The Great Pre-Christmas Toy Purge

by Joelle Wisler
Originally Published: 
Iulian Valentin / Shutterstock

I am currently the proud owner of 20 beautifully decorated toilet paper tubes. They are all hand-drawn by my pack rat of a 5-year-old and must be cherished by me. Every night, before we go to bed, each one is found and accounted for (and I mean actual counting). I would never have believed that being a parent would mean babysitting glittery toilet paper tubes with pictures of babies on them, yet here I am.

Alongside the strangely loved toilet paper tubes, my daughter has turned our entire recycling bin into her masterpieces — using boxes, bubble wrap, jars, tubes, old newspapers. Recently, she even made a butterfly out of a broken wooden spoon and a split Whoopee cushion. Every creation is adored and cared for. Well, except for that one milk jug she filled with crayons that started to become a little too stinky after a couple of days.

We have a small house, so going into the holiday season filled with new toys and new clothes and new potential art projects means we need to make some space around here. And that requires getting rid of all the toys and creations that are no longer serving any purpose in our lives.

This isn’t an easy concept for some members of my family who should probably be involved in some kind of hoarders intervention. So, I thought to myself this week: Self, I’m going to get the kids involved in the toy purge this year. I’m not totally sure about which toys they have some sentimental attachment to, and just maybe they will learn something about giving. Yes, I’ll get the kids involved, and then I’ll write about how great the whole experience went.

My current self would kinda like to kick my past self in the shins. But moving along…this is how The Great Pre-Christmas Toy Purge went down in my house this year:

1. I prepared them. I told them, “Kids, we are definitely getting rid of some stuff. Look around, think about which toys you don’t play with anymore. Think about how happy some little girl would be to get that playhouse that you’ve never used even once. Or the train track! You guys haven’t played with trains in years. Someone will be so excited to have a nice train track, right? Hello?”

2. I set aside the perfect time. They had full bellies and a good night’s sleep. I had told them in advance that this was happening. They’d had time to accept the toy-removal reality, and it was time to purge.

3. We started with their overflowing toy bin. I began to pull everything out one by one. Broken-stringed yo-yo? Trash. Perfectly good but never used finger puppets? Donate. 10,000 Happy Meal toys? Trash. Too-small dress-up clothes, baby Lego sets, toddler puzzles, a bag of plastic snakes that nobody wanted — it all had to go.

4. At about this time, they remembered they loved everything. Oh yes, everything. They loved the smooshed-face doll, the terrifying remote control tarantula that experienced an ill-timed bath, the box of plastic birthday party favors. Loved, cherished, could NOT live without.

5. They stopped attempting to help in any way and just started playing with the toys.

6. I became firm. Nope. We’re doing this. This stuff is unloved! You want your toys to be loved, right? We’ve all freaking seen Toy Story! We all saw what happened to that scary unloved baby thing.

7. The crying started. Oh god, the toys were sad away from their owner, I know. (And why did I have to bring up stupid Toy Story?)

8. They allowed me to get rid of, like, one broken doll arm and a puzzle that had most of its pieces missing.

9. I waited until they were at school. I grabbed all of the stuff they hadn’t touched in over a year and stealthily put it in either a garbage bag or a box to drop off. Just like every other year. Because I can’t remember anything about myself or my family ever.

10. Success! We are purged, and they are completely oblivious to what they are missing. I’m writing this all down so I won’t forget about this day next year.

I really tried to get my kids involved with getting rid of some of their random toys. And you’d think after 10 years, I would have actually been able to predict how this whole scenario was going to go down. Nope. Don’t be me. And sorry, but I’ve got to get back to my toilet paper tube babies now. FML.

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