Here's what I did to keep my four children playing with new toys and games without buying new toys and games!
If you're like me, your kids are burning through every book, toy, puzzle and snack in the house during the Stay at Home Order. So what's a quarantined family to do? Sure, you we could order all the things on Amazon (or hopefully a local store!). But that gets expensive pretty quickly. And there's the problem of increasing the volume of deliveries, boxes, carbon footprint, and so on. So how about setting up a swap with another family or families to refresh your supplies?
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3 Easy Steps to Set-up a Quarantine Book and Toy Swap
- Reach out to another family from preschool, the neighborhood, or soccer team with children of similar ages. Ask about or offer particular items and see what stuff their kids gravitate towards. Harry Potter wizards? Adventure enthusiasts? Puzzle masters? Maybe they're missing the third book of the Percy Jackson series or have never tried playing chess. Big energy toys are great, too.
Pro tip: I contacted our school's parent list to see who might be a good fit for swapping our early elementary games and books.
- Assemble a box or bag of the books, toys, and other treats. I included a note and drawing from my kids in the hopes of starting a an old-school pen pal relationship. Maybe you've baked some cookies you'd like to include or some of your sourdough starter? How about a favorite novel for the adults in the house?
Pro tip: Be sure to LABEL EVERYTHING if you'd like to see it again then wipe it down with disinfecting wipes.
- Make a socially distant trade. One family leaves the box outside and the other makes the swap for no-contact delivery. Voila: new-to-you stuff! Wash your hands when you bring the box inside.
We try to keep these items in a separate basket so when it's time to return them we're not scrambling. I give myself extra credit points for writing a quick inventory and taping it to the inside of the box.
Favorite Books and Toys Right Now That are Great for Swapping
- Family Charades: We LOVE this game, but we've gone through all of the cards…several times. We need a break so we forget all the prompts.
- LEGO sets: We have a bunch of sets we've kept put-together for a while that are no longer as exciting. Since they're all put-together they're great for trading without losing pieces (though be prepared for losing pieces).
- Book Series: Harry Potter, Wizards of Once, I Survived, Peter and the Starcatchers. All terrific series. My older kids loved them, but younger kids won't want to read them for a few more years, so lending them out is ideal.
- Puzzles: From little kid floor puzzles to big kid small piece puzzles, all are in need of a refresher. Place them in ziplock bags inside the boxes to mitigate piece-loss.
- Little Kid Electronic Toys: I am OVER listening to quite a few of my one year old's electronic toys. Time for a different singing animal please.
- Snap Circuits: We have a few of these sets and have gone through all of the projects several times. Another one that'll be fun again when we get it back eventually.
Pro Tips: Mentally be prepared for not getting everything back in the same condition. And smaller toys may never be seen again.