Well, one of the things about moving to Thailand is that there isn’t much room in our luggage to bring the entire room full of toys and clothes belonging to my children. Over the years I’ve tried many things to help them cut down on the number of toy they have. We’ve had them go through their toys and choose 10 things to give away once a week. And that sort of works, but it doesn’t get the number low enough for our purposes. I’ve tried disappearing things after they are in bed, but they are able to remember toys now and will inevitably ask me where the bunny with the flower on it that the Girl gave to the Boy for his birthday went.
I thought I’d share what I’ve done since the too many presents season is soon upon us all.
So here is what I’ve been doing the past two weeks, and already the toy basket is almost empty.
After the kids go to bed, I put anything still lying around into a big plastic garbage bag, toys, clothes, shoes, jackets, etc.
I told them I would do this before I did it the first night and we had a practice day. I put everything I could find in the bag, from under the bed, from in the corners of the room, from the closet floor. I had a pretty full bag by the time I was done. The next day I waited until the middle of the afternoon and asked them if they noticed anything missing. They hadn’t.
So I dumped out the contents of the bag on the bedroom floor and told them that they needed to put things away or the next night they would be gone for good. (With one caveat. Every night that I don’t find anything of theirs on the floor, they can choose one item from the bag that they can get back.) To my surprise, they sifted through the stuff a little bit and then put at least half of it back in the back.
It’s helping them to learn to prioritize and choose the things they really care about, and they get to be part of the decision making process of what goes and what they keep.
The Girl has been just putting the things she really loves away and leaving the rest out for me to pick up, which is fine, because we have cut down drastically on the number of stuffed animals underfoot that way. She’s pretty diligent to clean up the next day if something she wants makes its way into the bag the night before.
The hardest part is not rescuing toys that I care about when they don’t. We’ll be finding a worthy charity to take it all to in December. Probably the orphanage in Mexico the family is going to help out at.
Want more great tips? Go to Rocks in My Dryer.