We have SO MUCH stuff! I don’t know how it happens. Just when I think we are “living simply” or not falling into materialism and consumerism… I look around the house and realize that we have quite a bit. We are blessed beyond measure to be the recipients of gifts from generous family members and friends as well as lots and lots of hand me downs. We have rarely had to buy clothes for our kids and have only on rare occasions bought toys for the kids.
Please examine the following so you can see what I am working with…
I mean… I know that we don’t have the world’s worst toy problem. I didn’t show you everything…I didn’t show you the piles of baby toys, puzzles, music instruments, books, or the 15,000 stuffed animals that all have names and personalities and birthdays. I mean..it could be worse. BUT… it could be better. I have a system for detoxing from all the toy madness. The kids know about and take part in the system. Every few months, we rotate toys. We go through the bedroom and the playroom and decide which toys have not been played with in a while. We put them in a pile. We then go through the pile. If we (mostly me) think the toys will be played with again some day, we put them in a box to keep. If we (mostly me) think that the toy has worn out its welcome or is no longer age appropriate, it goes in the giveaway box.
The first box then goes up into the closet until the next time we have a clean up and clean out day. At that time, we take the box down and put those toys back out into the rotation and box up different toys. Am I making sense? Basically, you don’t have all your children’s toys out all the time. You can rotate once a year, every few months, every month, etc. This keeps the toys fresh and exciting… and you’re not spending money on new toys.
Other things we’ve done to cut out the clutter and try to avoid accumulating too much include:
1. Donations- I already sort of mentioned this. However, if you get your kids involved, it can be something meaningful to them. Recently, we have been spending time with some friends who are in process of adopting from Ethiopia. They have regular yard sales to raise money toward the adoption fees. Before each sale, I encourage my kids to go through their toys and books and find at least three things they would be willing to donate to the sale.
2. Rearrange the room- Just simply rearranging your child’s room or playroom can renew interest in old toys. This makes the temptation to buy new toys a little less powerful.
3. Sell, sell, sell… Maybe you and your kids could organize your own yard sale where they get to price and sell toys that they may not play with anymore. We haven’t done this yet, but I am seriously thinking about it.
4. Go to the library. I have recently come to the conclusion that I am addicted to childrens’ books. I have several boxes leftover from my teaching days. Our house is overrun with books. I am dealing with my problem and giving away/ selling the books. We go to the library every few weeks and just enjoy the books we check out from there. The kids’ interests are changing all the time … so I am not going to invest much money in something they will be moving on from soon anyway.
I encourage the kids to take a look at their toys regularly (especially before birthdays and Christmas) to decide what needs to go and what needs to stay.
It is a good practice for me as well. If I am not going to use something, there is no sense in it sitting around collecting dust when someone else could be enjoying it.