I have a confession to make. Since it’s the New Year and time for a clean slate, I figure I might as well put it out there. I am one of those moms who sneak into their kids rooms in the middle of the night to throw away old toys. There – I said it. Horrified? I am too. It’s actually kind of fun. I wait until everyone is asleep, dress in black, and hum the James Bond theme song in my head while imagining that I am a secret agent.
You wouldn’t believe the adrenaline that courses through my veins as I stealthily creep across Big Bud’s bedroom floor. At every creak and groan of the hardwood, I plaster myself against the wall, certain of impending doom. I bob and weave in a zigzag pattern, occasionally throwing in a commando somersault for good measure. I realize it’s sad but this is what my life has come to – evasive tactics. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures. Why is it that every time I walk in that room, I inevitably leave singing the theme song for Sanford and Son? Probably because my kids room looks like a junkyard!
None of this would be necessary if my children would agree to part with some of those old toys they never play with anymore. How is it that the same toys they never cared about pre-Christmas suddenly take on a magical quality and life as they know it will never be the same without them? We’re not even talking about anything major. The pleading for toy leniency is usually for the odds and ends at the bottom of the toy box – the broken McDonalds action figure, the lone hot wheels vehicle, the Lego castle missing about a bazillion pieces.
That’s it! I’ve had enough! My New Year’s resolution this year is to take charge! I will stop being the secret agent of missing toys – I shall henceforth be known as the terrible toy tyrant. No longer will I shy away from the mountain of unused playthings! If they sit unused, broken and abused, then I will force my children to throw them out. And in order to ease my inauguration into toy tyranny, I have come up with a plan…………..
Step #1 – Thinning the Ranks
What? Limit the number of toys? This may seem drastic to some parents, but in my small house it’s an absolute necessity. Extra space is a luxury that we just don’t have. I ran to my local Wal-mart and picked up two huge Rubbermaid containers. The new rule is, you can keep only the amount of toys that will fit within your container.
We all know children will drag their feet whenever possible. It’s not uncommon for the Buds to take all of eternity when trying to sort through all the old stuff. Make sure to set a timeline for them. They have a certain amount of time to decide what to keep and what to toss. If they haven’t decided after their allotted time, mom gets to choose what goes. Believe me – tell your kids this and they will suddenly transform into The Flash.
All children love praise and will inevitably respond to it. Stick it out during the great toy cleanout and let them know what a fantastic job they are doing. Offer lots of reassurance and tell your kiddos what a big boy or girl they are for making their choices. The offer of a Happy Meal when they are done couldn’t hurt either!
Once the kids are done with the decision making, get those toys out of there! I made the mistake of not doing that once and many of the toys “mysteriously” reappeared in the toy box. Learning from my mistakes, now I like to take a large cardboard box and tape all the toys up in there. I tried using a huge black garbage bag once, but Big Bud had a fit thinking that all of those toys were going into the trash can. It’s less traumatic to use a box. Believe me – no matter how traumatic the experience is for them, once the toys are out of the picture, they will forget all about them.
Have a kid that just won’t part with those long ago loved toys? Here’s a little secret – get them involved in the process and it just might surprise you how willing they are to finally let go. Here are a few tactics I have tried in the past. They all worked for me
- Yard Sale – Big Bud was finally enticed into junking his old talking Larry Boy toy with this one. We had a yard sale; whatever money he made off of the old toys was his to do what he wanted with it. Since he had been eyeing a new Super Soaker, he jumped at this chance. I let him be in charge of toy sales. He sat his own prices, etc. Granted, he didn’t make much, but the toys were out of there and he had all that extra money! However, my sister was none too pleased that he ended up making the majority of sales to her 2 kids.
- Charity – Have your children go with you to donate their old toys to your local children’s hospital or women’s shelter. It’s amazing how generous kids can be when they know it’s for other kids who are less fortunate. Check with your local charity of choice to see what their policy is on accepting donations. Our local children’s hospital allows you to bring your children to the hospital to make the donation in person. You will be amazed at the effect if can have on even your littlest ones.
- If all else fails, there’s always Ebay! Big Bud loves watching the bids on his items. It’s almost like a game for him. Craigslist is another great option for getting rid of old toys.