Do you feel as if you’re constantly picking up toys? Do you dread birthday parties because it means your kids will get more toys? Do you have nightmares that your kids’ Playmobil and Lego sets come to life and smother you?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it maybe time to face the harsh truth: you have a toy clutter problem
Victoria Warneck recently came to this realization. In an e-mail to The New York Times, Warneck, the mother of two boys and a girl said she spends too much time “stepping on marbles, finding puzzle pieces, stacking books or cleaning up the games and toys that overwhelm my 3BR, 1,800 sq ft house.”
She is on a mission to clear the clutter and is seeking advice for how to go about it.
My fellow Strollerderby blogger Sierra recently wrote about how she purges the toy clutter — she throws away her kids’ toys while they sleep. An expert advised that instead of secretly tossing your children’s stuff you should involve your child in the process of clearing out the toy clutter. Of course, this depends on your child’s age. Don’t expect a 2-year-old to agree to willingly part with any of his belongings.
Warneck believes that “life would be better if I sold, gave away or simply THREW OUT 80 percent of our belongings.” She asks Motherlode readers: “What toys does a child actually NEED? Do you have rules to keep down the clutter, or does having children mean being overwhelmed by toys?”
Certainly, no matter how much they feel they must have the latest techno gadget, kids don’t actually need toys. As most of us have witnessed, children often have more fun playing with the box the present came in than the actual present.
I make a point of circulating toys so that after six months absence, their old toys suddenly become “new” again. Motherlode readers came up with other good suggestions, which I list below.
Five Tips for Reducing Toy Clutter:
1. For every new toy that your child gets, have your child pick one to donate.
2. Rent DVDs and borrow books from the library rather than buying them.
3. Hold a garage sale and let the kids keep the proceeds — or even better, donate them to a worthy cause.
4. Take digital photos of the toys your kids can remember them years later without your having to store so many mementos.
5. Encourage relatives to buy your kids “experiences” (such as a trip to a show or a cooking class) rather than more toys.
One poster said before acquiring more toys, their family considers their carbon footprint. “As far as the bigger picture goes, our family is making an effort to transition to a less-is-more attitude. Before we buy we ask ourselves … ‘Do we need it or just want it? Will we still value it as much 3 months from now? A year?’
Of course, the same question could — and should — be asked before making adult purchases as well. Do you really need more crap?