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Little Hoarders – How Do You Help Your Kids Part with Their Toys?

3813825761_878ebe762ePicking up the kitchen last week I came across some stray cardboard and recycled it.  Two days later, my four-year-old asked me where her “very special cardboard that came with her new baby doll” was.

Uh-oh.

After several minutes of tears and reassurance, she finally seemed to grasp that my mistake was unintentional.  Yet now that I’ve been branded as a thrower-awayer, she doesn’t trust me with any of her possessions.  “Where’s my ______ ?” she’ll ask, a touch of panic in her voice.  “Did you THROW IT AWAY?”

Sigh.  It’s developmental, I know, this hoarding of every. last. scrap. of paper.  But my house is only so big.

Monday’s episode of Hoarders told the story of a seven-year-old boy who couldn’t bear to give up even one of his collection of stuffed animals, toy packaging, and even used cotton balls.  At the same time my heart was breaking for him, I was itching to get into his room and clean it up.  The stuff!

My own kids own far too many things, thanks to garage sales and generous grandparents, but we weed toys out on a regular basis.  And even if parting with things can be a struggle, they’ll actually play more often in their rooms when things are organized.

Here’s how we do it:  Each child gets 50 cents for every toy they give to charity, 25 cents for any toy that’s too worn to give away.  Sisters get veto power on any toy, because they’re so close in age.  And when no one is looking, I pack up the things that have been gathering dust in the closet and put them in a box to see if anyone will miss them.  If not, out they go.

It’s not a perfect system, and we still have too much stuff.  How do you help your kids part with toys, clothes, and yes, even cardboard packaging that they don’t need anymore?

Photo: meddygarnet, Flickr

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