Tidy up time

I can just hear my littlest singing “Tidy up time, tidy up time” as I write this.  The kids know that post-birthdays we have to do a big clear out to make space for any new toys.  Some birthday and Christmas presents are “consumable” and, after bringing a fair amount of joy into our home, have already found their way into the dustbin.  I’m always grateful for smart friends and family who like to supply gift-joy without the clutter!  These included Whopee cushions, cracker fillers and party favours, stickers, and soon-to-be-added to the list – hatching dinosaurs!  The kids have fun but we don’t need to keep the souvenirs.

But how do we decide what stays, and what goes?  Based on my previous post, you will see that I am a fan of keeping things simple.  So I thought I’d add my two cents as to what can stay.

  1. Traditional toys: wooden blocks, puzzles and a few treasures like ViewMaster and Etch-a-Sketch
  2. Classics: the Duplo and Lego collection
  3. Transport: planes, trains and automobiles
  4. Animals: farm set, wild animals and dinosaur collection
  5. Open-ended toys: tools for creative play that grow with your child. We love Moluk, Playstix, Lego and I have a few on my wish list!
  6. Some art supplies: crayons and paint, large paper rolls, stickers, colouring books and a black board
  7. Some gross motor toys: balls, frisbee, sports equipment etc
  8. Something for dress-up and role play: we have a few masks collected from children’s parties, some medals, a tea set and some mini shopping

Now all I need are some beautiful wooden shelves, but for now clear drawers will do so that we can see what’s inside.

And what must go:

  1. Anything broken
  2. Anything with missing pieces
  3. Anything no longer age-appropriate.  My little one has just turned two which means all the baby stuff is heading out the door.
  4. Any junky plastic toys that we feel have served their time

In general, I am not a fan of “licensed” toys.  By that I mean our home is not bursting with Disney characters, superheroes and related products.  For example, Oogi from Moluk can be superman today and an aeroplane tomorrow, without costing me money or space.  Branded toys tend to have limited use and lifespan, and that licence is what makes the toy so expensive.  Yes we do have some. but if you’re looking to reduce clutter, then looking at “multi-purpose” toys might be the way to go.  When faced with toy choices, research shows that limiting options forces children to be more creative in their use of what they have.  My grandfather use to tell us post-war stories of how they would make their precious trains out of wooden thimbles.  Each child had only one toy, rather than one favourite toy.  Maybe my children have never fixated on a certain toy because there are too many options and if they can’t find one toy, well, they’ll just play with something else until it turns up again!

I hope this summary helps.  And if you can’t decide what stays and what goes, get the children to help.  I have been amazed at the maturity they have shown helping me in this process.

Strength to all the mommies and daddies – you will soon have more breathing space!

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