Organization Tips: Decluttering Children’s Toys
Shhh….I’m on my 2nd night of pitching toys. My kids may read this in a few years and totally freak out or hopefully laugh. Our house is being taken over by toys and a lot of it is my fault. I remember having a baby and wondering how I would ever accumulate enough toys for my daughter. The two or three I had at the moment just weren’t enough. And now here we are in toy clutter hell!
So, why is it my fault? It started with my daughter’s first Easter. I refused to fill all those eggs with candy, so instead I filled them with super balls, poppers, parachute guys, gummy bracelets, etc. I also didn’t use a recurring traditional Easter basket, instead I used pails and containers that I considered “reusable.” The practice continued with Christmas stockings (more toys, less candy) and birthday party favors. In my attempt to avoid sugary treats, I created the potential for clutter disaster. Now I’m paying for it.
As I hunkered down in the playroom, I kept a few things in mind:
Keep only enough so each child has one. I have two kids so I only need two yoyo’s, two super balls, two jump ropes, etc. I actually probably don’t need any, but since I have about a dozen of each of these items, it makes it easy to pitch or donate all but two. Of course no matter how many super balls I’ve thrown out in the last two months, I keep finding more!
Let your child choose. Last night, I showed my daughter four magnet doll toys. While she insisted she still plays with all of them, I said “Why don’t you pick your two favorite ones and we can give away the others to kids who don’t have toys. The best part is, it will make room for more toys.” I didn’t mention that I have no plans to buy any new toys until six months from now (birthday and Christmas season).
You don’t have to tell them everything. If you ask your child about every toy, you’ll never get anywhere. So, after you tuck them in or they head off to school, go to the room with the most toys. Go with a trash can and a bag. The bag is to put toys in to donate and the trash, well, you know what that’s for. Just be sure to EMPTY the trash before your kids wake up (or at least cover up the toys with other trash). I’ve made that mistake before.
Put toys in their place. It always amazes me how many game pieces or Legos end up in a junk box. Put those toys back where they belong. That will help eliminate the clutter so you can make some solid decisions about what to keep, pitch, or give.
Pull toys that are no longer age-appropriate. Truth be told, I still have a lot of infant toys in my house. I’m 99.9% sure we’re done having kids but I hold onto them just in case. BUT, despite this, I frequently pull the age-appropriate toys and put them away in the attic. At least they are out of sight for my kids and when I’m ready, I can donate or sell them.
Stick to a strict one junk bin policy. I have one relatively small-sized container for “junk” (cars, yo yo’s, small balls, random toys or dolls, etc.) If I can’t close the lid it means something has to go – usually lots of little things have to go.
No child needs 50 stuffed animals, but some children do need one. Many charities won’t take stuffed animals, but some will. In Massachusetts there is a charity called Project Smile that takes donations of stuffed animals, coloring books/crayons, small toys and children’s reading books and gives them to local police and fire departments. These first responders are then able to pass the items along to children they may serve in a traumatic situation. Find an organization in your community that will do something similar. It will make it MUCH easier to pass along the numerous stuffed animals that have accumulated.
I’m sure there are lots of other tips around decluttering toys. If there’s something you do, please share. I’d love to hear more ideas!