Posts Tagged ‘toys’

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(Home Management) Toy Rotation


Toys are wonderful things. They can stimulate creativity, provide entertainment, and have the potential to enrich the childhood experience. But there can be too much of a good thing. Has your child ever come to you, complaining of boredom and dramatically declaring that there is nothing to do? But when you look around, the floors are littered with numerous sets of toys, half-worked puzzles, and mismatched games. Toys that you and grandparents spent lots of money on! How can they be so ungrateful?

As adults, we are (largely) aware of how our workspace impacts our state of mind, ability to work effectively, and our level of creativity. When there is too much in front of us that is demanding our attention, we can become paralyzed or ineffective. Where do we even begin? I felt this way about cleaning my house just today!

It is the same way with our kids. While variation in their toys can have a positive impact, unorganized quantity can render them useless. Even though play is different than work, our minds function similarly in both scenarios. The less that is immediately in front of us demanding our attention, the more focused we can be on the task at hand, allowing our minds to exert energy on depth instead of surface management.

When it comes to toy organization, the best place to start is with a simple box system, a concept that I have written about previously. The boxes enable you to easily store the toys in a variety of locations such as in closets, on shelves, under beds, or in the attic. The next step is to implement a toy rotation. Every few months, rotate out the toys from deeper storage into storage that is readily accessible to the kids. Then encourage them to only get out one or two boxes of toys at a time. This allows them to be completely focused on the play at hand. When they decide at some point that they want to move on to the next activity, clean-up expectations are clearly defined: return the first activity(s) to their boxes before taking out another.

You will quickly find that the toys take on a new life, as well as an increase in your child’s attention span and creativity. And all it took was a few little boxes.

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(Deep Cleaning) Pre-Christmas Toy Purge

The month before Christmas is a perfect time to do a toy purge. The biggest reason is because kids are often more willing to part with their junk old toys when you tell them it is to make room for their new Christmas presents.

So one day this week when you don’t feel like braving the cold or the crowds for last minute shopping, spend a couple of hours doing a toy purge. Have one bag for trash and then another bag for toys to donate. A couple of hours spent now can save your sanity after Christmas.


Tip: Don’t make your ambitions for this project so great that it is overwhelming and you don’t do it at all. If you only have an hour to spend on the task, then adjust your expectations accordingly. This does not have to be a complete toy organization overhaul. A brief, high-level toy purge can make a HUGE difference.

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(Organization) Car Organization #1

cartoysMost of us spend quite a bit of time in our cars. And inevitably, time spent there often ends up being much longer than anticipated. We hit traffic, errands take longer than planned, or you find yourself waiting for somebody. Whatever the circumstances, it is miserable for everybody when the kids are bored and tired of being in the car.

Be prepared for those unexpected travel time extensions by keeping a small to moderately sized basket of toys in your car or van. You can include coloring books, travel games, small toys, and hand-held activities. The basket gives the toys a contained home when they are not being used and the toys will hold added interest because they are outside of the kids’ normal toy rotation. That thoughtful selection of toys will be your saving grace when your trip takes an unexpected turn.

*Tip#1 – If you have a smaller car or more passengers, making space an issue, keep your small basket of toys in the trunk. Usually when there are long delays, you usually have an opportunity to get out of the car to access the trunk. This keeps the toys handy but out from underfoot. Another solution is to purchase a bag that attaches to the back of a car seat, leaving you with the needed foot room.

*Tip #2 – There are frequently places we go that do not have ready entertainment for kids. Instead of packing a bag of toys every time or when you come to one of these situations unexpectedly, the toy basket is mobile and ever-ready to entertain!

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(Parenting) Quality Toys

As our thoughts turn towards holidays, many of us start to think about gift ideas for our kids. Yet as we look around at our full closets and overflowing toy boxes, we see piles of cheap and broken toys and the much-coveted, yet short-lived toy wonders. Most of us parents would agree that we would rather have quality over quantity when it comes to toys, but the application of that ideal often gets lost between the pleading eyes, the desire to shower our kids with with everything good, and well-meaning grandparents. But ultimately, quality does trump quantity. Most fad toys and almost anything with batteries won’t make it through the year, let alone turn into an treasured toy that lasts through the rest of the children or even grandchildren. As adults, we look back lovingly on what we refer to as “classic toys” because they come from an era where quality did prevail over quantity. They are from a time when children had fewer toys.

Here are a few tips to help direct your steps as you try to gradually build your supply of high-quality toys:

1. Lay out a long term vision for your toy collection.

2. Buy toy collections that can be added onto such as Legos, Playmobil, Little People, dollhouses, dress-up, etc. This gives gift-givers a general guide for purchases. It also allows the child to develop more focused play. By expanding their options within an already-existing collection, they will return more frequently to that toy set to expand, grow, and tweak their previous play experiences. This ultimately enhances creative play.

3. Find a couple of websites that sell toys of the more classic nature and forward those to extended family gift-givers. Additionally, you can usually request a free catalog from the company and pass those on to your children to look through. This helps direct your child’s thoughts away from the advertisements of this year’s popular toys and towards more classic toys.

4. Select toy collections that can be used across multiple age groups and can grow with the child.

5. Ask yourself if the toy requires the child to create something (mentally or physically) and move away from toys that simply entertain.

As you focus more on building a collection of quality toys, you will probably find that it grows more slowly, but look around you again. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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(Deep Cleaning) Outdoor Toys

outdoortoysAfter a summer of fun in the sun, our once-shiny outdoor toys have lost their sparkle. Or maybe it is just hidden beneath the muddy hand prints. Whatever the case, if you are like me, their loss of appeal might lead you to just ignore them and leave them on the back patio for most of the winter. Here they endure more wear-and-tear from the elements and lose even more of their appeal as they attain the “unused clutter” status. Then by the time spring rolls around, the kids are less than enthused about playing with most of them or they are ruined, leading you to purchase more and start all over again.

On one of the few warm days that we have left before cold weather is here to stay, spend a couple of hours outside sorting and cleaning the toys. Some outdoor toys are short-lived and seasonal by nature, so go ahead and throw those out. Give the rest a good scrubbing or wipe-down and then put them away in the garage or attic for the winter. This will extend the life of the toys and remove the clutter from your backyard.

And the best part? When warm weather comes back around and you pull the toys out of storage, they will hold a fresh appeal to your kids and the adventures will begin again.