Christmas is Over

Growing YearsChristmas is over. Now, new toys are consuming your world, and you are about over it. Before you reach the next level and become truly frustrated, there is something you can do, that not only answers your immediate need, but also becomes a tool that will boost your parenting. It’s time to teach your child to sort (young child), or organize (older child) and give them the gift of becoming a true giver.

Tubs or totes with lids are very necessary for sorting and organizing. These are relatively inexpensive when purchased at Dollar General, Family Dollar or Wal-Mart and are a really good investment. They even work well on open shelves and are very stackable wherever you put them. The only “must” is, IT MUST BE IN YOUR CHILD’S ROOM OR PLAY SPACE! It needs to belong to your child. Before starting, take inventory of the kinds of toys to sort for a younger child. I like to sort by use, but you can sort by size, color, hard/soft, etc. Decide how many tubs you will need and the size. Save a little room for growth if you think there will be more toys acquired during the year (i.e. Thomas The Train pieces, My Little Pets, My Little Pony, etc.). Be sure to buy an extra tub for “giving.”

Once you have purchased the tubs, help your child sort new toys into appropriate tubs. Next, sort and mix the old toys with the new, or put it into the giveaway tub. Talk about giving to children who have no toys, or the church, or a preschool class. If your child has a hard time with the task, set a number to give up, and reward with hugs and encouragement. Talk about how the toy is too young for such a big boy/girl, etc. If it is too much for your child, let him/her choose a specified number of special younger toys to keep. Make this a pleasant task; help your child give up toys that are too young or no longer wanted, without trauma. Encourage your child to put toys away in the sorting tubs during the year.

An older child should be involved from the beginning, deciding how many tubs, what size is necessary to achieve the organization for his/her things, and what color works best. As with the younger child, have a giveaway tub. Help brainstorm different places to take the giveaway things (salvation army, second time around stores, neighborhood service stores, known families, habitat resale stores, Appalachian Outreach, etc.). Be proud of your child’s efforts and express your pride. Encourage continued organization during the coming year.

Inexpensive shelves can become good companions to the tubs. Or, make shelves inexpensively with cinder blocks, glass or acrylic blocks, bricks, or stacked tiles. Terracotta or colorful flower pots and boards also make interesting shelves. Use your imagination to embellish and/or paint the shelves. Don’t forget to let your child join in the fun!

Teaching the art of giving and becoming organized can be a lot of fun, for you and your child. Also, it sure beats the inevitable frustration caused by the clutter from too much Christmas stash.