Toy Blog - Toys, Parenting, and Kids

(Having A) Good Morning!

Some mornings are a breeze in getting my crew out the door and on our way to school and our other activities.  Other mornings, though, are a fight from the second their little eyes open until we all get to our destination.  What makes those great mornings so great?  Here are a few things I’ve observed that help us get off to a great start (even on a Monday!).

1.  Be ready yourself.  If I’m not ready by the time the kids get up, chances are they are going to drag around during our finite time at the house.  By having myself put together, dressed, and otherwise good to walk out the door, I’m not distracted with my own routine while trying to get them through theirs.  All of my attention can be focused on their needs.

2.  Start off the day with a big bite.  My kids are eaters, but my older son needs to eat the.minute.his.feet.hit.the.ground!  My younger son, though, would rather wait about 20 minutes to wake up before chewing on some toast and peanut butter.  No matter when they eat, though, breakfast is important enough to make time for it in the morning.  Running out the door with a pop tart in one hand and a juice box in another may be better than having nothing at all, but it isn’t better by much.  Try to make time to have a bowl of nutritious cereal, a protein-filled meal, or at least something filling with less sugar to start the day off right.

3.  Allow at least 10 minutes for those “other” things that crop up.  How many times have I heard, “I can’t find my shoes!” or “Have you seen my library book?” or even “Don’t leave – I have to go to the bathroom!”  I have long-since learned that cushioning our morning routine with a few extra minutes allows for those last-minute stressors that arise. 

4.  Do some prep work the night before. Have the backpack ready to go at by the door.  Lay out the clothes for in the morning to save time choosing something to wear.  And, make sure everyone is in bed on time.  Getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders the next day!

5.  Be a list-maker.  When my older son was in preschool and not able to read yet, we posted a list on the bathroom mirror – a list of pictures of his morning routine.  We drew four or five activities that he needed to do each morning and posted it where he would easily see it.  After practicing for about a week, he was highly proficient at following his list to get ready – everything from dressing to brushing teeth to making his bed.

6.  Take a deep breath.  Even the best-laid plans will fall by the wayside every now and then.  Don’t be so rigorous in your routine that you can’t allow for a day that simply doesn’t go as planned.  The important thing is to not let those little things that get in the way each morning become a part of the routine.  Make those little things the exception, not the rule.

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.

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