To toy with the idea of gifts. It’s a scene that I know all too well as a professional nanny. I come to work and it looks like a toy factory or a toy shop. I know in my head that I will be spending half my time cleaning up, separating, washing, and organizing all the new toys from the holidays. Not to mention trying to find a place for all this stuff in their new toy kingdom. What I would rather be doing on a Monday is playing with the children and not on a toy hunt or wiping tears.
As a nanny, I recommend keeping up with the toys that your children have and the ones that they receive as gifts. When your child gets a new toy, try putting an old toy away for three or four months. This will help with keeping your child’s space fresh and organized. When you do bring out the toy, watch and see if that toy gets played with. If not, donate the toy or give it to a friend or a neighbor. Games, books, dress up and art materials can also be rotated every month or so.
Find a place for everything and clean up along the way. If your child is younger than ten, maybe he or she needs to have a picture as a reference to where a toy may go. I love having sections in the child’s play space. For example, art area, block area, stuffed animal area, doll baby area, book area or dress up area. If your family establishes this, your child can know where things go ‘without’ a lot of stress. This also teaches them about being organized. I love pointing out how nice it is that we can play longer together because we didn’t have to spend a lot of time searching for the airplanes this time. Kids soon realize this and will learn about the importance of being organized, which is a great skill to learn and, when they move out on their own, they will thank you.
I always tell parents that the kids room should be their room. This means that it should be a fun and SAFE place to be. If your kids want a book, but it’s too high for them to get, make sure that they can’t climb onto objects to get it. Better yet, bring the books down to their level. All the heavy toys should go on the lower shelves and the softer, lighter toys should go on the second or third shelf. If you have toys that are special and can break easily, place those toys in a shelf that has a lock. This will prevent any broken or dangerous toy in your child’s room that could hurt them if left in the room unattended. It also makes playtime so much more special when you only bring out certain toys at certain times. When I visit parents, I ask them to sit with me on the child’s floor and look around. I ask them to imagine what it would be like being their child’s size.
To toy with the idea of gifts. Make a schedule of what you will do with some of the toys. If you just noticed that Ron received a new Ipad, plan out certain times that are playing and learning times. If Britney just got a new tricycle, discuss with her the importance of wearing a helmet, and that she will keep her tricycle outside. Think about how to use new art supplies with the old so that everything gets rotated through. Have an art attack and invite a small group of friends over to create a work of art that can go into an exhibit at an arts centre, or on your fridge.
I know that sacrificing your hair in a hair donation for the locks of love is great. I also know the importance of feeling good when you do something for others. Have your children donate one toy to a local organization that helps others. Some great places for your children to donate is to a children’s hospital, a shelter, an after school program, a community building or to Family Giving Tree. Google “donating toys” in the search engine and from there you can make a family decision together. This could also be a monthly event to a favorite organization.