big brother, Ethan, for his birthday. Last Christmas I bought Ethan mini pokemon action figures. They still keep him entertained for hours.
But there are times where they might go through a phase of not wanting to play with these toys. However, they will come back around to them days, weeks or months later.
My husband and I only give our kids three gifts each for Christmas, but they still get gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. So they are constantly getting more and more toys. Even as a certified professional organizer, constantly purging toys can be overwhelming. Here are some tips that help me purge my kids’ toys.
1. Do a preliminary sort. The best time to do this is when your kids are out of the house. During this process, you’ll look through their toys and pull out the ones they’ve outgrown and those they just don’t play with anymore. Set these aside so your child can participate in the next part. If there are toys that are broken, throw them away — as long as it’s not a beloved toy of theirs.
2. Make them part of the process. Never purge someone’s items without them being present. This includes your children. If they are old enough to have a conversation, they can participate in the process. Show them each toy and ask how they feel about it. If they are reluctant to give up the toy, make sure they know if they clear out old toys, it makes room for newer ones. Let them know the toys will find a good home with another kid. It’s also important to know you don’t have to purge everything. It’s OK to keep sentimental items like their first teddy bear — even if it’s dirty and has holes in it.
3. Donate to other kids. I love donating to charities that will give my items directly to people in need. Around Christmas, many charities accept new and used toys for kids in need. I usually donate to shelters for women and children. Once you decide on a place, think about taking your child with you so they can see where their toys are going. Explain they are going to a good place and the next kid will take good care of their old toys. This will also help them to develop empathy and understand everyone doesn’t live the same lifestyle.
When kids are able to take part in the process, it gives them a deeper understanding of purging items, and will help them develop de-cluttering habits at an early age.
Naeemah Ford Goldson is a mother of two boys who lives in Atlanta but is originally from Omaha. She’s the owner of Restore Order Professional Organizing, LLC. Read more posts from Naeemah »
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