• Tue, Dec 28 2010

The Post-Christmas Cleanup Ritual

My husband and I have rather large and generous families.  Our wonderful families made the holidays fun and loving  and extremely special.  They also spoiled my child rotten.  Brenna had 4 full Christmases with more than 10 gifts at each.  She also received gifts from 2 Christmas exchanges we couldn’t make it to.  Honestly, her bedroom resembles a Toys’R'Us Express.  She received so many presents, that by the end, she wasn’t even paying attention to them.  She was just blindly ripping away wrapping paper and exclaiming the name of whatever cartoon character she saw on the box.  It didn’t matter how slow we took it, how many play breaks we took.  She had past her toy intake.  So how does your child recover from this plastic gluttony?  I have a few steps that might help your child resume to normal materialistic levels.

1. Post Christmas Cleaning – My husband and I have both agreed on one thing, the whole room must be cleaned.  Not just cleaned, every bin must be sorted, ranked on level of relevance and prioritized.  Don’t just cram the incoming toys wherever free space allows.  If your child received a Polly Pocket house, car, Polly and 8 of her closest friends along with a full wardrobe for each (like one adorable little girl I know), the Pollys are going to need their own bin.  An old bin must be sacrificed.  Don’t just shove them in with all the Barbies and expect it to make sense.

2. Age Appropriateness – While you’re cleaning and organizing and sorting and sacrificing, keep your child’s age in mind.  The Pollys need their own space, this much is certain.  Where are they going to live?  Well, if you still have a bunch of infant stuffed animals that squeak and fabricate books, it might be time to say goodbye.  Pack up toys that are a little too young for your child and donate them to a worthy cause.  Also, if some aunts or uncles forgot your child’s age and bought them gifts way beyond their range, throw those in a closet.  There is no shame in hiding these toys until your child is actually ready for them.

3. Rotate – If after all your sorting and organizing, you still have more toys than your tot can ever play with, throw half in a bin and put them in the garage.  Come July, pull out the bin and switch these toys for ones they’ve grown tired of.  A friend of mine rotates her toddler’s toys with the seasons when she switches out her wardrobe.  Kids have short memories, they’ll think they are getting presents all over again.

4. Abandon Ship – If your child still can’t spend more than 5 minutes with each toy before they throw it aside for something else, maybe you should drop the toys all together.  When all else fails, leave the house!  I know it’s warm and cozy inside, you just got some great new slippers and you’d really like to start reading one of your new books.  But your child is having a crisis.  Too many toys, not enough focus.  It’s like the end of a sugar high.  They need a little time outside playing in the snow or a trip to a local children’s museum.  Anything to get them out and active, instead of sitting in their room, staring at the small city built just for some fake hamsters.  (If you don’t know what Zhu-Zhu pets are, you can’t have children.)

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  • Lesley

    If you’ve got too many toys, what about going through them (with or without your child’s help) and donating the excess toys to a homeless shelter or the like? My mother asked around for toy donations for kids in a shelter for families who are fleeing domestic violence, and the little boys next door dug deep through the toy chests for these kids. They are clearing out the clutter and learning about helping others at the same time.