Let's face it, we can't completely get rid of all the toys in our house (as much as I wanted too someday when I accidentally stepped on that one piece of lego duplo and ouch..!). Even as non-toy gifts advocates, we know toys play some parts in childhood.
The question is how do we keep the number of toys in our house at bay ? I know parents who confessed that they felt like giving up organizing the toys because they were practically everywhere and they had taken over the house by storm!!! (and getting a bigger house is not a solution, is it?). So, here are 10 ways to keep the number of toys in your house at bay:
1. Rotate the toys
Some parents I know do that and I do that too. It helps! Instead of keep getting them new toys, I rotate them monthly or sometimes sooner or longer than that. I keep the toys that the kids no longer play with them in a box placed in a storage. When I took them out the next time around, they treat them like new again ;)
2. Donate or pass down to other kids
Those baby toys you still have in your house and no ones are playing with them anymore, are good ones to donate to non-profit organizations in your area. Other parents who have babies at home may be interested to receive the pass down from you too. We got lots of pass down of toys from friends that way and when no one I know need them, I usually donate them or....
3. Have a garage sale
If your kids are old enough, hey..they can help you with a garage sale (when the weather is permitable). Or if you are not in the mood for garage sale, you can sell them to Once Upon A Child. The money raised from the sales can be distributed to the kids for their piggy banks/savings ;) Sound like a win-win situation. Less clutter in your house and teaching kids how to raise money and most importantly, save them!
4. Sell through a 3rd party
Munchkin Markets have Children's Consignment Sale Event at five different locations in Minnesota. You can be the shopper and/or consignor
5. Keep this in mind when you throw a birthday party for your kid or got invited to a birthday party
This is perhaps one of the times in that child's life that he/she is likely to get lots of toys. Simply because most people associate kid's birthday with toys (and that doesn't always have to be the case)
For the toy gifts my oldest received, I let her open one gift per month or a bit longer. That way, not all the new toys are out there and get "old" at the same time and you don't feel like your house is being invaded by hey....MORE TOYS !! If the toy is accompanied by a gift receipt, I usually return it to the store and let her pick out another non-toy gifts like books, coloring stuff, stickers, etc.
Another way you can curb this down is by hinting it to your guests. I personally like it when I know exactly what to get for the kids that he/she will like. And check out this 60+ non-toy gifts alternatives that will create life-long memories for the family and the birthday kid instead of getting more toys.
6. Skip the kids meal from fast-food chains
They usually cost more (because you are paying for the toy too!) and guess what ? most of the time they ended up somewhere under the couch or just vanish!! (you'll probably find them again when they move out to college). Besides, we never order any kids meal when we go out to eat anywhere with our kids. We order from regular menu and share. They usually like to eat what we eat anyway.
7. Play dates
It's always nice going over to other people's houses or having other kids coming over for play dates. It keeps things "fresh" (that includes the toys they haven't played for a while and all of the sudden it's fun again because they play them with other kids). Play dates outside the house is always nice too, especially for stay-at-home moms to get some fresh air.
8. If you have that temptation to get more toys for your kids, Resist and think again!
Let's be honest, it's unlikely your kids need anymore new toys (though we and our kids are often convinced that they do. We call that marketing!)
While toys are great for distractions, they usually don't last long either. Instead, introduce them to more activities like drawing, coloring, painting, playing with dough, jumping on trampoline, playing with hula hoop, solving puzzle, sledding, building snowman, reading, etc. Signing them up for classes like martial arts, private music lesson, gymnastics, etc will keep them pretty active and entertained at the same time too.
This may sounds a bit unusual at first...Rent some toys ? But this will definitely help to reduce clutter in your house and your kids will have different variety of toys every so often.
One company we know in Minnesota, Toylend USA, does exactly that...renting toys. They are also adding a "Toyscription" service soon.
10. Toy library
We got some favorite books at home, but majority of our books come from the library. We utilize library a great deal. Not just books, but music CDs, DVDs, etc. Library is a great resource. The toy library is the same idea. The Minneapolis toy library is being organized right now. We can't wait for it to be up and running.
How do you keep the number of toys in your house at bay ? Share with us. I'm sure many of us can relate when it comes to this topic ;)