Clear the decks

Now that there are new toys to be enjoyed in your house, this is a good time of year to clear the decks of things your kids are done with. If you can do it with your kids all the better.  You’ll need a bag for the give-aways (younger family members, neighbors, charity) and one for throw away.

For some kids, putting old toys away can be too upsetting.  I once watched a three year old absolutely paralyze her high-powered attorney mom with a dispute about donating her crib mobile. If you’re in one of those power struggles with your kids, put the toys in a big box with their name on it. The toys will be put away for them–for another calmer day. You can also do the clean up without them–for some kids (and grown ups) this is the only way to do it.  A clean room with their new things front and center- may spark some “hey, what happpened to my….” but they quickly move on.  Obviously you don’t chuck their favorite huggable even though it looks completely chewed and gross…but chances are they won’t put up much of a fuss about the old sets of shape sorters that they have been done with for years.

Why does it matter? Having a clean, uncluttered play space allows kids to focus and be active thinkers and players.  An architect friend of mind once said, “if you have a good space to  work in, you can then go about your life– other wise you’re always navigating through the mess.” The same is true about play experiences–if you’re in a room that’s cluttered with junk, it’s hard to focus on any one prop for pretend or a wonderful new construction set.  Distractions are everywhere. If you have a child with ADHD this is particularly important to achieve for your child.

For toddlers who are terrific at the “let’s pull everything off the shelf” trick,   limit the choices of things they can explore at any given time.  If there are only three toys on a shelf that they can reach, chances are they will sit down and explore those toys.  Those quiet moments are the goal–and that’s where the value of play kicks in.  You can’t blame your two year old for pulling everything down–that becomes the game, not any of the wonderful things you have brought home.

So go for it….


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