Everyone says that Christmas is about children, and anyone who has kids will know the truth of that. Adults may open a modest pile of gifts on Christmas morning, but it’s when the children get started that you know you’re in for the long haul!
The Land of Plenty
Children get inundated with presents at Christmas for two main reasons; they seem to expect it and parents don’t want to disappoint their offspring. Watching your child’s excitement on Christmas morning can be one of the best aspects of the day, and it helps to make up for all the hard work and expense.
But when the excitement and festivities are over comes the reckoning; a host of new toys, games and gadgets to house in an already crowded child’s room.
The best way to prepare for Christmas is to de-clutter. All children have a few favourite toys which they play with continually, along with a room full of toys that just seem to gather dust. As children grow and mature however, old favourites will become discarded for new ones. In addition, once they start school, peer pressure will become a factor and they often want whatever their friends have got.
How many ‘must have’ toys have been bought due to peer pressure; which affects parents as well as children! And how many of these ‘must-have’ toys or gadgets lie discarded by the next Christmas?
The possessions which your children no longer play with are clutter to them and to you, but your child can often be reluctant to give them away.
Out of Sight Is Out of Mind
I’ve found that one effective technique is to offer to pack unused items into boxes and put them away in a cupboard or the loft. This way they are not under your feet, it is easier for your child to keep their room tidy, and it frees up space for new Christmas presents. Once the toys have been packed away for six months or a year, your child may have out-grown them anyway and it is likely that they will be more willing to part with them.
Another technique that works well for me was to offer to sell some of my children’s toys on eBay. My son’s eyes lit up at the thought of acquiring some money for the toys he never played with and he willingly selected some which he was happy to part with. Car boot sales can also be a great way to sell excess toys.
School fayres which need donations for toy or book stalls are also useful for persuading children to part with clutter. My children’s primary school used to allow them to wear mufti if they took a donation for one of the stalls; and as no child wanted to be the only one in uniform, they were keen to select some offerings; just make sure you persuade them not buy even more clutter at the fayre!
Emulate Ernie Wise
Finally we could all learn something from the comedian Ernie Wise. His comedy partner Eric Morecambe always joked that Ernie’s wallet was covered in cobwebs because he so rarely opened it. If you’re suffering from last Christmas’s clutter then don’t make the same mistake again! Buy less for your child and you’ll be solving the problem before it happens. Children have too many toys, games and gadgets; which is why most of them never get touched after the first enthusiasm wears off. Christmas has become very commercial, but you can redress this trend in your own family. Make the celebration more about playing games, eating a lovely meal together and having fun as a family, than about receiving gifts.
Start De-Cluttering Now
The trick is to start early. Once Christmas is upon us we will be manically busy shopping for gifts, writing out cards and putting up decorations, so you need to de-clutter now!
Every toy, game or gadget you remove from your child’s room will free up space; your child won’t find tidying such a chore, and will be able to better enjoy the toys that are left; there will be room for their new gifts, and you will feel a lot less stressed during the festive period.
While you’re at it, de-clutter the rest of the house too. You are much more likely to experience a calm, relaxed and joyful Christmas if you make room for it in your home and in your mind.
I initially wrote this blog post at the request of the website Mojomums.co.uk and it was published there in November 2012. It remains my copyright.