- To start out with, designate a special area to put all the toys. You can use a playpen, a blanket on the floor, or the bed. Pull out every toy from the toy box, hanging net, under the bed, wherever toys are kept and put them in this designated area.
- Look at the pile of toys with your child and thank God for giving your family so much.
- Have your child pull out his top ten favorite toys and put them where they belong (back in the toy box, on a shelf, in a hanging net, etc.).
- Have your child pick out his next top ten toys and put them where they belong. Continue this process until the various toy storage areas are full. Once an area is full, your child may not put any more toys there.
- When all the storage areas are full, there will probably still be toys in the designated area. Provide your child with a list of charities to donate them to and respect your child's choice.
- Talk about the children who will receive the toys. How do you think they'll feel? What will their faces look like when they see them? What will they do when they get them? Pray for these children and the joy they will have playing with their "new" toys.
- Marvel at the number of toys your child still has and give thanks for them.
- Put the toys you're donating into boxes or large trash bags to take to the donation site. Bring your child with you when you drop them off. Do this as soon as possible after weeding out the toys.
The good thing about weeding out toys this way is that your child still gets to keep all his favorites and the decisions on what to get rid of and what to keep are all his. I'd add one other suggestion. If there is an extra special toy or two that your child loves, they should be exempt from the weeding out. This would be the ones that your child sleeps with every night or takes everywhere, or maybe one that has special sentimental value to him or to you.
From the weeding out day forward, we had a rule that if our child got a new toy, then she had to find one of her old toys of equal size or value to get rid of. That way she knew there was always a price to pay for every toy we bought, even before she could understand the value of a dollar. It also minimized an overabundance of toys.
There are lots of ways to weed out toys. A friend used to take half the toys and put them away until July, when she'd bring them out again. I've heard of others who "rotate" the toys," while others have yard sales and let the kids keep the proceeds or use it for a mission project.
What about you? How do you avoid being overrun with toys? I'd love to hear from you!