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Coach Mom Newsletter - Jan 2010

Four Steps to Toy Joy

Do you ever suspect Buzz Lightyear and his comrades are plotting to overtake your home?  When was the last time you were booby-trapped by one of the army men — the kind that launches you three feet into the air with a scream when you step on it in the dark?  I’m not telling stories…toys can get to you if you let them outnumber you by too great a ratio.

How can you experience toy joy in your home?

1. Use shelves, not a toy box.

Large toy boxes often end up getting stuffed until they are filled to the brim, making an organization system impossible.  Shelves allow the children to see everything, and easily remove and replace toys one at a time.

2. Rotate toys.

Pack a large, clear plastic container(s) with toys and put it away for a few months.  You will find that your children enjoy their current toys more, as they have fewer options.  When you bring the bin down in a couple of months and unload it, you will think it is Christmas again.  Then pack up the toys that have been down and put those away, marking your calendar with the next date to rotate.

3. Keep only the best toys to pass down to younger siblings.

Taking pictures of the children with toys helps preserve fun memories when you can’t keep them all (and you can’t.)  Toys must be culled on a regular basis or the “stuff” can get overwhelming -- the more children in the family, the greater the challenge. When Christmas comes to the Stull family, if every child receives six toys (which is not uncommon, when you consider two sets of grandparents, friends, family, and Santa), then 30 new toys have just entered our house. The thing I must constantly tell myself is to hold on to “staple” toys only.

Examples of staple toys are nesting cups, building blocks, and Legos. All have great value and versatility.

Don’t know if you should keep a toy or not? Put it to the test. Keep only toys that meet at least three of the following criteria:

·        Is it fun for your child?

·        Does your child actually play with it?

·        Does it teach new skills or imaginative play?

·        Is it easy to store?

·        Has it stood the test of time?

…And if it doesn’t need batteries, that’s all the better.

Regularly eliminate all others. What to do with the extras?  Donate toys to a teacher's classroom reward box, or give them to a friend who has just had her first baby.  You might sell a few of the valuable items through EBay.

4. Carefully consider purchases at birthdays and Christmas.

Avoid large toys as much as you are able — they will cost you more space.  Battery-powered toys will also continue to cost you money.  Giving expendable items, such as food or entertainment gift cards, doesn’t add to a clutter problem.  You can also make up your own gift certificates, giving them a special day with Dad or Mom doing something they love.

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Help for the Cold of Winter

Cold blasts are hitting hard this winter. Check out these tips before your children go out to play in extremely cold weather.

  • Dress in layers. The most important layer? The one closest to the skin. The purpose of a good first layer is to wick moisture away from your skin - to get the moisture to the outside of the first layer of clothing.

    • Avoid cotton layers next to the skin (all underwear and socks). Cotton doesn't hold in heat very well even when dry, and has no wind resistance. It absorbs moisture, so once it's damp, it ruins the insulation the clothing provided. Once it is wet, it takes a long time to dry.

    • Choose a synthetic fabric such as polyester or soft wools instead.

  • Make sure hats, gloves and boots start warm (if drying them in the garage, make sure you bring them in well before time to go out again, or use a hair dryer to warm them.)

  • To keep hands toasty, wear a thin liner glove inside of mittens, and add a hand warmer packet.

  • Keep the head and neck warm. It has been said that 90% of body heat escapes from the head.

  • A cotton hoodie offers no defense against wind chill, but a windproof outer shell disarms it.

  • Eat! The body needs fuel because it is burning extra calories to stay warm.

  • Drink lots of water or juice. The body dehydrates by breathing in cold dry air and exhaling warm moist air if not given enough fluids. Avoid caffeine.

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Ask Coach Mom

Dear Brenna,

My children’s toys are overtaking every room of our home!  I haven’t spent a lot of money on toys because most of them have been passed to us from friends. But it seems I spend half of my day picking up toys. Please help.


Dear Jamie,

This is a common problem in America. We’re all, including our children, spoiled with so much stuff. But being spoiled can really stink, can’t it? The generosity of your friends is nice, but you must realize that though these items don’t cost you financially, they do cost you. They cost you space. They cost you time. They cost you mental energy. The bigger the item, the more valuable it will have to be in order for you to give up the space to keep it. Keep that in mind next time a friend calls with an offer.


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