The first thing that has to get tossed when you’re thinking about decluttering toys is the GUILT! I know it’s hard to get rid of toys that…
- cost an arm and a leg (hello giant wooden doll house that Santa brought last year, but that has been played with approximately twice)
- are handmade (we had a wooden doll cradle, which has been played with even less than the aforementioned giant doll house)
- are educational (“But if they ever do play with it, it will make them smarter – it’s guaranteed!!”)
- are gifts (“Grandma payed good money for that fisher price garage, she’d be upset if we got rid of it…”)
…but they are taking up space and cluttering up your house, and if the kids don’t play with them- they can go!
After much research and a month of stealth decluttering (my kids still haven’t noticed – there will be hell to pay when they learn to read and find this blog), here are my tips for getting rid of the toys:
- My kids are 3-1/2 and 6. At first I tried asking them which toys they wanted to donate to children who aren’t as lucky as they are. They each happily donated toys that belonged to their brother or sister and then both had meltdowns. I don’t recommend this approach, at least if your kids are like mine. 🙂 So make plans to cull the toys when they’re out of the house or safely asleep.
- For simplicity, I’m using the word toss to mean donate or trash. The first thing you want to do is set up an area where you will hide the toys that will be donated. Put aside a few opaque bins or bags in a little-used area of the basement where you can store them until you can donate them. Better yet, make plans to drop them off at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or at Value Village the same day you go through them, if possible. That gives you less time to change your mind. 🙂 Make sure you have a good supply of large garbage bags for the toys that will be trashed.
Start off easy:
- I recommend that you blitz through the toys on your first try. If you’re undecided about tossing a particular toy, put it back for now.
- Some toys are easy to toss; if you start with those you can generate some good momentum. For example, B.G. had approximately fifteen small plastic brushes (the kind that come with My Little Ponies and Barbies.) Fourteen got tossed, one got saved. If you have duplicates, be ruthless and keep only one.
- Toss any toys and books that are no longer age appropriate; toys that are damaged or broken; colouring books that have almost no blank pages left; markers without caps, crayon stubs, and any books that smell funny.
Then it gets harder. But don’t give up!
- Go through the toys again. You may be surprised to find that you’re now ready to toss some of the toys you were unsure about on the first go-round. Go for it!
- If you’re waffling about a toy, pack it up in a box and write the date on it. Then hide it. (I have a deep shelf in my bedroom closet where I hide these toys.) This way, if your kids realize it’s missing and ask about it, you still have it. If after a set period of time (a month or two, at the most) they still haven’t realized it’s missing, donate the box without opening it. This method alleviates some of the worry that you’ll find yourself in hot water with your child after tossing a particular toy. I repeat: DO NOT OPEN THE BOX.
- Most of us adjust the size of our toy storage to the amount of toys the kids have. In my opinion this method is kind of crazy, because the pile of toys will just keep growing and our storage needs will never end. Instead, decide how much storage is reasonable and appropriate for your kids. Then decide that whatever won’t fit has to go. I decided that one Ikea storage bin and one armoire were plenty for the toyroom, plus they get three small bins for toys in our living room. Once you have set a reasonable space limitation, it becomes much easier to justify tossing more toys.
For those toys that you just can’t bring yourself to toss:
- Get buy-in – literally! B.G. had an Easy Bake Oven that she would sporadically ask to play with. However it’s so child-proof that it’s really no fun (it make dime-sized cupcakes) but not so completely child-proof that I’ll let her use it unsupervised. So I explained to her that if she wanted to sell it, she could keep the money. So far the Easy Bake Oven and the wooden cradle mentioned above have been sold, and the gigantic doll house is next on the list. I figured that if I could sell these items it was only fair that she should keep the profits. However, keeping her from buying even more stuff is a bit of a struggle…
The final step of this whole process is repeat, repeat, repeat!
Part 2 coming soon – How to keep the toy clutter at bay, even with Christmas just around the corner.