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Many parents feel anxiety at the prospect of adding a pile of Christmas gifts into a home that's already crowded with too many toys. Whether it's a storage issue, or it's time to toss toys that no longer get played with, here are seven decluttering strategies to try during the month of December.
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Many parents feel anxiety at the prospect of adding a pile
of Christmas gifts into a home that's already crowded with too many toys.
Whether it's a storage issue or it's time to toss toys that no longer get
played with, here are seven decluttering strategies to try during the month of
While plastic storage bins are a great solution for playroom
chaos, it can often be difficult for kids to find the toys they want to play
with if small items fall to the bottom of large bins. Instead, Parents magazine suggests using shallow
bins for small toys like Legos, larger containers for big trucks, and
medium-size catch-alls for toys in between.
Rather than taking up time and space to store toys that no
longer get played with, remove the "low-hanging fruit" from your home
on a regular schedule. That means that toys that are broken, missing pieces, or
have little life left in them should get discarded. Items that no longer get
played with but are relatively new can get donated to a non-profit
organization--some will even pick up unwanted toys at your home.
Clean-up time can be frustrating for kids and parents alike
if items don't have designated "homes." Every item in your house
should belong in a specific space, and get put back there every time it's used.
If there isn't room for something, consider putting it in local self storage for the time
being and "rotating" toys each month or season. Not only will this
divide the number of toys kicking around, it will help your kids appreciate the
ones they have a lot more.
If your kids seem to have endless toys with tiny pieces, try
creating a designated space for play with items like Legos and art supplies.
That way, each child has a place to keep projects in progress without the
pieces getting disturbed or contributing to the clutter. What's more, this type
of arrangement can help teach them to value their belongings.
When kids spend a lot of time on screens, they are exposed
to endless commercials about the latest buzzworthy toy of the month. Teach them
value experiences above belongings by swapping out the birthday party with a
dozen gifts for a day spent at the local dude ranch, for example. If you have
gracious relatives who ask for gift suggestions for your kiddos, consider
"subscription" or experience gifts, such as spending a special day
together. Your toy load will decrease, and your kids will have precious
memories of spending one-on-one time with grandparents and loved ones.
Some moms swear by this simple method, in which you first
decide on a narrow category to declutter ("cars" or
"puzzles," for example. Bring all items in that category together,
ideally on a large patch of floor, and one by one, select items to discard,
pass along, or keep. Commit yourself to decluttering one category a week and
soon your home will be streamlined, allowing your kids to enjoy their existing
It's OK to place limits on the number of toys that come into
your home in the first place. Designate specific areas for toys--a toybox and a
set of shelves for each child, for example--and weed out any items beyond those
that can be safely stored. If you have the space in a garage or basement, you
can temporarily store the extra toys and see how long it takes your child to
ask for those that are missing.
Because building up clutter can take years, it's not
realistic to expect to clear it all in a single day. Instead, make these habits
a part of your regular routine. Then you’ll be sure to have a manageable amount
of toys your kids value all year round!
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