The Happy Cat Kids Blog

It is at this time of year that the kids start to write their Christmas lists and the relatives start to ask you what the kids might want as a present, you take a look in the playroom or the kids' bedrooms and it can feel a bit overwhelming! Do the kids have too many toys already? What things do they still play with? What could they do with???? Here is where a little pre-Christmas toy cull can be an absolute game-changer!

Does your toy box look a bit like this?!?

1. Little by little Vs. the complete Marie Kondo!

So in my mind there are two main ways to do a good toy sort-out: You could Marie Kondo the s*** out of it by setting aside a day (or two!) and basically collecting up every single toy in the house and making a massive pile in one room of them all!! (If you've got more than one child, you'd probably need to do separate piles for each child's toys!) Once you have your huge pile, firstly pour yourself a large glass of wine, then set about picking up each toy in turn and assessing it! The other style, little by little, is my personal favourite because it's less overwhelming and you can spread the job out over a longer period of time, just doing little sort outs as when you have a spare 10-20 mins! With that method, I like to pick one drawer or storage box at a time, tip out the contents and sort through them. This way you can just do one drawer/box/shelf at a time as and when you can rather than having a huge pile of toys all over the middle of your living room!!

2. Decide on your sorting piles

I like to use large boxes or the big Ikea bags for this! You then need to decide how you are going to sort the toys, this is the system I like to use:

  • A Toys I know we want to keep

  • B Toys I know we have finished with

  • C Toys I'm not sure get played with much anymore/child might have grown out of

  • D Toys we want to keep but need fixing/cleaning/new batteries, etc. before they can be played with again

I'll then sort through each of those categories a little further:

  • A These toys can go back in the drawer/box/shelf or find a new home for

  • B With these toys I would then separate into toys that can be donated to charity, toys that we'll want to sell, toys that I want to put away and keep for sentimental reasons, toys that have sadly come to the end of their life and need to be recycled if possible or thrown away

  • C I'll come back to these toys in a moment in point 3!

  • D Get these toys sorted and back into operation as soon as possible otherwise they'll just continue to lurk at the bottom of the toy box and not get played with!

3. Create a halfway house/toy purgatory!!

Remember those toys in category C that you really don't think your child plays with anymore but you just can't be 100% sure right now!! What I do with these is put them all in a box and put them somewhere out of sight like the garage or loft. I then set a timescale for these toys - maybe 6 months, or a year if you're feeling generous!! If your child has not asked about any of those toys in that box during that time then you can be confident at the end of their time in toy purgatory that they can be safely added to category B and passed onto the next stage of their journey!

4. Look at possible gaps for the kids' Christmas lists!

Now you've cleared out all the things your child no longer plays with you're in the perfect position to see where some gaps may be of things they can now add to their Christmas lists! Maybe they need some more imaginative play toys?

Or it's time for a lovely new companion??

Or perhaps some new craft kits?

5. Assess your storage situation

So now you've had a good old sort out of all the toys, cleared out the ones you no longer need and had a think about what new ones may be coming in, you can take a look at your storage and see if it's working out for you. Are you someone who likes all the toys tidied away out of sight or do you prefer to have shelves with the toys on display and easily picked up. Personally I choose a mixture of both. We have the good old favourite Ikea Trofast units but I found that often toys were never making it out of the drawers so I created labels for the fronts with words and pictures of what was inside so the kids could see easily what was there to be played with. We also have some of the larger toys and Lego creations on display on top of the units.

Top tip: Don't buy new storage until after you've had the sort-out. Often you think you need more storage but once you've had a good clear out you actually don't need as much storage as you think you do!

If you're looking for a beautiful toy box that your little one can fill with some of their favourites and move from room to room themselves then I can highly recommend this gorgeous pull-along bear cart!

I also love to display the kids books so they can easily see them and choose their own! This lovely forest bookcase is perfect for doing just that!

I hope that's inspired you to have a toy sort out of your own! Once you've done your sorting and you want to have a browse through a fab selection of toys to add to your child's Christmas list then look no further than Happy Cat Kids - we've got you covered!

The following products are featured in this blog post:

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It's no secret that I love wooden toys here at Happy Cat Kids and they certainly look beautiful, last well and are much friendlier to our planet, but I know if you've got a young child that there is a certain appeal to the easily-wipe-downable plastic toys!! However, I'm here to share with you a few tips on how to clean your wooden toys (and it's much simpler than you'd think!) Also far less toxic for your little ones!!

Fascinatingly, wooden toys have natural antimicrobial properties so harmful bacteria and viruses don't settle on the wood in the same way they would do on other surfaces such as plastic! You could almost say they are 'self-cleaning'! For this reason, unless the toys actually get something spilt on them or your child is sick on it(!), you really don't need to clean them very often at all! Just a quick dust down is often all that is needed. For items like wooden teething toys or if your child is constantly putting the toys in their mouth, you'll probably want to clean those ones more often!

