Before every Christmas and birthday I try to have a toy cull. My kids are far from spoilt but we have very generous friends who give us hand me downs and I’m incapable of saying no to generous donations! All this means our toy room (which was meant to be a lovely conservatory for me and my hubby to enjoy) is packed with toys of every shape and size. So, before Santa makes his move down the chimney I have to make some room for the next load of toys.
As any parent knows it’s almost impossible to get rid of old toys. Once you’ve got over your own sentimental attachment to some random cuddly toy or dog-eared book, you have to persuade your little one that they no longer want that battered old car or broken doll. So what to do?
Obviously you never attempt to involve your children in the toy blitz – this is the road to frustration, tears and tantrums with the end result being you haven’t shifted as much as a single Lego brick. The minute you unearth a toy they haven’t touched for a year it will become their instant favourite. “But I love that..” will be ringing in your ears. Even toys they have blatantly grown out of will become hot property and played with like long lost treasure. Which is how my six year old came to spend an hour on an old Leapfrog game and my three year old son was pushing bricks into a shape sorter that was heading for the charity bag.
I once quite foolishly tried to donate some of the toys I’d sorted to a play group I run – sadly my three year old was too switched on and spent the whole 90 minutes collecting all ‘his toys’ back in and refusing to let anyone else play with them! FAIL!
So you have to be a little bit more sly and devious when wanting to have a clear our – this is a job that takes some planning! The best time to do it is obviously when they are at school or in bed but do be prepared for the questions when that never-played with toy is suddenly and inexplicably missed (because believe me it’s sods law that it will be). Faced with this situation I have one friend who just lies. When her girls ask where a particular Barbie is she shakes her head and says “It must be there somewhere. Look harder” Double success – the distraction of hunting for the ‘lost toy’ keeps them entertained for a while and in looking for one toy they unearth some others that haven’t seen the light of day for ages and the original is forgotten again!
If you don’t fancy the bare faced lie you could try the slow withdrawal. I move unwanted toys into the loft or cupboard under the stairs. If the excluded toy isn’t asked for in three weeks it moves on to a new home whether through ebay or a charity shop! To my mind if they don’t ask for it, they haven’t missed it, so it can go.
So far this year’s cull has resulted in a big bag of books and a few toys heading off to new homes but as December 25 draws near I know I need to bite the bullet and head back in for round two! Wish me luck…