In raising our two children, I often had to remind myself that they represented lots of potential. Some days I had to look pretty hard for that potential but I knew it was there! I prayed often for extra doses of patience and love. And I’m so glad my Savior is patient and loving with me.
I used to joke with my husband that the kids’ toys seemed to have babies at night when we weren’t looking. They had a way of multiplying right before our very eyes! And when it came to teaching our children to help in picking up all those toys or to take care of their belongings, once again I needed to practice patience for my children to develop their full potential.
Birthdays and the Christmas holiday season represent a time in many homes where the toy inventory exceeds the toy storage available. Here are some ways in managing all of those toys:
- Take inventory. You might be shocked as you do the counting. Decide how much is enough, keeping in mind the amount of space you have.
- For items such as happy meal toys, action figures or matchbox cars, choose a container with a lid for each particular item such as an ice cream bucket or shoe box. Teach your child that once a lid won’t fit on anymore, it’s time to sort through and decide which ones can be released in order to make room for future toys. This simple exercise establishes guidelines and boundaries around the amount of stuff your children can bring into your home. This is the first step in guarding against future clutter.
- Even Barbie goes on vacation, right? The simple process of rotating toys is fast, easy and brings immediate relief. Take 1-2 large boxes and fill with a myriad of toys. Store them in an area where the kids won’t see them. In a month or two, announce to the kids that it’s Toy Rotation Day, bringing out the toys they’ve long forgotten. Involve the kids in refilling the bags/boxes with toys who now “get” to go on vacation.
- Pay your kids to let go of toys. Older kids will often surprise us when faced with making decisions on their own about which toys they’re ready to be done with. Give your child a grocery sack and tell him/her that for every bag they’re willing to get rid of, you’ll pay them $3-$5. You can determine the size of the bag as well as the price. This tactic works best for kids who have an understanding of money.
- Host a garage sale with the sole intent of donating the proceeds to a local charity or mission trip. This is a wonderful way to model and teach your kids about giving to others.
- Sort through your toys before the next birthday or holiday. Discard the torn or neglected ones as well as those with broken or missing pieces. If there are toys your child has outgrown but are still in good condition, clean them up and donate them to a local preschool, church or shelter.
As with anything, there is a limit as to just how much will fit into our homes. Teaching young children how to balance their toys with the storage space allotted for them will teach important lessons of stewardship.
© Audrey Thomas