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The joys of the festive season - fun, food and of course discount sales and grand melas! Who can resist the tempation of a hefty discount or a dazzling display – least of all children when it comes to toys. Perhaps its time to sort out that toy room and make space for some new playthings. Here’re some tips on toy sorting.
1. If you’re a regular at wardrobe overhaul, you’ll be familiar with the first step: Start by making 3 piles – one to keep, one to throw and the third to donate.
2. Toys to throw are a no brainer – broken toys, electronic toys where batteries may have leaked, toys made from cheap toxic plastic, toys with loose, sharp or tiny parts, torn board games or ones missing essential counters/cards etc. You’ll be surprised how many of these are actually lying around in the toy cupboard, gathering dust and occupying precious space.
3. Toys to donate will include duplicates and those that your children have outgrown but are still in working condition. Remember, children outgrow toys as quickly as clothes and will bore easily with toys that no longer challenge their thinking. Discard toys and games that no longer seem age appropriate, making exceptions only for a toy your child may be sentimentally attached to!
4. Toys can be donated to your household help, to children’s homes or schools for the underprivileged. Several NGOs and schools also organize toy collection drives from time to time. One such organization is Goonj (www.goonj.org). They accept any kind of toys/games that are in working or usable condition - box games (only complete set), outdoor games-cricket, volleyball, badminton set etc. stuffed toys, decorative toys, toddler toys, interactive toys, battery operated toys (preferably with working battery).
5. Inspect toys carefully for broken parts or signs of wear before sending them for donation. Do clean them up before dropping the toys off.
6. Toys to keep also demand a lot of work -cleaning, replacing batteries, simple repair with glue or more complex rewiring. Soft toys gather the maximum amount of dust and mites and need to be thoroughly cleaned regularly. Check labels of soft toys to determine whether they can safely go into the washing machine, need just a surface wipe with a damp cloth or dry cleaning. Similarly, be careful when cleaning expensive electronic toys and stick to the maintenance instructions in the user manual.
7. Use large boxes to categorise toys and store accordingly. Ensure all playing components for a game are stored together.
8. And most importantly, involve your children at every stage of the toy sorting. This will not only inculcate a sense of responsibility for their possessions, but will also avoid a meltdown later if they find a broken- but-favourite toy missing.