The American Academy of Pediatrics issued an updated clinical report in Pediatrics recommending caregivers give traditional hands-on toys that stimulate imagination and creativity, such as puzzles, building blocks and cardboard boxes, to youths ages 5 and younger, instead of interactive electronic toys. The report also advised that those younger than 5 should only play developmentally appropriate computer or video games with parent or caregiver supervision.
Do you dread the holidays and birthdays because it means that your child receives more toys than they (or you!) know what to do with? If so, it’s time to declutter.
Decluttering toys does not have to be an emotional process where your kids cry and worry what you are going to get rid of next. Nor does it have to be a sneaky escapade where you work under the cover of night, getting rid of things while your kids sleep and hope they don’t notice the next morning. Here’s how:
- Be honest. Point out the overflowing toy bin or the closet that doesn’t close. Talk about why it is important to take stock of what you have and do a clean out.
- Identify. Ask your child to point out toys that are their absolute favorites. Ask them to show you the toys they don’t really play with any more. Make it clear that you aren’t going to get rid of everything right away unless they are ok with it. If there is something your child is on the fence about, set it aside for a few weeks. Do they notice that it is gone?
- Do a clean out. This will be the hardest part. There will be some no-brainers: baby toys, broken toys, and toys that are missing pieces are easy things to put in the discard pile. As for others, be patient and work together.
- Figure out what do to with the toys. Once you go through and identify toys that your child is ok with getting rid of, you’ll have to decide what to do with them. Should you host a garage sale and your kids get the proceeds? Maybe you donate everything. Whatever you decide to do with the toys, make sure your child has a say in it. It might be easier for her to give away things if she knows it is going to a local preschool or to kids who don’t have a lot of toys.
- Set rules for the future. Now that your home is decluttered, you’ll want to establish some ground rules for keeping it that way. Maybe for every new toy your child receives they have to donate an old one. Instead of getting toys for birthdays and holidays, maybe you can ask your family and relatives to give experiences (tickets to the circus, a trip to the movies, etc.) in lieu of “things.” Whatever works for you, do that!