This makes the first few weeks of January tricky. The kids are back in school but their brand-new Christmas presents are still invading the living room. Something (or someone) has to give.
I've heard two schools of thought for toy gleaning.
One is that you are supposed to sort through toys with your children's help so they learn the value of organization, tidiness and charity.
The other method is to wait until the dead of night and just start bagging up things for Goodwill. That sounds harsh, but it can be the merciful option if you know that your daughter will become hysterically distraught over parting with a plastic telephone she hasn't played with in two years.
I usually go with the second choice, but it is in no way foolproof. Recently my kids caught me with a bag of toys in the trunk of our car that I hadn't found time to donate yet. My 3-year-old was ready to freak out, so I bluffed.
"Those are the emergency toys," I said. "In case our car breaks down and we need to play with Buzz Lightyear."
The real solution to all of this would be to buy fewer toys to start with. That's not a concept the grandmothers of the world usually embrace. You know who you are!
To keep things sane, I've tried rotating toys by keeping in the garage a tub of playthings that are "on vacation." The problem is that I trip over the tub every time I unload groceries.
The one Toyland victory I can claim is over stuffed animals. I'm allergic to dust, so my kids have just 12 stuffed animals between them and that's it.
"Young Lady, if you want that stuffed doggie then be prepared to say goodbye to Teddy!"
My mommy friends probably think I'm heartless for being so strict, but oh, well.
What I think is cruel is when parents allow their children's toys to drive themselves crazy. I'm guilty of this with a capital G. Every time I vacuum a room in which there are Legos I have to watch my language.
It would be really easy to start judging every parent out there for spoiling their kids rotten.
"Just make them give 25 percent of those toys away!"
But can you imagine if somebody said that to you about your (fill in the blank) hunting, camping, sewing, scrapbook, or DVD collection?
Maybe in the dead of night, your spouse has already cleaned the garage. Then one day you open the trunk of her car and see your extra duck blind back there.
"It's for emergencies," she says. "In case the car breaks down and Buzz Lightyear needs to hunt up some dinner."
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybaby toread.blog.com.
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