The end of the year is always a difficult time for me… only because my bad housekeeping always catches up with me during the time! The biggest source of my stress are, you guessed it, my kids’ toys, toys, toys.
Come November, I just want to curl up in a ball, close my eyes and wish for a magic genie to do the cleaning for me. Space is precious, no matter how big or small it is. A big room ends up cluttered and a small one becomes even smaller, right?
I’m no minimalist, but I do know that I need to keep the number of my children’s toys (and books!) at bay. So, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day found me trashing and boxing “bad” toys. Those were usually character-based toys that they got as gifts or from party loot bags and toys that needed batteries to work.
Before beginning my mission, I made a category checklist in my mind to help me and my kids decide which toys were worth keeping and giving space to. Toys worth keeping are not just for entertainment, but benefit kids too as they play. Here are our magic seven of toys worth keeping:
1. Wooden blocks
If my five-year-old son were to choose just one toy to play with the whole day, it would be his well-loved wooden blocks. I marvel at how engrossed he becomes when creating stories, places and things.
Why we’re keeping them: The wooden blocks are must-haves in my book for encouraging imagination and creativity. With a big basket full of different blocks, I’m still salivating over the uniform-sized Keva planks, which I discovered from a fellow homeschooling mom… but where will I put it?!
2. Lego pieces
Though Lego pieces (and similar toys) can hurt oh-so-much (in the pocket and on the foot when you step on it!), I’ve accepted, embraced and found a space for it in our playroom. And since we have more than enough toys, when my siblings asked me what my kids would like for Christmas, I said either clothes or classic Lego pieces. (We got a Minecraft set and I’m not complaining!)
Why we’re keeping them: Like wooden blocks, Lego gives children the opportunity to create and let their imaginations run wild. And I’m not forgetting the exercise it gives little fingers when putting together those pieces – a great fine motor activity!
3. Card and board games
I got fascinated with board games when we invited Ludo Boardgame Bar & Cafe to one of our parent education workshops. They introduced me to interesting and exciting games that the whole family can enjoy, and we now even carry some of the games that we enjoy at the shop.
Why we’re keeping them: Card and board games are great for family bonding time. If you choose wisely, you can even help your kids acquire or practice skills while playing! Little Sir’s most recent favorites, pictured above, are Sherlock, which is an exciting memory game, Papa Bear which is a fun game that helps in visual perception, while Left to Right provides practice in following directions.
4. Pretend costumes and accessories
I roll my eyes and complain a lot about the mess after my children are done with a joyful pretend play session… but that’s another matter. In reality, I’m thrilled that they get to play with different materials ingeniously. Little Sir and Little T fashion their own costumes based on whatever we’re reading (or watching, in the case of Star Wars), so I’m happy to reserve closet space for various odds and ends.
Why we’re keeping them: Pretend play provides children the opportunity to act out what they have heard, seen or learned. And you don’t have to buy those character-based costumes for kids to enjoy pretend play. Give them cloth, hats, belts and they’ll happily inhabit a world of their own for hours.
5. Educational toys
I. Am. A. Hoarder. Of. Educational. Toys.
There I said it. I can’t help myself. I keep buying stuff for different subjects or topics that my kids and I might use now and in the future. I often find similar items in my stash and can only say, “Ooow!” I admit, this category is the most difficult one to weed out from. But hey, I have three kids who will eventually use these toys for lessons!
Why we’re keeping them: Whether you homeschool or not, providing children with hands-on experience can be really beneficial. When reading dry textbooks, a ready-to-run experiment can make concepts clear and tangible.
My Little Sir enjoys puzzles these days — giant jigsaws, tangrams and logic puzzles. Ever since putting the puzzles where he can easily get them, I’ve been noticing him choosing at least one puzzle a day.
Why we’re keeping them: Little minds work when their little hands are busy. Puzzles are good for the brain. It encourages concentration, visual perception and logical thinking, and practices fine motor skills too.
7. Outdoor play toys
Maybe after buying so many toys for so many years, I really got sick of my kids having so many that they don’t get to play with most anyway. For Christmas, my husband and I just gave our kids a junior-sized basketball and a hula hoop, which were both met with excitement and enthusiasm.
Why we’re keeping them: Outdoor play toys like trampolines, slides, basketballs and hula hoops all encourage kids to move and improve their gross motor skill.
Though we still have too many toys, I’m relieved that the ones that we chose to keep are truly worth keeping based on entertainment value and available learning opportunities.
How do you choose which toys to keep for your kids?