Toy Blog - Toys, Parenting, and Kids

On Doing Your Part

As adults, it is our responsibility to teach young children what it means to be a good citizen.  It is our job to show them how to take care of others and the community - a skill that will last throughout their lifetime.  Here are some great ideas to try as a family:

  1. Having a party?  Ask the guests to bring donations to Blue Santa, the Food Bank, a children’s shelter or another non-profit group.  Our son is having a “pet party” next year to collect food and pet supplies for our local animal shelter. 
  2. “Adopt” a neighbor.  Have your child check on the neighbor from time to time, draw pictures and share little snippets of his or her day.  Older neighbors who aren’t feeling well, are unable to leave the house or live alone will appreciate something fresh and different in their daily routine from time to time.  If your child chooses to share cookies or something similar, though, check for dietary restrictions first.  Sometimes just playing a card game or helping retrieve the mail is a wonderful gift for an older person.
  3. Have a “Fashion Show”.  Have your child model all of their clothing, and together decide if it still fits or should be donated to a worthy organization.  Then have him/her choose the charity to donate and take him/her along to give away the clothes.
  4. Teach your child to share his or her talents.  If your child is taking music lessons, offer a “free concert” for some neighbors.  Or, if younger children are around, allow your child to read to one of them.  Likewise, read to older adults as well, especially those with poor eyesight or in a nursing home.  If your child has a special interest or hobby, have him or her share it with another child or a close adult.

The Great Toy Purge

The holidays have come and gone, and I’m staring at a playroom that has subsequently turned into toy-aftermath.  Legos are strung from closet to window, books are scattered amongst the stuffed animals, and there’s a part of a light saber staring at me from under the hide-a-bed we have in there.  I thought I had done a good job (pat on the back) of sifting through toys before the holidays to make room for new ones, but I could not predict the onslaught of plastic and battery-operated perephenalia that would engulf the southwest corner of our home.

I have an opportunity in a week or so where I will be childless for a few hours.  And, in that small block of time, I plan on overhauling that war zone in my home that has declared battle on my bare feet and my compulsive desire to clean.  I’m going to purge.

There are several ways to purge, and getting children involved can be helpful as well, depending on the end result.  Here are a few ideas to try (or at least help spur your own ideas):

  1. Think Taxes And Donate!  Gather up old or no-longer-used items and make a donation to your local children’s center, family shelter, church or Goodwill.  And guess what?  You can use the value of the toys as a tax deduction next year!  Save any receipts you receive, take pictures of the donated items, and keep a detailed list.  A little legwork will go far with the Internal Revenue Service.
  2. Get On Board The Toy-Go-Round!  Rotate your child’s toys.  Pack up about 1/2 to 2/3 of their toys, depending on the amount that is available.  Put them in totes or boxes in a closet or the attic.  Your child can better appreciate the toys that are available, and in a month or two, rotate the toys out with ones in storage – it will be like a birthday! 
  3. Divide And Conquer!  Do you have a babysitter?  Maybe a grandparent you see on a regular basis?  Pass along some of the goodies to another house.  The kids will have familiar toys available at the other place, you can pare down your own supply, and the other party doesn’t feel obligated to purchase things to keep your children occupied while at their house!
  4. Dare I Say – REGIFT?  Yes, I’ve been known to do it.  When we received over twenty gifts at one birthday with my older child, we opened a few to play with at the party, but most of the rest were quickly forgotten when the guests left and the wrapping paper was thrown away.  The key is to carefully regift:  don’t regift to friends if a friend gave the gift – chances are, they’ll know about it.  We have regifted to cousins or other out-of-town relatives; and gifts received from these have been regifted to friends.  There is no reason to have four Lightning McQueen cars…why not share the wealth?

Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, I’ll have a better handle on our playroom.  And maybe I’ll be able to walk across the floor barefooted again, without the fear of injury via Legos.

Ready, Set, GIVE!

There are certain qualities I want to see developed in my boys.  I want them to grow to be respectful of others.  I want them to practice tolerance and patience.  I want them to learn our beliefs as a family and in our church.  And, I want them to be givers.

There are so many opportunities today to develop young philanthropists.  Our church offers so many ways for children to be involved, but not everyone is as active in church as we are, nor does every church offer the opportunities ours does.  Sometimes, you have to seek out your own.

Teaching children to be “givers”, or philanthropists, is quite simple.  During the holidays, participate as a family in a local Blue Santa program or the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  Let your children see the value in creating a nice Christmas for someone they don’t even know.  If you pass by a Salvation Army kettle during the holidays, let your child put in a few coins.  Food donations are a great tool throughout the year.  When you are at the grocery store with your child, let them pick out several canned goods and deliver them together to the local food pantry.  Help them clean out their closet of clothes that don’t fit and toys they no longer play with, then let them make a donation to the local Goodwill or thrift store.  Explain to the children not only what you are doing but WHY.

A more simple and very local way to teach giving is to share with your neighbors.  Bake a batch of cookies and share with an elderly neighbor or a new family.  If you have a garden, share your crop with someone on your street.  Sharing your time is equally as important…help a neighbor with a chore outside, offer to gather their mail or newspaper if they are going out of town. 

Just remember the value in learning to give is to understand the “why”…that we are here to take care of each other and help each other, and we can do that in so many ways and on so many levels.  Let children participate with you in your own charitable giving, and they will learn a lesson that will last a lifetime.

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