We get a lot of questions on Instagram. And if those questions represent the things people struggle with, it’s safe to say that hand me downs are an issue.
It’s not surprising since it’s something that’s uncertain (will you have more kids? how many? how many years from now? what gender will my new child be?) and the intent is to save money and the environment.
So you want to save all the toys that your future child will need so you don’t have to rebuy everything. Unfortunately, unless you are incredibly careful and meticulous, you’re likely to end up with a whole ton of stuff that, ultimately, you may never use.
In the meantime, likely years, you’ve been storing bins and bins of toys either in storage, or worse, in your living space.
So what’s a conscientious parent to do? We have some tips to help you sort out all the stuff!
Toys, Toys And More Toys
Yeah. So toys can be a lot. Cars, Lego, dolls, puzzles, stuffed animals – as you know, the list goes on and on. And on.
It can feel like no matter how hard you try, the toys just keep piling up. Holidays, birthdays, the little plastic dollar item in the check out aisle; it seems there’s a never-ending stream coming through the front door and into your living room.
And once these items have found a place in your home, it’s hard to get rid of them. Maybe you have a younger child who may like that toy one day. Doesn’t it make sense to keep it for them? And if you hold on to it, then you won’t have to buy it again while keeping it out of the landfill at the same time! That definitely seems like the best answer, right? Hmmm…
The problem is that you can’t realistically hang on to everything. Very few people have the room to save everything and even if you do, your systems have to be so extensive and foolproof that you can locate the type of toy, the age appropriateness of the toy and the location of the bin or box easily.
Honestly, we have yet to run into that parent, though to be fair, people hire us to help them with organizing so maybe we don’t have the best control samples😂
But since you’re reading this blog, it’s unlikely that you’re the unicorn of hand me down organizing! So ultimately, not only do you end up buying the toy again, you now have a box of stuff taking up space in your home.
So What’s The Solution?
To get control of the situation, there are a few things you can do.
1.) Stop the influx of new toys
We understand, this can be really hard to do. But the fact of the matter is that kids don’t need nearly as much as you think they do. And a key question you should ask yourself before you buy the next best thing is – are you buying the toy because your child really needs more or are you buying it because it will make you feel good in the moment when you give it to them? We all love to make our kids happy, but would they be just as happy if you took time out of your busy day and grabbed a toy they already own and played with them for a half hour?
How does this help with hand me downs? Because the less you have the less you’ll be tempted to hold on to and the less you’ll have to make decisions about and the less you’ll have to store for the future.
2.) Buy the best you can afford
Our philosophy of Owning Well will help with hand me downs! If you purchase quality toys, holding on to them for another child makes sense. While you may hesitate to put a hunk of plastic into a box for the future (and you should think long and hard about that) properly storing a wooden puzzle may be an easier decision.
Additionally, if you only buy high quality items, impulse shopping will become a thing of the past. You’ll choose toys intentionally and the amount of junk coming through your front door will decrease substantially.
The expression Less But Better certainly applies here. You may have less to hand down to your next child, but the quality of the toys will be better and, remember your kids don’t need as much as you think they do. (We know we already said that but it bears repeating!)
3.) Edit Frequently and Store Properly
We know from personal experience that no matter how hard you try, you’re going to end up with a whole lot of toys you and your kids no longer want. The toy car they loved yesterday will be a thing of the past tomorrow. And while it may pull at your heartstrings to let it go, your child won’t give it a second thought.
Go through their toys at least one a month. It doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. You may only end up getting rid of a couple of things. But if you’re consistent not only will your home be more orderly, you’ll be able to donate toys while they’re still in good condition.
The other benefit to editing toys often is that you’ll know which ones you want to keep. The quality toys your older child loved but has outgrown have a good chance of being loved by your younger one as well.
For the ones you want to keep, store them properly. Make sure they’re clean and placed in the correct type of bin for your storage area. If you have a basement or attic that is prone to moisture or bugs, choose plastic bins with tight fitting lids.
To sum it all up
Buy less, buy quality, and edit frequently so that the hand me downs you do keep will be loved by the next kids in line!