Smart Parenting for Busy & Imperfect People

“To Trash Old Toys or Not to Trash, That is the Question…”

“To trash old toys, or not to trash, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous chaos,
Or to take arms against a sea of random parts and pieces
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep, no more.”

In my rendition of Shakespeare’s great existential soliloquy contemplating the nature of action, we ironically touch upon a great problem of first world families.  We have so many toys, we don’t know what to do.  While the decision to take action and dispose of superfluous toys is far less profound a debate than that of contemplating human existence, it is nonetheless taxing.  Why must we look at, step upon and put up with random, old toys that are missing parts and pieces or were never any good to begin with in the first place.  Really, the Happy Meal toys and dollar store discoveries have had their day, so why can’t we just throw them away!

Humans are funny about our stuff.  We like knowing that even if we are not using an item NOW, that we may use it in the future.  We also have a sentimental side and we place value in our old stuff because it connects us to our memories.  How sad to throw out the Captain America action toy with one arm, because it was the first Happy Meal toy that kiddo ever received.  But, the truth is that our kiddo doesn’t even play with it, nor does he care that it exists.

Because I don’t believe “tis better in the mind to suffer” than to toss or donate old things, here is a three step plan to help you reduce clutter and unnecessary toys.  Doing so can help make clean-up time a cinch and can bring tranquility to your mind and home.

1) Select a bin or tupperware of a reasonable size to store your keepsakes.  Only put items in this bin that have meaning to you and that you no longer use.  If you run out of space in the keepsake bin, then go back through it and decide which items have lost meaning to you and can be tossed.

2) Take pictures of the items that have meaning to you but are not worth storing in your keepsake bin.  All those cute baby outfits, favorited and now unfavorited toys or items with sentimental attachment (like Grandpa’s hand-carved truck that never worked and gave everyone splinters).  Now you can always reconnect with these items without having to store, trip upon or deal with them daily.

3) Sort the remaining items that didn’t go into the keepsake bin into two piles: trash or donate.  Broken toys that are missing pieces or have wear and tear need to be thrown out.  If you can’t stomach tossing them, ask a friend to do it for you.  Items that you are done with, but may still have value can be donated to a good cause, given to a friend or even sold on Craigslist and Ebay.  I like to complete this process twice a year.  As I part with some of my favorite things, I try to imagine the faces of the people who get to enjoy them next, instead of lamenting a cherished time in my life that is now over.  Take a deep breath, and say good-bye.

Now, look in your closets or play-spaces and enjoy the fact that the random, broken, odd toys that you can’t stand looking at are gone.  Everything has a home and looks tidy.  No more randomness.  Savor the peace, tranquility and reason “to be.”  Well, I suppose I shouldn’t take it that far…


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