The holidays are over, but who says all of the excitement has to be over in a flash? While the presents may get torn open in less than 30 minutes (at 6:00 a.m., if your kids are anything like the little ones I know) and Santa has come and gone, here are some tips to make the toys under the tree feel like new for months to come.
- Clean out the toy box: Out with the old, in with the new. While this doesn’t mean kids need to get rid of all of their old toys, take some time to help them go through their toy boxes and find some gently used toys they won’t miss to donate. For every new toy they got from Santa, ask them to find one to donate. This will help reduce clutter, while also teaching your kids about the importance of giving back. Once your kids have chosen their toys to donate, compile a list of four or five different charities in need of toys, and let your kids help choose which one they connect with. This will leave a more lasting impression in their minds, changing “donating” from an abstract idea into a concrete activity they are directly involved in. Plus, it’s a good way to spend some time together.
- One at a time: Kids always want to rip every single box open as soon as possible – but hold off on this. Of course, let them unwrap all of their gifts on Christmas morning, but keep them stored under the tree until you take it down, and only allow them to play with one new toy per day. This will make the Christmas fun last longer, and it will ensure they don’t get burned out on any one toy too quickly. It will also help them give the toys they still have some attention, instead of focusing too heavily on what’s new.
- Hide half: Between Santa, parents, grandparents, Aunt Marge, and Uncle Joe, there is such a thing as too many presents. It’s great that everyone loves to give, but snag some of the toys that kids don’t immediately gravitate toward and store them in a closet for safe keeping. In a few weeks when your kids are bored (and behaving!) take out a new toy they didn’t even know they had.
- Play together: Learning how to use a new toy – especially at the pre-reading age – can be frustrating and difficult for kids, and can sometimes make them think they don’t like something that they would love if they just knew how to use it. Make it a point to set some time aside to help your kids figure out the ins and outs of their new playthings. They’ll feel more confident learning how to use these new items with you by their side, and it’s another great bonding experience. Plus, you know how your kids learn better than anyone, so try explaining or showing them all of the special features in a way they will comprehend.