When you do wish to give your toys a clean, keep it natural! You do not need specific cleaning products with harsh chemicals!

A simple washing-up liquid or distilled vinegar and some warm water is all you'll need!

Large wooden pastel rainbow

The most important thing to remember is not to leave toys soaking too long in water. Due to the porous nature of wood, they will soak up some of the water which over time could lead to warping or even rotting of the wood!

The best way to clean is to make up a spray bottle with 1 part distilled vinegar or washing-up liquid to 4 parts water. Give the toys a good spray, wipe them down with a clean cloth and leave to air dry. If you've got a large number of items like a big tub of wooden blocks then spraying each block individually is not overly practical!! In that instance, you can make up a bowl of warm water mixed the same ratio as the spray bottle (1:4), drop the blocks in to the bowl, give them a quick swirl around in the mixture, then rinse them off, wipe any that need extra attention with your cloth and then take them out and leave them to dry! Remember, don't leave them soaking in the water!

What if your toy is particularly dirty?

Let's say your child has been sick on a toy or there is unidentified half-eaten food encrusted on!! Start with the above cleaning regime but if they still need an extra bit of work then make up a paste with bicarbonate of soda and water and give them a good scrub with an old toothbrush/nailbrush or just a damp cloth. Then rinse them down and leave them to dry as normal.

Wooden breakfast tray toy

If you want to dry your toys quicker (and even benefit from another natural germ-buster) then once you've cleaned them, pop them in the sun to dry! They'll be back on the nursery shelf in no time and the sun has natural anti-bacterial properties too! Win-win!!

So there you have it - simple to clean, you don't need to do it often and you don't need any harsh, toxic chemicals! Now I love wooden toys even more!

Check out our full selection of wooden toys and games here.

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Apologies for those of whose kids have still got another week of term but mine finish school tomorrow so I thought it was probably time to start thinking about what on earth I'm going to do with them for the next 7 weeks!!! I'm aware that I probably should have put some thought into this a little bit before now but hey-ho better late than never I guess!!

So, if, like me you haven't really thought much about what you're going to do with the kids this summer, here's a few ideas:

1. Picnics

I don't know about you guys but my kids love a picnic! I find it's one of the easiest activities to do in the summer hols! Just chuck some food in a cool bag, grab a picnic blanket, a football and a frisbee and find a nice park that has a kids play area to keep them occupied! One of my top tips with a picnic is to arrange to meet friends there too! The kids can then all play together and if you're lucky, you might even get 5 minutes to sit and have an actual conversation with another adult!!

2. Garden obstacle course

This activity is a bit of a favourite one in our house! All I do is lay out a few items around the garden and then set a course, e.g. crawl through the play tunnel, run zig zag through some cones, do 10 skips with a skipping rope, throw a ball into a hoop, kick a ball into the football goal, do 10 star jumps, 5 press-ups, etc. then time the kids around the course and see if they can beat their time each time they do it!

3. Arts & Crafts!

Love it or hate it, craft activities can be useful for keeping the kids occupied on a rainy day or just if you want to actually keep them sitting in one place for a short amount of time! Here's a round-up of some of my favourite sets that we have on offer at Happy Cat Kids:

I love all the RecycleMe craft sets - you get everything you need for all sorts of creations within the box, all you need to add are items of household recycling!

We have various styles of the casting kits! Everything is included within the kit. Choose from horses, dinosaurs, cars, fossils...

And if you don't fancy a whole craft activity, why not simply give your child a sketch pad and some pens and let their creative juices flow!! These party animal design sketch books have lovely hard back covers for easy drawing when out and about or in the car!

4. Water Play

Let's face it, kids just love getting wet! So many options to choose from taking them swimming to simply sticking the hose pipe on in the garden! One of my son's favourite activities when he was younger was taking his outdoor vehicles to the 'car wash'!! This involved a bowl of soapy water, a cloth and a hose pipe - and the bonus was that the toys actually got clean at the same time: win-win!! Running through the sprinkler is also a popular activity along with water-painting the fence! When my kids were younger they could while away loads of time with a pot of water and a paintbrush 'decorating' the fence!

5. Camping in the garden!

OK I know this one is not for everyone and after doing this for nearly a week in half-term, I'm pretty sure I said I would never do that again!! But the kids do absolutely love it! Stick the tent up in the garden, play some games, stay up late and toast some marshmallows on your BBQ!! If you're lucky enough to have older kids, you can let them do this by themselves! Just stick up the tent and let them get on with it whilst you get to sleep in the comfort of your own bed in the house!!

So I hope that's given you a few ideas, I'd love to hear yours. What are your kids fave summer summer activities?

If you're still looking for further inspiration for great toys that will keep the kids occupied this summer, here's a pic of some of my favourites:

Enjoy your summer!!

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