We clean out a couple times a year, and in fact, I just finished my children's toys and clothes last week! One of my children is very willing to part with old/unused/junky toys; the other one can't seem to learn the real definition of "special", because everything to him is "special". I was amazed that he wasn't willing to part with a single stuffed animal, but he willingly decided he no longer needed his HUGE set of Lincoln Logs! LOL
While I used to get rid of things without their help, like you, I had to involve them because they are smart enough to figure out when something goes missing. Also, I wanted them to understand the importance of cleaning out the old, not necessarily to make room for the new, but simply because it makes it easier on them and on me to have less. Less to organize, less to store, less to clean up. That's the approach I used with my hesitant child this time. I explained that the more stuff he has, the more difficult it is for him to keep his room cleaned, keep those toys organized, and that he can't possibly play with all of it in a day or even a week. That helped some, when he saw that he could benefit from purging a few things.
Last year, our clean out was non-negotiable because a family was moving into our home to live temporarily with us, and we HAD to make room for them. Actually, that was probably our easiest clean out emotionally, because our coming guests gave the children something to look forward to.
I don't know how to handle well-meaning grandparents who always have stuff to drop off for the kids. We have one of those too...sigh. I often feel like the Big, Bad Wolf, especially when my kids give me those eyes, like I'm the meanest person in the world. But, we do have standards for what we allow in our home, and the kids understand those too. Our children know what twaddle is, so they don't make a big deal when we donate twaddly books or toys to Goodwill. One thing I do for birthdays and Christmas is to send a group e-mail to both sets of grandparents with a list of items that would make a good gift. In fact, for ds's birthday in February, I mentioned that ds wasn't even asking for toys for his bday (he really wasn't) and that Christmas had been just six weeks before. So, I typed out a list of good, living books as suggested gifts for him; and to my surprise, we received almost every book on that list and NOTHING else! They actually listened this year!
After last week's clean out, here's what we're down to (not that this is what you should have...just a reference point for where I'm coming from).
- one large tub of Legos, in one of those under-the-bed plastic tubs
- 2 sets Playmobile (stored in a basket under his bed)
- a set of Western cowboy toys (stored in a basket under his bed)
- Matchbox cars and small, misc. toys (stored in a third basket under his bed)
- a large semi-truck and large bulldozer, kept in the closet
- 10-12 stuffed animals, some kept on his bed, some kept in the closet on a shelf
- dress-up clothes, kept in a dresser drawer
- small plastic canister of dinosaurs, kept in his closet
- dress-up clothes, hung in a wardrobe
- a play cash register and felt food, kept in wardrobe drawer
- 20 peg people, kept in wardrobe drawer
- play coffee pot, toaster, and mixer, kept on a shelf in her wardrobe
- one set Playmobile, stored in a cute bucket under her bed
- one doll, doll bed, and baby blankets, kept under her bed
- play horses and misc. toys, kept in a matching bucket under the bed
- 10-12 stuffed animals, kept on a shelf in the closet and some on her bed
Typing that out was actually helpful for me because I see that it's not that much, and I'm very comfortable with where we're at. Two or three years ago, we probably had twice that amount of toys, and I was constantly organizing and reorganizing them!
I hope you reach your goals and without too many tears ,