The holiday season is fast approaching, which means a parade of new toys is about to march into your home. I know the feeling all too well. Both of my children celebrate their birthdays around the holidays, which makes the toy parade stretch even farther. As I write this, toys are already spilling out of the little bit of storage we have. How can we possibly handle even more? Can we avoid a complete toy takeover? I'm going to try.
Too many toys aren't just bad for your organizational skills. Kids suffer when there are too many choices of items to play with. They are over stimulated, don't use their imaginations, don't take care of their toys, and don't learn to share as well.
When I warned my two-year-old that if she keeps misusing her toy it is going to break, her response is, "Oh. And then we will have to buy a new one?" To her, the world is full of an endless supply of toys. Don't think that if you avoid the toy takeover you are doing your child a disservice. You aren't. You are actually helping her develop mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Toss, Re-Gift, Donate
Before Santa and Grandma pay a visit to your home this season, sit down and go through your child's toy box(es). Honestly decide what toys you think your child should keep or shouldn't keep. For example, if your child has five riding toys, cut back to a maximum of two.
Sort toys into toss, re-gift, and donate piles. Some toys will be in bad enough shape that they should be tossed, while others would be great for your little niece or nephew, and others are perfect for donating to Goodwill. Try to avoid any feelings of sentiment. If there is a toy that you just can't part with but your child no longer plays with it, stick it away in a box of other sentimental items for your child when she's older. She may want to give it to her children.
Keep Your Shopping List Short
Don't let Santa go crazy anymore. Your child doesn't need every toy on her list. You know which ones she really wants and which ones are totally ridiculous. For example, this year we are letting Santa give one big gift to both the girls — a toy kitchen that my two-year-old has been talking about for months. It is the one thing she really wants. They will both get a stocking filled with the essentials: fruit, socks, toothbrushes, and leftover Halloween candy, plus a few little toys and books to open. But they won't be getting 20 presents each. This will also help keep your bank account in good shape.
Communicate With Family and Friends
Family and friends (especially grandparents) can go a little crazy at Christmas time too. If you're lucky enough that they ask you what they should get your child, be honest. If they don't ask you, give them a couple of suggestions to help steer them in the right direction. Try to get them to stick to books, or toys that will go with what you are getting them. For example, I asked my sister-in-law to get some toy food to go with the kitchen we are getting the girls. You can even ask them to avoid "stuff" altogether and get your child a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant or play gym. To make the gift even better, she can use the gift card for a special day out with Grandma.
Bonus Move: Teach Your Children to Give
Sign up to give gifts to children in need this season. Letting your child take part in picking a name and finding a gift will help them learn the value of giving. Talking with them about how some children live without the Wii or Nintendo DS or even clean water will help foster a spirit of generosity rather than selfishness.
Toys come and go into our children's lives. Think back to your childhood. Chances are your parents tossed toys and you never knew the difference. Limiting the amount of toys your children have will help them to value their belongings and understand that material items are not what's most important.