Welcome to Week 30 of Tidy 2020 and, again with apologies to people who are following along without kids, we have one last week of Tidying to do with children.
This week we are facing the dreaded piles of toys! These seem to be such a flash point in many homes I am in, but they really needn’t be. Once again, remember to try to keep your eye on the long-term goal of raising children/adults who know what they want in their lives. They may have very different priorities to you. I always used to love the wooden toys, but my kids always seem to get attached to plastic tat instead. I try not to throw these things away without their permission, tempting though it is.
First of all have a chat to your children about why you are decluttering. It is worth pointing out to them that it is easier to keep things clean and tidy if you have fewer toys. A declutter before birthdays and Christmas are always useful because it can be seen as a time to make space for new things coming in.
I often remind my children how lucky they are to and how nice it is to give things away to children who are less fortunate than they are. If that doesn’t work, then alternatively my children are always keen to earn some extra pennies by selling some of the more expensive toys!
Don’t feel too disheartened if this initial attempt at toys does not yield dramatic results. My younger two girls took 4 attempts, over the course of a couple of years, before they suddenly seemed to “get” it and on that attempt, SO many things went. It was as if they suddenly realised that they were in charge. On that occasion too, it has to be said that they both had a pretty strong Vision because they wanted to make their bunk beds into single beds and there wasn’t room to do so with the number of toys that they had.
So on to the actual declutter – sort the toys into piles by type and then go through them one by one. If there are communal toys, get each child to joy check individually and stress to them that they are picking for themselves, not worrying about what the other child wants to keep because the other will also get the chance to keep anything that they want to.
Once you have gone through the pile, it is time to think about storage for the toys. My general rule is to not have lids on anything! I like the Kallux shelves from Ikea because they can just pull out the box, put the toy in and close it again – somehow that seems to take less effort than opening a lidded box. Make it obvious where things go – picture labels for young children are useful. For lego, I like to use the shallow trofast boxes as the bricks can be seen without them having to scrabble through them. An alternative are those big drawstring bags that spread out for them to play, and then scoop up into a big bag. For what it’s worth, I never sort Lego by colour, only by type. Much easier to find a yellow one-er in a box of one-ers than it is in a box of yellows!
On a final note before I leave you this week, remember, that whilst we are getting the children to deal with their own belongings once they are in the house, YOU are in charge of what comes into your house. I referenced birthdays and Christmas earlier – talk to relatives about the benefits of living with fewer toys – not only is there less to clear up, but it’s also beneficial for the children. In our household, we really try to not go overboard on these occasions. We’ll often ask relatives for money towards an activity, or season tickets instead of a physical gift. Or help towards buying equipment such as helmets or bikes rather than another toy that will get lost in the pile. Talk it through with them, most people are happy to do so once they know your priorities and here is a little article to help persuade any who are not sure!