Thursday, January 1, 2009

Challenge #1: Post-Christmas Toy Excess!

In honor of this time of year, when we are blessed to the point of too much in the toy department ..lets talk about what we will do to destress this mess!

First, and foremost ..make sure there is a spot for every new toy! If it means that you need to get rid of some to make room for it. This is a must to keep order in their space.

Teaching them a balance of giving and receiving is another plus to this necessary task. They need to learn that when we are blessed with new things, it means that we are now supposed to bless others because we have SO much! This is a great topic of conversation on the way to Goodwill :)

A very big biggie for us, working on some organization in the game/puzzle department.

As my kids get older, the big chunky blocks that go in the wagon for the 2-year old are only added to the puzzles and games with small and numerous pieces that my 4-year old has gotten.
While these certainly are necessary for well-rounded educational development, they also add a dimension of stress to the organization of their stuff.

We have developed some helpful habits in our home that I want to pass on, in hopes of destressing this part of your life :)

* We have a Mommy Closet ...its a mommy-only accessible closet or shelf where toys with small pieces live, and only mommy can get them down.

* We have a "when little brother is napping" or "just me and mommy" time for those games and puzzles. In theory, these things can be better controlled when the baby or little brother is not running off with the pieces. It helps that big brother feels important because he gets to play with this toy as a "big boy" lends itself to a high expectation of control of all those parts and pieces, not to mention a chance for some good quality time with mommy or daddy :)

* We put the games, toys and puzzles away ..all parts in place or not. This has been a big help for me. I used to keep them out until I found the pieces or would just give up on that toy because the pieces were all missing. I started putting the toy away, and then over time I ended up finding all or most of the pieces. Because that toy/game/puzzle was put away I knew where to take the newly-found piece so that that item was ready for play the next time it was requested.

Some advantages that I have found to keeping control of these things are:

* A chance to teach about taking care of the things God has given us
* You have a closet of behavior rewards available at all times ...a usually off-limits toy is a great way to reward good choices!
* Better use of resources..what use is spending the money on all that stuff if you arent going to keep up with it?
* More play ..all the pieces and parts means more fun when its played with!
* Toys stay in great shape for when your kids are ready to get rid of them, you can sell them or give them away instead of throw them away because they arent complete
* Because you give the toys to the kids, you know which ones they play with and dont prefer. It makes it really easy with you are cleaning the closet out every few months!
* There are NOT 1,000,000 pieces of those toys all over the place!

So..the first challenge of the year ...

Take 15-30 minutes 2-3 times this week and work on ordering the kids stuff. Give away the old stuff, give a home to the new stuff, and put stuff up that they are too little to keep control of on their own!

If this is a big area for you, check back to another post where there are some different tips on decluttering kids stuff.

Let me know if you have some other ideas to keep our little people's stuff under control, or if you used these tips to destress this area!

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