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Before you head to the toy store, practice the three R’s

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It’s hard to look at the overflowing bucket of toys in your kid’s room and get excited to get them more useless pieces of plastic. I don’t mean to sound like a Scrooge, but my spoiled, American children have way too much.

I’m not going to go berserk and cancel Christmas or anything. Because you can’t cancel Christmas, it happens with or without the gifts, as the Whos in Whoville have proven. No, I just decided to do a “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle” on my children’s toys before the unwrapping of another useless piece of plastic.

Reduce – This first step I would do alone. Take a garbage bag and go through the room and throw out any toys that are broken beyond repair, stained beyond Tide-ability, contagious or booger-ridden. You definitely don’t want your kid around to see what is going in the garbage. You and I know that the headless pirate has got to go, but little Kylee, Kaylee, Haley, or Halle, may have another idea.

You would be surprised how quickly that garbage bag fills up and how much emptier the toy bucket will look.

Reuse – Your children own so many toys that they don’t play with just because the batteries are dead or the game is missing a crucial piece. Take the time to replace batteries and reunite toys and games with their important parts to make them fully functional again. It will be like Christmas morning in advance when your kids re-discover some of their well-loved toys and put them back in rotation. If you are lucky you might even save some dough by being able to cross some toys off your list because you were able to revive some old ones.

Recycle – This step is the most important and you will definitely want your kids’ help with this. Have them go through their toys and decide which ones they will donate to less-fortunate kids. Encourage them to be generous. Talk with them about how lucky they are and how happy they could help make another child feel. Then, don’t just put the box in the back of your car and drop it off at your convenience. Have the kids go with you to the thrift store, Goodwill, or shelter (wherever you are going to donate), and have them carry in the box and donate them personally.

This sort of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle ritual will help you feel less like a sucker and also help your Kylee, Kayle, Haley, or Halle understand and appreciate the reason for the season even more.

-Annie Payne

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Comments
  • comment avatar Karin Piper December 17, 2008

    Annie, My kids too fall in the spoiled rotten category. I usually give my kids a heads up before I come to go through the madness. It gives them the opportunity to participate.
    I invite them to sort out toys that they can “sell,” whether it’s Ebay, garage sale or Craig’s. If they sell the item they keep the cash and we trade ten toys for one this way.
    Whatever doesn’t sell, or if I came with my donation sack, it is just that–donation.
    Annie, thank you for posting this. I have so many mixed feelings during the holidays with all the things we have and all the things many other’s don’t. I should probably add that we are participants in various charities year round.

  • comment avatar Terra December 17, 2008

    I do this twice a year….but the big “dump” always happens in November just before Santa arrives. It really is a life saver and helps the girls learn about giving to others too…my biggest pet peeve are those junk toys (mcdonalds, impulse buys etc)

  • comment avatar jen December 17, 2008

    I do this when the chaos gets just too much for my brain to handle. I’ve done the reduce and reuse and am working up to the recycle. But this year, in addition to that, I asked relatives to please get them something other than toys. So far we have a membership to the Museum of Nature and Science (and it has reciprocity with the museums in Chicago, so we’re using it well this week!), magazine subscriptions, and some DVDs. My kids have so much STUFF and I’m getting tired of it.

  • comment avatar Lori December 17, 2008

    What a timely post, Annie.

    Are you saying everything with boogers has to go?

    Rock ON!

  • comment avatar Kagey December 17, 2008

    The key to this for me is getting it out of the house. I have been dumping things in a spare bedroom for almost a year. Now’s the time to box it up for ARC to take away!

  • comment avatar snoflake22 December 17, 2008

    I’ve been making sweeps of our toy boxes this week….I like the idea of putting new batteries in etc.
    I do regularly have the kids give things away…my problem is they are too generous! They want to keep one toy and give the rest away! 🙂

  • comment avatar MileHighDad December 17, 2008

    Two more R’s
    Refund
    Don’t be afraid to return those unused, not popular, new toys and get something more liked that will get played with.
    Receipts
    As in save them!
    -MileHighDad
    http://www.milehighdadnet/
    http://www.incoloradonow,com/

  • comment avatar Klin December 17, 2008

    You and I think alike. I have been doing this before each box comes into the house. The kiddos must sit in the garage (which is better than in the snow, in my book) and decide what they will donate, what’s broken, and what they can’t live without. THEN it’s my turn. Much less is coming in to the new, bugger house than came out of the old, much, much, smaller home.

  • comment avatar nancy face December 18, 2008

    Wonderful ideas! I need to do all three of them with my youngest. (He’s 13, but is kind of sentimental about hanging on to toys from his younger days, which just take up too much space.)

    I never thought of having my kids come and donate their stuff personally…you are a genius! 🙂

  • comment avatar physcokity December 27, 2008

    I still think that even if you don’t have kids that this would be a good thing to do when you approach the holiday season…or rather most any change of season.

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