In Decluttering the Kids – 1.Baby Clutter we looked at how to clear out the kid clutter that the parents can take responsibility for, such as baby equipment and clothes. Now we move onto a trickier area, kid’s toys and games.
You would have to be quite hardhearted to go into your child’s toy box and simply throw out all the toys you felt they had outgrown. Apart from upsetting your child you would miss out on a great opportunity to teach them the concept of decluttering for themselves. This is a gift that will last them a lifetime, so don’t pass up this opportunity.
The best time to declutter is close to Christmas or a birthday. You can explain to them that they need to make space for their new toys. When you decide it is time to declutter, work with your child, and be prepared to respect their opinions – what looks like junk to you may be their favourite toy (well, this week anyway!). You will need three piles to sort your child’s belongings into, Keep, Bin and Give Away.
Anything which is completely unusable or dangerous should go straight into the Bin. For the toys which the child wants to keep you should provide suitable storage, and you can offer a shopping trip to choose the containers as a reward.
Then you have to persuade them to part with toys, games and books that are in good condition but they simply don’t use. Don’t expect them to get rid of much the first time – it may take several goes to make a difference. As long as they choose a few items you have made some progress.
Your child could be much more willing to part with items if they feel that they will give pleasure to someone else. If you have a friend with a baby, your child will be delighted that the baby will enjoy playing with them.
Children also love to feel that they are helping people in need, so if you give the items to a charity shop, explain who will be helped by their donation. If you are lucky enough to have a number of charity shops nearby, let the child choose where to donate. If they are into animals, have been moved by a recent news item, or have a family member with a health problem this could help them to choose a charity that really interests them.
Finally, here is a little trick that can work if your children have a wide enough age gap. The younger child needs to be around one year or below, and the older one at least three years older. Suggest to the older child that they choose some of their outgrown toys that are in good condition to wrap up as Christmas or birthday gifts for their younger sibling.
They get to truly give something rather than just choosing something that you pay for. The younger child will not really understand gifts at that age so will not notice. The older child still has access to their toys and you do not have to spend so much on presents.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.