You know how it goes…you get the whole house picked up so you can actually vacuum or sweep the floors, only to have the house destroyed 5 minutes later by your kids and their toys. It doesn’t take long for the toys to be everywhere, leaving you feeling defeated.
There’s only one way for this to stop: you have to declutter your kids’ toys.
What does it mean to declutter toys?
When I say you need to declutter toys, I mean that you need to figure out what isn’t adding enough value to your kids’ lives. It could be that they’ve outgrown them. It could be that they’ve lost interest in them. Or, it could be that they are no longer in good shape. This is the clutter that needs to go.
Not only that, but you also need to decide how much is enough. This is different for every family, depending on lifestyle, the number of kids you have, and even the personalities of your kids!
My son has never had a ton of interest in toys, and so he has much fewer toys than my girls. And, my older daughter probably has twice as many toys as my younger daughter! Every kid is different, so their level of attachment to things will be different as well.
How does decluttering toys help?
Let me tell you…A-MAZING things happen when you declutter toys with your kids. Decluttering has so many benefits!
Fewer toys mean your kids are less stressed and overwhelmed by the number of choices.
Only having valuable/strategic toys means your kids learn more from their play.
Fewer toys mean your kids are better able to keep their toys picked up and organized.
Only having the right kinds of toys means your kids entertain themselves better.
What kinds of toys should my kids have?
We should be strategic about what kinds of toys our kids have so that they can entertain themselves and learn from their play. When our kids only have toys that are age-appropriate and encourage their imagination, this is precisely the result.
When deciding what types of toys to include in your home, consider the following categories:
- open-ended toys that encourage imaginative play
- toys for learning
- toys for creating
And don’t forget that your kids need toys that are fun and bring them joy! Make sure to consider each kid’s interests when deciding which types of toys to have in your home.
Which toys can I get rid of now?
If you’re wondering where to start with decluttering toys, you can start with this list. Look for these items and feel good about removing them from your home right away.
- broken toys
- duplicate toys
- unsafe toys
- obnoxiously loud toys
- toys that aren’t age-appropriate
So how do I actually declutter toys?
Once you are ready to begin the process of decluttering toys, it’s up to you whether or not you want to get your kids involved. It may be harder to include them, but I encourage you to try so that you can use it as a teaching opportunity. That, and you don’t want your kids to come home to a surprise that leaves them sad, or even angry.
For ways to encourage kids to minimize their toys, check out my friend’s helpful post on her blog, Simple Lionheart Life.
However, if your kids are younger, it’s perfectly okay for you to make these decisions for them. Check out my tips for how to deal with decluttering when you have a family.
You declutter toys in the same way you declutter anything. You decide what’s adding value to your life, and your part with the rest. For toys, however, you may need to be even more intentional about what kinds of toys you keep.
Follow these steps to ensure that you are both removing the clutter AND keeping the right kinds of toys:
1. Get All of the Toys Out and In One Room
It’s hard to properly declutter toys unless you can see how much they really have. So, it’s worth it to take this extra step to consolidate everything into one big pile. It makes it easier for your kids to see and understand as well!
2. Set Favorites Aside
If you are involving your kids, start by letting them set aside their favorite toys before you begin. Your kids may have irrational fears that you are going to take away the things they love. It’s important that you start here so that your kids know their favorites will stay!
3. Throw Out Any Unsafe Or Broken Toys
Begin decluttering by throwing out anything that is unsafe, broken, or even missing critical pieces. These things oftentimes are in our homes without us even knowing it, because they are tucked away. And, your kids might not always tell you when something is broken.
4. Put Duplicates in a Donation Pile
Next, declutter the duplicates. Your kids don’t need two cash registers or two of the same coloring book. Any duplicates you find that are in decent shape can be added to a pile for donations.
5. Determine What Your Kids Have Outgrown
Look through what’s left in the pile of toys and decide if any of them is no longer age-appropriate. Anything they’ve outgrown can be donated, stored away for children on the way, or passed on to younger siblings.
If you are going to pass a toy down to a sibling, make sure that you consider whether or not it will actually get played with since they likely have different interests.
6. Categorize What’s Left
Here’s the important part of making sure that your kids still have the right kinds of toys after you declutter. Separate everything that is left after decluttering toys in the steps above. You can decide what categories to use based on your kids’ interests, but here are some categories to consider:
- toys for imaginative play (ie. kitchen sets, dress-up clothes, dolls)
- toys for learning (ie. games, puzzles)
- creativity toys (ie. art supplies, building blocks)
- active toys (bikes, riding toys, balls, climbing toys)
- outside toys
- stuffed animals
Start with these categories, then narrow them down even further if that’s helpful. If you’re limited on space, you may want to categorize by size as well. That way, you can limit your children to one or two large toys each.
7. Choose Strategic Toys to Keep
Finally, choose a certain number of toys from each category. That number is up to you, and again, it really depends on your lifestyle, the size of your home and family, as well as your kids’ interests.
For instance, if your child LOVES building, you may keep more than one type of building toy for him or her to enjoy. Or, if your child loves baby dolls, you may keep several instead of limiting him or her to one. Use your discretion! Your kids will appreciate that you are taking their uniqueness into account!
Do your best to keep toys that work well together, can serve multiple purposes, or encourage learning and growth in your kids’ areas of interest. This is how you will get the most “bang for your buck”. When you have fewer toys, you need them to go further and bring real value to your kids’ lives.
So, be intentional with your choices.
How do I keep their toys to a minimum going forward?
Well, you and I both know there’s a reason that the number of toys got out of control in the first place. Know these reasons, and create a plan to combat them. After you declutter toys, decide how you will keep them that way.
Are your kids always bringing home junky toys? Start saying ‘no’ to junk toys such as party favors and McDonald’s toys OR limit them to one small storage box.
Did you find a bunch of broken toys? Purchase higher-quality toys that last whenever you can.
Do your kids constantly beg you for toys? Start to coach your kids on the importance of experiences over things. (Be patient and do fun things with them!)
Did you find tons of similar toys? Start using the one-in-one-out rule for gifts or any toys that enter your home.
Are you buying toys for your kids year-round? Limit toy-buying to your kids’ birthdays and holidays.
Are their toys all over the house? Establish designated play areas in their rooms, a playroom, or a certain part of the living room.
Do your kids never pick up their toys when they are done with them? Train your kids to pick up after themselves! Make this part of their routine before meals and before bed. Or, you could even teach them to pick up one toy before moving on to the next.
If you want to stop your home from always being overrun by toys, you need to start by decluttering. Declutter toys so that only what is loved and valuable is left.
When your kids have fewer and only strategic toys, they learn more from their play, entertain themselves better, and are better able to keep their toys organized! And who doesn’t want that for their children? 😉
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.