The extravagant generosity of family and friends results in a post-holiday embarrassment of riches for many American children. Toy chests already bursting at the seams are now challenged by the influx of a new slew of toys.
New parents may be surprised to learn that Toy Management is a skill they’ll use for years to come. Every family needs a system for making a child’s favorite toys easily accessible.
In the case of children’s toys, less is definitely more. A child with three toys will play the daylights out of all three. A child with a hundred toys will wander around in a daze, complaining he has nothing to do.
Smart parents describe a variety of ways to handle too many toys.
First, box up toys which seem to be of no interest to your child and donate them to a charity which will distribute them to kids who may enjoy them. Make sure they’re in good condition with all their parts and no broken pieces.
If there are younger siblings in the family, pack away toys those little ones might enjoy later. Toys previously used by an admired older sibling can be s special as hand-me-down sweaters or boots.
Invite another family over to play. Children rediscover their toys when they see other children having fun with them. Arrange a toy swap—they take a few of your toys home for a week in exchange for lending you some of theirs.
Show no mercy to toys that are broken, annoying or have no play value. They are an offense to your child’s development and don’t deserve their space on the toy shelf.
The toys that remain—those with high play value that your child loves—can learn to take turns. Pack away a few to be brought out again next month. Seeing a favorite toy return to play is as much fun as receiving a present.
Play is every child’s work, and toys are the tools children use for that work. Building with blocks is the beginning of a child’s spatial awareness. Pretend play with dolls and other figures promotes social and emotional development. Crayons and paint help them to use their hands, their eyes and their imaginations.
Children’s playthings can be a mess. But the opportunities they bring for learning and fun make managing the mess worth the effort.