R is for Re-Gift.


Pre kids:

1.  I had better hair.

2.  I would say things like, “I think I’ll hit the hay early tonight!” and the universe didn’t retort with an ominous cackle.

3.  My idea of home decor did not involve huge, red, flashing plastic monstrosities or pointy things to step upon and curse at.  (And yes I KNOW I ended a sentence with TWO prepositions.  Argh.  Do you prefer: “pointy thing on which to step or at which to curse”?  Puh-lease.)

Post Kids:  (or what I fondly refer to as After My Uterus Filed for Social Security):

1.  I talk to my hair now.  I lecture it.  We have a very tense relationship.

2.  I never speak of bedtime or getting sl–p or lack of sl–p.  I know that any sort of verbal mention of That Which We Do At Night But Shall Not Be Named* means the Death Eaters (toddlers) are coming.

3.  I still try with the home decor.  Sometimes I have luck to put some cute item up or about in my house.  But eventually… it gets covered with something large, red, or plastic or moved so that small pointy things can be strewn around it.

Pre Kids, I kinda had this in mind when I imagined my Play Room:

Look at us! We are well-behaved and our play set costs more than Momsie’s car! We play by sitting still a lot and smiling! No sudden moves! No loud noises!

So.  You can imagine my surprise because it didn’t really work out that way.  I was shocked.

I count myself very lucky because we actually DO have a playroom.  It’s a delightful space up on our top floor with lots of windows and sunlight.  It’s lovely.  That’s if you could actually stop your brain from hurting anytime you go in there because For PETE’S sake WHY must we dump stuff?  WHY?  Why does dumping it all OUT = play?  Do YOU SEE ME come home and take out my computer or my phone and dump them out all over the floor to play with THEM?  NO.  NO YOU DON’T!  CAN’T YOU JUST PLAY LIKE THE CHILDREN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE?

Toddlers can take a perfectly clean sunroom and turn it into this within 20 seconds.  TWENTY.

No, I do not have a before shot. I couldn’t get up the stairs fast enough.

So, about a month ago our family embarked on our yearly tradition:  The Toy Purge.  It’s generally done about a week before Christmas, when the littles are worked up in a Santa Lather about all da toys comin!  With Da wrappings!!  All under da tree!

I like to ride that wave of toy-frenzy and basically get rid of about 60% of their crap before the next onslaught begins.

Here’s how we do it:

The Great Toy Purge of 2013

1.  We talk it up.  A LOT.  Shameless propaganda.  Say things like, “Before Christmas we’re going to have our Give the Toys Away Party!  It’ll be great!  We’ll SHARE OUR TOYS WITH OTHERS!”  Sharing is caring, and all that.  They won’t buy it at all, but they’ll enjoy the theatrics.  Maybe.

2.  When the day comes,  grab three laundry baskets.  Label each:  KEEP, GIVE AWAY, BROKEN.  I had the boys make signs that they thought signified each thing. I did find it amusing that Blonde tried to get Red into the GIVE AWAY basket within about three minutes.  He has a wry sense of humor, that one.

3.  Pray.  I know, for reals.  We sat and prayed before we did this.  My sweet boys talked a bit about giving toys away that they no longer used or had outgrown.  It was adorbs.  Such sweet little hearts.  (And later when one of them is grabbing at some gnawed upon 6 month old RATTLE and shouting, “MINE MINE MINE MY PRESHUSSSSSSSS!”  you can gulp, dial-up that prayer again, and wonder What Would Jesus Do?  I am pretty sure thwacking ’em over the head with a bible is not the answer.)**

4.  Very important: set out a tray for all the toy bits that belong to other toy collections.  Therefore, you don’t get bogged down in finding where the stray phallic bit of white plastic thing -y that your 5-year-old fervently SWEARS belongs to something called “Da wocket set dat is from Grandpa and is da BEST. DIS is not trash!  It GOES to something ELSE.”  Heaven forbid you put that strange random and forlorn plastic bit in the trash because, “Do you not LOVE  the random plastic bits like I do?”

This weird collection of leftovers holds the key to a toddler’s sense of control. Do NOT throw them away. Do it later when the toddlers are not looking.  Suckers.

5.  Keep ’em focused.  Offer copious snacks and drinks to keep their energy up.  Push through.  Be ready for the inevitable sabotage of the THROW AWAY box – it will happen.  Once the toddlers start to lurch over to that container with its pathetic detritus (mostly from McDonald’s and therefore, China) with a sort of zombied focus of “Must have theses toyyyyys they are okaaaayyyyy we can fixxxx em….” you offer some juice and give them specific orders.

“You, Blonde!  Herd marbles!  Red!  You!  Go over there and look cute while you scarf some Cheerios out of the couch!  Then sort these dinosaurs!”  Keep the tasks specific and small, while you do about 98% of the work.  Which is, after all, how mothering pans out most of the time, anyhow.

6.  When done, get the kids out of the room.  This is very important.  They have probably unearthed some precious toy circa two years ago to mangle, so this is easy.  When they leave, you take a deep breath and:

Why. WHY?

        Redistribute the goods. You know what I mean.  It’s a cruel world, but if they want to keep that rolley popping vacumn thing your mom got them and you don’t, you seize the day and your sanity and get rid of it.  BEGONE EVIL POPPING THING.

          Get the GIVE AWAY and TRASH boxes OUT of the house.  That way, your sweet toddlers will not keep zombeing over to them and digging out the wired entrails of a broken batteried and very dead device that  is weally weally all dey ever wanted.  Who has the time for that insanity?

Sometimes toddlers remind me very much of the Log lady from Twin Peaks.


Once the purge is over, sit on the couch, eye your newly organized toy situation and pat yourself on the back.  It will be a mess in an hour.  You have an hour.  Pour a cup of coffee and RELISH it.

7.  NOW.  GIVE THOSE TOYS AWAY TO KIDS WHO WILL LOVE THEM AS MUCH AS WE DID.   Today, if at all possible.  I like to have a destination in mind BEFORE we even start the Purge.  It helps keep us focused on the WHY of this activity and also helps those boxes get to their destination pronto.  We do it together – the boys see the toys delivered and then we high five and walk away.  The real Re-gift is how proud the boys are when this is done;  it’s a big present for our hearts, I tell you.

Luke 3:11, my friends.  We don’t do it perfectly, and we forget many times, but this tradition is a good thing for us.


*This sounds rather saucy.  But that’s a post for another day.  See N is for Nookie.

**Don’t worry… nobody was really thwacked with a bible.  I promise.  It just was a nice visual for a moment.


  1. Yep. I always declutter the toy areas right before Christmas. They’re more willing when they know there’s more coming. I’ve used that to my advantage through the year as well. Bribery. Isn’t it wonderful? -Tabitha Fletcher

  2. Loved the “Log Lady” thanks for this post I just giggled and smiled the entire time, since both my girls are grown I flashed back to some fond memories.
    Stopping by from the De-cluttering party!

  3. Ah, yes, the Toy Purge. So glad I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m not sure who ended up more traumatized by Toy Purge Day, me or the kids. 😉 Stopped by from the De-cluttering party!

    • I absolutely LOVE your blog!! Thanks for the comment – I sure am tickled to hear from you. Your battle of the “slobbiness” is a great comfort and encouragement to me.

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