Spring Cleaning Baby! Hold onto your Toys!

Is it spring already?  You couldn’t tell looking outside our window today.  There was SNOW!  But I’ve been told it’s National Spring Cleaning Week (March 21 – March 27).  I must have known that subconsciously because I spent the weekend in what my kids think of as Toy Hell.  As the infant ages, we’ve rid the playroom and toy boxes of rattles and other infant toys and teethers, discarded toys that have passed their prime and ones that are missing too many pieces to pass as complete.  The toddler was forced to face the many toys that could hardly be called toys anymore.  She found some renewed beloveds but was actually quite content to say goodbye to some of her old friends.

LeapFrog, the leader in educational toys and content, offers 5 useful tips on how to makeover a playroom and keep toys around that are age appropriate, fun and clutter-free:

  1. The Great Toy Swap: Invite friends with children the same age to participate in a toy swap.  Gather at a friend’s house with your gently loved toys and allow kids to trade for other toys.  What a great idea! If only we could coordinate that from birth, our kids would be in toy heaven and never be wiser with the swaps!
  2. Take Inventory: Walk through the play room with your child and have them point out their favorite toys. Discover together what they play with the most and what they rarely pull from the toy chest.  This is also the time to look at toys that are broken and toss or have little pieces that might be dangerous for a younger sibling.
  3. Trading Game: Get your kids in on the fun of a playroom makeover by encouraging them to bag up toys they do not play with and donate to other kids in need.  For every bag of toys they donate, they can pick one new item. Yes, (1) toy per bag, not (1) toy per toy and make it a big bag if you’re on a budget.
  4. Keep it fun and educational: To ensure that play time is educational, interactive, and imaginative keep an even balance of toys. For example, LeapFrog® Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket and Count & Scan Shopper are fun toys that reinforce learning experiences children have in school such as sharing and group play.
  5. Contain, corral and control: Toy boxes and open shelves are no place to store your children’s knick-knacks (especially those involving many tiny parts). Use plastic shoebox containers for smaller toys, larger lidded bins for the bigger toys.  We got the Ikea Expedit bookshelf which fits in discreetly with the decor of our home and we love Container Store’s clean shoe boxes to neatly sort blocks, individual sets like Mr. Potato Head and all his many parts for a uniform look.

All in all, this family tossed a bag of stuffed animals and recycled 2 bags of plastic toys past their prime.  While I was quite proud of the toddler for happily cleaning up the playroom what was most warming was the ability to donate 3 bags of toys (in excellent condition, but outgrown) to our local church nursery and daycare.  We didn’t donate the plush animals because we couldn’t find a great way to sanitize them or ensure they were allergen free but the toys that could be cleaned and deemed safe for play were happily accepted.  Families who want to do the same can call their local United Way or local church, school or daycare facility.  Cleaning up can be FUN!