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The Simple Way to Keep Your Play Area Neat and Current!

The holidays are over, the dust has settled. The dishes are all cleaned and put away, the holiday dresses are packed up for a younger sister to wear in two years, your kids are back to school… In short, life, as you knew it pre-holiday, is back to normal. Except for one thing. The elephant in the room… which in some cases is, literally, that huge stuffed elephant your child got off his wish list!

Your home is now filled with even more toys, games, dolls, and trains than ever before and you are wondering how to store, manage, and contain all of these new gifts. A different blogger might use this segue to link you over to Pinterest or the Container Store to show you how you can build an entire wall of shelves/drawers/hooks in only an afternoon using nothing but leftover holiday ribbon and some Elmers glue… but I’ve got a different idea.

What if you extended the “Season of Giving” and worked with your kids (or just did it sneakily while they were at school) to really clean out the toy chest and playroom? I know that this is a daunting task but, it is no more daunting than trying to manage this year’s haul in addition to everything else the kids already had. Plus, keeping only the items that are age appropriate and focusing your children’s interest, will mean that they will enjoy their play space even more!

So, are you in? I’ve convinced you to do a massive clean out?? Awesome! Now, here is what you can do with all of those long forgotten treasures!

  1. Donate to Local Homeless Shelters for Families! Kids who visit shelters aren’t arriving with very much -- finding some really cool toys could make them feel more comfortable and at home in a new, and possibly frightening place. Finding a shelter is easy, just use this directory and then call ahead to make sure that they will accept toy donations.
  1. Donate to The Ronald McDonald House! The Ronald McDonald house offers lodging and facilities to families whose children are receiving care in a nearby hospital. They make it possible for families who may live father away to be near their little ones in a time of need. Since the Ronald McDonald house offers facilities for the entire family, siblings of a sick child are often visiting and would also benefit. Locate your local chapter here
  1. Freecycle! This is a super easy way to get rid of stuff in a fast and easy way! Simply post the items that you wish to part with on and wait for someone to recognize their need for it!

While most charities are thrilled to receive toy donations, please keep in mind that the toys should be clean and in working condition. Most facilities don't have the capacity to repair a broken toy or replace a missing piece, but if its in good shape, even a bit loved, it will be much appreciated!

The holiday season isn't the only time to be generous. Toy cleanouts post holidays and even birthdays benefit everyone. So, don’t be afraid to part with something that isn’t getting much use, and if you want to really benefit from the cleanout, don’t hesitate to get your little one involved in selecting items and then donating them together!

Samantha Shinewald, M.S.W. is a certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant at

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