We all have them, those tiny little toys that our kids get from those chocolate eggs (I think the company should consider giving me shares) the broken toy that is just filling the toy box, the farm animals that are spread out all over the house, the obscure decapitated doll that is still being cuddled, the half-chewed ducky lying in the yard(why do my dogs like the bath tub toys so much?). Why do we find it so difficult decluttering toys?My organizing strategy for the dreaded toy box has for a long time been something like “throw it in the toy box – and put a lid on that thing”. I realize that this was just an avoidance tactic on my part, but it is something I am working on. Even children can feel overwhelmed by too much stuff and according to research children are actually happier and more creative if they have less toys.
How many toys are enough and how do you decide what to throw out? What are some of the most important toys that a child should own?
Here are some tips to help you with decluttering toys the minimalist way:
- Do NOT just throw out their favorite toys without consulting them.
- Take stock of the toys they already have
- Throw out any broken or incomplete toys
- Place the toys in 10 “need-to-have” categories
- Decluttering the toys. Keep one or two from each category (or three or four, whatever floats your boat)
- Say goodbye to toys you are donating
- Organise the left over toys
- Enjoy your extra time and energy!
Don’t worry, you can do this. Try to find some time when the kids are not present for obvious reasons, especially if they are little.
1.Do NOT just throw out their favorite toys.
Unless you want lots of tears, tantrums, and utter disgust from your kids, then do NOT throw out their favorite toys, even if the toy is broken. Be sure to talk to them about it, let them keep it for another day or two, to allow them to part with it, and communicate your reasons about why it must go. If all else fails, leave the toy and try again in a week or two.
Perhaps your child is not a clinger, and you may be able to get away with just giving it away, but I tried this, and it did not go down too smoothly. Just saying.
2.Take stock of the toys they already have
This means take out every toy they own, I mean everything. Look under the bed, in drawers, under the couch, in the key bowl, in between the couch seats, in the car and place them all in one central place. Sometimes, we do not realize how many things we own if we store them in different places in the house. If you have older kids, show them the piles and piles they own because this will make it much easier for them to assist with decluttering their toys.
3.Throw out any broken or incomplete toys
Puzzle piece missing, throw out. Arm of the action figure broken, throw out. Doll’s leg ripped, throw out. Try to be ruthless here, but if there is really an item that can be fixed like sowing back the arm of a favorite doll, then by all means keep it. Put the item to be fixed in a different location and see if the toy will be missed at all.
4.10 categories that make decluttering toys a piece of cake
Now, the fun part! Place each toy in one of the following 10 “need-to-have” toys categories:
- Art materials
- Dress up and Imaginative Play
- Gross Motor
5. Declutter. Keep one or two from each category (or three or four, whatever floats your boat)
You do not need to have a toy from every category, so don’t go out and buy if your one category is empty. When it is time for Christmas, or birthday, you will have a better idea of what to get them. For books I make an exception of owning many more than just one or two.
When investigating each category, keep the following in mind:
- Quality of the toy: Wooden toys are normally more robust and last much longer as well as being environmentally safe.
- Is it open-ended or very specific? : Toys that only have one way of playing with them, limit imaginative play.
6.Say goodbye to toys you are donating
Put all the toys that you are donating in a box and ask you children if they want to say goodbye to the toys before putting them in your car. Make a nice little ceremony or speech when you do this to help a child that is struggling with closure or a bit too attached to a certain toy.
7. Organize the left-over toys
Part of the fun part for me after decluttering toys is organizing the items. There really are so many options available out there for toy storage, but I like the below two best:
These work really well as it allows for easy packing away and tidying. Children can see all their toys at a glance and pick a suitable one without being denied access a la Montessori style.
Baskets and bins
Who says decor and kids can’t work together? You can add labels on the baskets for easy cleanup or pictures for smaller children and for smaller items or sets of small dolls, put them in a smaller box or bag and put the entire box in the basket together with the other pieces. For budget friendly options visit your local storage shops, thrift stores or use baskets and boxes you have in your house.
8.Enjoy your extra time and energy.
Tidying up is a breeze when you only have a maximum number of toys lying around. Your children will actually play with the stuff they have and you will be able to sit and play with them.