The Toy Tool Kit
Create a “toy tool kit” to help manage children’s toys
“Mooooom! I need new batteries!”
That’s what I hear from my son every 5 seconds. Okay, maybe not every 5 seconds, but at least every few days.
This toy needs batteries, that toy needs batteries.
“Mooooom! It’s broken!”
This toy is broken. That toy is broken.
This got annoying pretty darn fast. I felt like I was replacing batteries in my son’s toys and gadgets all the time. Or some toy needed toy surgery for whatever reason (my favorite being “I dropped it in the toilet”). I was like a doctor on call, being called on to perform some miracle surgery on a toy or gadget. Under the pressure of the laundry room lights, I’d lay the toy down on my little table and go to work. No anesthesia, no nurses, no backup. Just a Mom and her son’s toy. One night, I swear I had five toys lined up in my busy ER. Not all would make it. I was never able to rescue the motorized clown fish “Little Fishy” toy, that my husband had unscrewed the wrong way and dropped the battery compartment into the bathtub. The fish was a goner. To this day, as my son is playing with his replacement “Little Fishy” (the shark this time), he will say “Daddy broke my fish.” As long as my husband remembers his role in this toy’s death, that’s what is important.
Okay, so I have a toy in need of some TLC. With my son in tow, I’d head down to the basement into the toolbox to grab some tools. Then I’d head back up 2 flights to grab some batteries out of the laundry room. On to the office to grab the duct tape. I would walk all over the house getting what I needed for my rescue missions. Even moving my son’s playroom to the basement level didn’t solve this problem. Sure, I was getting a Stair Master workout, but there had to be a better way.
Being the organized, neat-freak that I am, I brainstormed a few ideas.
I finally settled on the “Toy Tool Kit” and it’s been a huge help.
Basically, get a bin or container that is about medium size. I like clear/see through containers with lids, so that I can always see what’s inside. I also like plastic bins since they can be wiped & cleaned. Fill the bin with everything you need in the operating room to rescue your children’s toys. I keep my Toy Tool Kit in the playroom, where most of the toys are. If you have toys upstairs & downstairs, set up two bins. One for each level.
I like to include:
–Batteries of all kinds. For my son’s toys & gadgets, it seems like the AA batteries are needed the most. We have some AAA and C toys. We have a few 9-volts. And, a variety of those pesky button cell batteries (the “little flat circle ones”). Keep a variety of new batteries in your Toy Tool Kit. There’s nothing worse than a baby crying or a toddler whining when a toy “dies.” You want a quick fix, and don’t want to have to go around the house searching for batteries.
Some toys are heavy-hitters when it comes to battery replacements. In our house, the motorized Thomas trains need new batteries almost once a month. If a toy has an off button, turn the toy off if you remember. It’s a good lesson to teach kids to turn their toys off. Even if not being played with, toys that are left on will drain the battery. Some toys will even break or be ruined if you leave them on draining the batteries.
It is ridiculous the number of batteries we go through for toys and gadgets alone. Don’t throw away your used batteries, it’s harmful to the environment. We keep a bin of used batteries in the house. Once a year, we drop them off at a local electronics recycling. Another good lesson for kids. My son loves putting the old batteries in the bin and gets excited to go to the electronics recycling.
–A regular sized flat-head and Phillips screwdriver. A lot of toys require opening the battery compartment with a screwdriver. A screwdriver is also an all-purpose tool for other toy emergencies. Like rescuing a marble stuck in the green hippo in the Hungry Hippos game.
–A mini/small set of screwdrivers. I have both a mini flat-head set & a mini Phillips set. Many toys have ridiculously small, miniscule screws on their battery compartments. Also comes in handy for scraping Play Doh out of the crevices of the Play Doh Fun Factory.
–Duct tape. An all-purpose savior. Duct tape has come a long way over the years. It comes in virtually every color, and also comes in some pretty cool patterns. My son’s favorite is the Batman duct tape. In our house, I use duct tape to attach soft foam to toys that need bumpers. My baseboards were taking a beating from remote-control cars and other toys that my son likes to “crash.” When my son was learning to walk, he was constantly crashing his push walker into the walls. I duct taped a huge bumper, and voila, problem solved. An idea was born.
–Foam. You can get foam in the baby safety section of a baby store or online. I use the foam that you can buy in strips to put on coffee tables, etc. You can cut the foam to whatever size you need.
Tip: If you feel like you’re replacing batteries in a toy or gadget all the time, test your theory. Grab a Sharpie or marker. When you change the batteries, write the date you changed the battery on the actual battery. That way, when you pull the battery out to replace it, you’ll know exactly how long it lasted.
The Toy Tool Kit is a great addition to a household. You will be a regular toy surgeon in no time.