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Dealing with “toy overload”

When you’ve got kids, you’ve got toys. With the holidays, come more toys. While this is a busy time of year, it’s worth setting aside a few hours to sort through some of that stuff that has accumulated to make room for… more stuff!

I have given away many toys over the years, as my older boys have outgrown or lost interest in them. It feels good to recycle and give less fortunate families a brighter Christmas. For several years, I thought our family of four was complete. Fortunately for our recent addition, baby #3, I did save some of our nice, classic toys (to pass on someday to our grandchildren, or so I thought!).

We still have our train table and huge container full of Thomas and Brio trains, tracks, buildings and more. Wooden trains are classic, something to pass down to the next generation. I recommend hanging on to them even when you’re kids have outgrown them, to give to your grandkids someday. Giving or loaning them to family members is another option but if lending is what you intend to do, be clear about your intentions.

Other classic toys worth storing away include wooden blocks, shape sorters, building sets such as Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys, certain dolls, books and wood puzzles. These toys stimulate creativity and things like hand/eye coordination.

Toys with sentimental value are also worth saving. Some classics change over the years but it can be fun to store away your or your children’s editions for grandkids or future guests to enjoy. I have the Fisher Price schoolhouse that I played with as a little girl, which was fun for my older kids to inherit and play with (and will be enjoyed by our 7 month old, I hope!). I wish my mom had held onto more Fisher Price classics, like the school-bus, dollhouse and farm. Fortunately, I saved the ones we bought for our older boys, so our little guy can play with them someday, too.

Classic games like checkers, Candyland, and Chutes and Ladders are nice to keep around (their look may change but the games cross the generations).

So what do I recommend tossing or giving away? Usually the toys that quickly lose their appeal for kids, particularly the trendy things that are “in” one year and “out” the next are safe to give away. Trendy things like character-themed toys and dolls usually won’t be missed.

Of course, the really junky, “no-name” plastic stuff that was made in China can be tossed (you may have tossed them already, due to health or safety concerns).

There are definitely some toys I wish I’d held onto but didn’t, like our older boys’ elaborate Playmobil sets. We were never organized enough to keep all the pieces together. Our youngest child would definitely have enjoyed these. If we do buy him well-made, expensive toys such as these, I will try to keep them in tact for future grandkids.

As my kids have grown older, it’s become clearer just which toys stand the test of time and which are best donated to someplace, or someone, else. I’ll be steering clear of the low-quality stuff with our new baby, if he’ll let me.

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