Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Time for a toy clearout

Kids' toys are slowly taking over our house. Our two children have a room each containing various cupboards of toys, books, puzzles, and soft toys; they have three toy cupboards in the living room; and four small cupboards in the dining room. These cupboards are all full.

About three times a year, I have a minor stress-out about the amount of toy junk and decide it's time for a clearout. The timings of these are fairly consistent. In January, with a pile of shiny new presents, it's a great time to get rid of old toys and games. In May, when my son's birthday is just around the corner, there's bound to be something he no longer plays with. And in September, with Christmas and my daughter's birthday approaching, the thought of masses of new toys on top of the old ones is enough to drive panic into any sane parent.

So, the September trigger has happened and I am mid-stress. First things to go are the mass of party bag favourites (cheap whistles, paper jigsaws, etc) and McDonalds toys (useless bits of plastic). Feeling better already. But now what? How do I decide what my 2-year-old daughter no longer wants to play with when she can't tell me herself? Well, there's a pile of baby toys for a start, soft toys with rattles and bells in them, shakers, wooden puzzles she can do with her eyes closed, that annoying globe toy that I can't turn off...

At this point, my daughter starts to play with the pile of discarded toys. Time to distract her with my son's wooden railway set, which she loves!

By now I have a fairly substantial pile of toys, and I've cleared two cupboards. Cool! Time to attack the bookshelves. I hate getting rid of books, but she no longer looks at picture books, preferring to read a story with me. So the soft baby books go in the pile, all the picture books, and some first word and counting books that have been superseded by newer versions.

A lovely pile of toys and books to recycle. The nice toys and books go to a friend with a small baby; the remainder is divided between charity bags and school (it's the Autumn Fayre next week).

Now to tackle the boy's room. He's 5 years old and he plays with everything. Or so he tells me. I try to throw out his old Brum RC car he's never shown an interest in (because it eats batteries so I hid it). He demands new batteries because it's his favourite toy now. Sigh. Same with the Teksta robot dog. He has a massive box of Takealong Thomas trains, track, and accessories that he's losing interest in, but we can't get rid of that because a) it's too nice and b) my daughter likes it. He has several boxes of Playmobil, ditto. So many cars and trucks, but what's the point of throwing one or two out? Action figures, ditto. It's really tricky. I manage to discard some old colouring books but everything else stays. But at least it's tidy and "in the right box". So I'm happy, until January.

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