“It looks like a bomb went off in here!”
This be the rallying cry of despondent parents everywhere before they threaten to throw all the toys in the garbage if the kids don’t clean up, then suspend the kids’ television privileges for a week because they did a piss-poor job of cleaning up, then just tidy up the playroom themselves. Parents shove the books back in the over stuffed bookcase, pile the toys in the rounded over toy boxes and throw out 3 broken crayons.
The cycle will repeat exactly tomorrow.
The problem of course is that there are too many toys. You can’t just take a bunch of toys and throw them because it will probably cause loud, petulant tantrum problems. Do it by halves once the children are in bed/school/out for the day.
Blocks, megabloks, Lego, etc are the easiest. Sit thyself down in front of the pile of blocks with two boxes. Place one blue 2×4 block in one box, and one 2×4 blue block in the other. Red 4×4 in one box, red 4×4 in the other. Etc. Place one box of blocks in the trunk of your car and donate promptly.
Fewer dolls means fewer clothes strewn about. In my daughter’s case she only has 2 Barbies, one long haired, one short, so she’d know if one went missing. But she has 3 little baby dollies. You’ve even seen some of them in blogs about doll clothes. The bigger one and one smaller one stayed. The other one vanished into a box.
You’ve seen your children play with the dolls, you know which clothing they always wear because you’re they one that always has to do up the buttons. Anything the dolls don’t wear, into the box.
Your child doesn’t think it’s “cool” for a doll to wear a bandana, no matter how well hand stitched; the box. Into the box with anything fiddly, and any piece small enough to get lost (a preemptive strike against a futile and frustrating search later when she “NEEDS” it), then; one shirt in this pile, one shirt in the box.
Toy cars and trucks, half and half. The kids still have plenty of cars to play with and won’t notice that many more of them are gone. You’ll just notice that the toy box lid closes. Stay away from the Thomas the Trains.
Colouring books and colouring implements
Check the implements for damage, broken crayons are trash because it is a law of childhood that no child shall ever make use of a broken crayon. If the pencil crayon is too short for me to hold when I’m colouring with the kids, I toss him too.
Flip through the colouring books, if every page has been marked on, even if there’s still plenty of Angry Bird or Mickey Mouse to colour, throw it out. Another childhood law, only pristine pages can be coloured. Check all the markers. No mark = trash.
They’ve already been removed from your children’s toys consciousnesses anyway. Car with wobbly wheel, Barbie dress with lace torn off (trust me, you’re not going to fix that), plastic firefighter that leaned on the heater, got disfigured and became a pariah from normal play- THROW OUT. The Grinch movie that has been so loved it’s been scratched beyond playability, toss it. It’s a popular Diveo (as my son calls DVDs), you can replace it once it’s missed. A novelty Christmas special you can’t stand, into the box.
If half of the rock collection disappearing would attract notice, go with a third. Same with stickers.
Dress up clothes
We have a bin of these but there are a few pieces that never get worn. I think they’re clever pieces and why wouldn’t any kid be pleased as punch to wear them, but heck, I don’t understand all the laws of childhood so into the box.
This one is my weakness, but the laws of physics state, in a round about way, that I have to be able to live in my space so we can’t keep them ALL. Again, sit thee in front of two big boxes and the pile of books. Book never read, never looked at, The Donate Box. Book read seldom, story a bit too gruesome, moral lesson deplorable; The Box. Bad poetry, story deemed as “silly” by kids, even if you love it; Box, car trunk, deserving local school.
To make cleanup easier for them/me, to keep novelty novel and to help them play, I rotate the kids’ toys. Let me explain that last one because it’s scientific. If kids are bombarded with too many choices, their little brains go bang and they come whine at you that there’s nothing to do. Less is more.
After I’d downsized the dolls, clothes and furniture, Daughter was dressing and taking the remaining three little ones for a walk in the park. Before this, I honestly thought she had no interest in dolls because she never played with them. I guess she just had too many to chose to use.
If you find you are rotating the same batch OUT of circulation a lot, maybe just rotate it into The Box.
Odds and ends
My daughter saw me file my nails once and of course wanted a nail file of her own. The next Avon sale I got her one for 39 cents. She filed once or twice then left the thing lying around to be stepped on. Novelty worn off, into the trash. Son got a “flick the ball into the cup” toy at a birthday party. After he’d played with it for an amount of time I deemed as “enough” (right around the time I was talking to myself “where am I going to put all this sh-t?”), into the trash.
A toy they couldn’t share if their lives depended on it, BOX. That’s for your sanity.
The operative word here is TWO. Two fitted sheets, two sheets, two pillow cases (well, four for me, I like to double up), two summer blankets, two winter blankets. The rest, in The Box.
Same as the books really, but easier to do. Not watched, not watched much, questionable moral lessons, annoy the piss out of the parent all equal The Box.
Oh boy, this is a toughie. Again, sit thine arse in front of two boxes. Loved and played with = stays. Not popular, no matter how much YOU love it or how much guilt it’s dripping in because of who gave it, be strong and In The Box. Trust me, the clean playroom will fix your emotional trauma better than any therapist.
No guilt, just tidiness.
It’s also a good idea to go through this exercise before every birthday and Christmas.