Once we hit August we are in gift giving and getting season until January. We have four kids and all four have fall birthdays, so let’s just say we make a killing in the fall/early winter. Because of this, I try to do a major overhaul of our toys and stuff before the gifts start pouring in. Why do I feel that this is important??
- Sanity: I don’t lose my mind trying to find places for all the new stuff coming in.
- Eliminating: I get rid of broken toys, toys with missing pieces, and toys we no longer play with.
- Generosity: It gives us an opportunity to bless other families who can use the toys more than us.
I know some families have the rule of one toy in, one toy out. I applaud them for this rule. I would however, have a hard time following through with this rule. My kids are equal opportunity players, meaning they play with all their toys all the time. We are also blessed with family and friends who love to bless our children throughout the year. (You know who you are – thank you!) It would just be traumatic for them to be constantly having to decide which toys to keep and which ones to take away. What has worked for us is 2-3 Tupperware containers in the middle of the room labeled “Pack”, “Throw Away” and “Give Away.” I try to pick a day when the toy room is completely destroyed. It helps me point out that we have way too much stuff and if we would just get rid of some of it we would have so much space. This usually works well, especially with Hannah who, like her mom, has mild heart attacks when everything is in disarray. Then I start talking up how wonderful it will be to have space for the new toys they will be getting for their birthdays and Christmas. We discuss that those will be things that they will really want to play with, not the forgotten toys in the miscellaneous buckets in the toy room. Then as we start going through the toys we think about all the little girls and boys at church that we know that we could give these gifts to and how that would bless them. Then they really start getting excited! They end up totally getting into the spirit and get more generous than I would have made them be.
It also gives us an opportunity for them to practice negotiation. There are times when I want to get rid of a toy that I never see them play with and they put up a fight. I tell them instead of getting hyped up or upset to explain to me why they think we should keep this particular toy. Sometimes they have some good reasons, like it is the toy they play with when a particular friend comes over. It is the friend’s favorite thing to do, so I let them keep it. Other times the negotiation process reveals they do not have a good reason and they are just like their dad and have a hard time letting go of things. Then, instead of being sad that the toy has to leave, we think about who we can give it to and that makes them happy to share.
We are blessed, so I want my kids to be grateful and thankful for all that we have, but I also want to instill in them a heart to share. Of course they are normal kids, so there is sometimes a last minute change of heart. I let them do that, knowing that at some point they will be ready.
Do you periodically go through your toys? Do you do it with your kids or when they are sleeping 🙂 ? As you de-clutter what lessons can you teach your kids?
Here are pictures of our last sweep. This is our best one ever!!! (It did help that my girls have moved to playing with Journey Girl/American dolls instead of baby dolls. This is not our normal amount, but I did do a couple happy dances afterwards! Oh, and we didn’t get rid of the furniture… it just got moved to a different location in the house to be used in a better way.)
So far we have been able to bless 6 families!!