I’m in that dangerous mode again…clean out mode. It happens a few times a year. While others may hoard, my illness is the need to go on “purging” rampages where no child’s drawing, high school yearbook, or family heirloom is safe from the circular file.
Don’t get me wrong- what can be recycled or donated will be. But I do tend to get rid of things very quickly, and sometimes have regretted my quick trigger finger.
But this year, I’m trying something different. The clutter in my house has GOT TO GO, but instead of immediately giving away my kids’ unused, under-appreciated, or just-too-complicated-and-messy-to-bother-with toys, I am putting them away into what I’m calling, “the summer toy box.” In this box will contain toys, activities, and crafts to be taken out... one at a time.. to be done with me.
With the creation of this box (or closet, depending on how much stuff I find), I hope to do a few things: 1) find new life for good toys that never got their day in the sun, 2) allow my kids to occasionally feel like they’re getting a new treat (without my spending anything), 3) force myself to actually sit down and play with my kids, and 4) give myself an instant answer to the question, “Mom, what can we doooo?”
The best candidates for this box are toys and activities that require some parental guidance and set-up. Those are the toys in my house that tend to sit unused, or get immediately and irrevocably scattered, because I didn’t have the time/energy/focus/patience to sit down properly with my kids to show them how to do it. But now that they’re locked safely away, I can bring them out at my convenience, when we actually have the right amount of time to devote to them.
The only purchase I’ve made to aid me in this endeavor is something I usually don’t buy- Ziploc bags. With one package of gallon-sized bags (that can be reused many times!) I can create single craft projects as I slowly clean the house. I can ensure that every last piece of the puzzle will stay together. I can grab just one bag to throw into the car for swim meets, baseball games, or picnics.
So, in this summer of fewer camps, babysitters, and vacations than in years past, hopefully finding a new life for old toys will help us actually slow down and play with our kids and avoid the watch something/buy something/eat something trap of desperation parenting.