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Parents blog: The New Year’s challenge: toy management, thank-yous

Now that the holidays are behind us, our home is once again full of toys, and perennial pressure about thank-you notes.

First, the toys. In the past, we tried to encourage our children to get rid of some of their stuff by donating a toy or two before bringing something new into the house.

I also started a “toy library” by collecting all the clutter — the stuffed animals, superheroes, cars, Legos, — and asking the kids to return a toy to a section of the basement before “checking out” something different.

Both strategies worked for a while, but I wasn’t able to stay on top of the toy management. The toys in the giveaway box also disappeared and somehow assimilated back into the mess.

I’ve also tried to discourage relatives from giving my kids more stuff, but it’s not always easy.

What do you do at your house to reduce the clutter?

Now, to those thank-you notes. At my house, gift-opening can be chaotic. As much as I try to get my kids to pace themselves, they end up ripping through boxes and gift wrap so quickly that it’s sometimes hard for me to keep track of who gave what.

As a result, I haven’t been very good at having them write thank you cards. It’s a poor excuse, I know.

In years past, if I didn’t take notes or if the gift opening got a little too crazy, I still wrote thank you cards on behalf of my kids that were a little generic in nature. But now that they’re older, I feel as though they should be writing their own notes, even if it’s just a picture they’ve drawn.

In a recent column, Miss Manners chastised a mom who complained about having to slow things down by making her kids pause after each gift they opened. That way, they can tell her what they got and from whom so they can write very specific thank-you notes, as requested by their grandmother.

“It was torture,” the mom wrote.

Miss Manners told her the kids shouldn’t be tearing into the gifts and yes, they should be more conscious of the gift-giver by taking notes.

Do your children write thank-you notes?

Posted by Virginia de Leon

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