Have you ever walked out of a room and walked in a minute later to find every toy in existence scattered across the living room floor? Have you wanted to take every toy ever made and put it out on the front lawn? Kids, toys, messes, they do come as a package. And they will most certainly exist no matter what you do.
What if I told you that you could get rid of enough toys and use a toy rotation schedule that could make clean-up time take only minutes?
What if I told you that you could hear less bickering over toys by having less toys available?
What if I told you that your child will play with a few toys longer then they ever played when they had toy chests full?
Decluttering or minimizing the toys you have in your home is how you can get to a house that is faster to straighten up. It’s also how your kids can start to stretch their imaginations. Toys can sometimes be like answers – kids don’t need all of them to have a good time.
Starting The Great Toy Clean Out
You first have to decide how much input you are going to allow your children to have on this one. I would take age and understanding into consideration before you ask your kids for their help.
I believe children are completely capable of telling you what they like and dislike and I believe they have a right to make their own choices about certain things. But if I gave this power to my three year old I guarantee she would find things that weren’t even toys that she also LOVED so much. At this moment she is gripping a hair tie and a piece of bubble wrap.
What I did – take it in steps.
Start with a quick decluttering dash. Be sure to check every room.
- get rid of the obvious – broken toys, missing parts, “happy meal” toys and party favors from past birthday parties.
- Books that are beyond repair or missing pages
- toys that do not work anymore
Next clean up the room, placing toys on shelves and in containers the kids can reach.
- what toys get pulled out
- what toys get played with – this is different then the toys that come out
- how long do certain toys actually get played with
- what toys never leave the shelf or containers
You’ll want to do this for a few days and see how consistent they are with which toys.
Fun Part Begins – box up the toys
Once you’ve recognized the toys that don’t ever get used, you can remove them right away. If they are in good shape please donate them.
Now the tricky part. You’ll want to leave the toys you know they play with, the ones that you feel are always getting picked up at the end of the day. But what do you do with the others?
There are a few factors to consider
- do you like them, the toys?
- are they well made, if natural is important to you – should plastic toys be removed?
- educational, open ended (wooden blocks, wooden train sets etc.) ?
- do you have a place to store them?
Once you’ve decided which toys made the cut from this pile you are then going to put them away. Like really away. Labeled with a date, sorted by type if you like, but they are going to go out of sight for a while.
You should now consider two options:
- hide them and if not asked for, then they go. (the way I went)
- toy rotation – once a week swap out the hidden toys for the play room toys. The “newness” of the toy swap can create a new excitement for the old toys.
If you choose #1 you are going to leave them hidden for at least 6 weeks. Six weeks might seem random but that was how long it took for the last toy from the hidden bunch to be requested. I retrieved four toys that would flash into my four year olds mind and one toy that my three year old was frantically looking for six weeks later.
For option #2 – organize toys by age, type, purpose and then pull them out once a week or when you find the other toys aren’t getting used as much. Pack away the other sets and toys and repeat a week later.
If you are feeling super ambitious, when the weather is warm, box up all the toys and get everyone outside. When you are home pull out the books, puzzles and board games.
I am excited to try a complete toy purge. But I think the kids are too young to understand that their favorite toys are no longer available. For now I’m on a mission to get rid of all tiny toys at my feet. Well until they discover legos.
So how did my kids react?
Did my children survive? Absolutely! Like I mentioned earlier there were a few toys that they asked for but after week six there were no more requests and those toys they didn’t miss, left our home.
The moment I knew I was on the right path was the afternoon they walked in from playing outside with their dad to a completely cleaned and minimalized bedroom and toy shelf.
They went straight for their favorites and spread out. Because I removed so many toys they had room to run, lay on the floor or build something new. They didn’t question anything in the room and they didn’t notice immediately that things were missing. Oh and they didn’t bicker about any toys.