The Best Holiday Cleanup Activity You Can Do with Your Children
The vast majority of us want our homes to look tidy and welcoming over the holidays, and this can be super difficult when you have kids. You clean, they mess it up. You clean again. They mess it up again. Sunrise. Sunset. Before you resort to downing copious cups of spiked eggnog, take a deep breath, and a note from Mary Poppins: make tidy up time fun.
Fun, and a source of personal interest and pride. One of the biggest sources of personal interest and pride? Their stuff. Their toys, books, and games.
The Game: The Household Holiday Toy Drive Time: 1 hour
If you’re like most parents, you’ve countlessly reminded your kids how lucky they are to have so many toys. They’re swimming in them: sometimes, literally. Their mass of toys is so deep and so wide you’d be better off backstroking across their bedroom floor than trying to walk it. (And when you do get a glimpse of their floor, that’s also often when you see you have to contact your local carpet cleaning service.)
The fun begins!
1. The holidays are the perfect time to purge and conquer the black sea of stuffies by encouraging kids to give some away. For some kids, this act of altruism will come easily. For others, it will be tough medicine to swallow, so you’re going to have to borrow another lesson from Miss. Poppins and sweeten it with that ‘spoonful’ of sugar.
Here are two tips to get your children excited about gifting some of their goods:
Explain (or re-explain) the surge of children and organisations that help children that are in need of good toys. This can be a difficult concept to grasp for many children who can’t imagine a life of need and poverty. To help them grasp the reality of poverty — in an age-appropriate manner — have them watch documentaries like The Kindness Diaries, Minimalism and Living on One Dollar. And watch it with them.
Not only does your physical presence while they watch the movie lend weight to its importance, but you will be there to answer any questions, and stop the movie if your child is becoming distressed. Again, these documentaries are good for kids, but all children have different tolerances to these very real stories.
Another powerful way to bring this lesson home? If you have an elderly relative who experienced poverty in their youth, have him/her speak with your kids. This will make the lesson incredibly real, and powerful.
Remind them that they will likely be getting more toys over the holidays. Ideally, you will use this tactic in tandem with the first. Children love getting gifts during this season, and there is no shame in that. However, using both strategies will remind them giving is just as important, and rewarding.
2. Once your bairn is on board, have them gift wrap a big box (or separate boxes for each child). Leave the top of the box open and unwrapped, so you can get toys in there. The exact size of the box will depend on how much you are hoping to purge, as well as how much you really think your kids will relinquish.
3. Have your kids fill the box(es). Again, you will likely have to stay there to supervise. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Hoarders, you know that it can be tough for people to let go of things, and while your wee ones are likely not hoarders, they do often share the common trait of needing their things to be in control of their lives. And it makes sense. Kids are in control of so very little, so it’s important not to push them during this process: give them choices, and remain engaged and enthusiastic about their progress.
4. Discuss a place to donate. Let this be a choice made by your child or children — just give them options. Good places to donate include:
Children's Homes (The Smith Family) Address: 9/117 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000
Resell charities (Goodwill, Sally Ann) Address: 44 Margaret St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Local shelters (Shelter NSW) Address: 377 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Local children’s services (Sydney Cove Children's Centres) Address: 18-32 Jamison St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Social Services (Glebe Youth Service) Address: 84 Glebe Point Rd, Sydney NSW 2037, Australia
A word to the wise: call the organization like The Smith Family before you drop off the goods to make sure they are currently accepting. They may also have restrictions on what they can accept.
5. Get the boxes OUT of the house. Ever throw a cupcake in the garbage just so you wouldn’t eat it, but then longingly wonder about going in after it a few minutes later? That’s what it is like with your kids and their toys. Don’t leave them around for your kids to see: get them out as soon as possible, either taking them to your charity of choice or putting them somewhere the kids won’t run across them (e.g. the trunk, the garage) until you can drop them off yourself.
This said, it is much more poignant for your kids to see their gifts dropped off to their new homes, however, since they will be able to visualize the difference they are making and even be thanked for it.
6. Praise! Now the job’s done, it’s time to praise the heck out of your kids. Tell them how proud you are of them, and what a difference they’ve made. And — just like you like to be rewarded for a job well done — reward them with a special movie night, or with their favorite treat, a family outing: just no more toys!