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I know how it happens. A little toy here, a little toy there, a birthday comes, then Christmas… A few years go by and we hang on to things and before we know it, our homes are insane and overflowing with toys.
There’s a lot of judgement out there about how it happens, but I feel you, parents. It’s hard to throw things out. Parents get attached more to the memories associated with certain toys. They represent a stage our children were in when they were younger, and it’s hard to let go. It really is.
But it’s okay. We’re here and we have identified the problem and we can do something about it without getting crazy and throwing everything out.
We reduced the toy clutter in our house to the tune of 4 large filled bins, the kids willingly helped, and everyone was happy afterwards.
Yes, really. We found a happy compromise.
This was the train table in our living room recently, and there were still more toys on the floor and in their room.
It was time to put up or shut up. There were just too many and our storage couldn’t contain them all.
We would have the kids clean them up to earn screen time and chore money, but it was a huge, constant undertaking. They were tired of cleaning up so many toys, and we were tired of it being such an event.
It was time to get reorganized and reduce the pile.
This is how we did it:
I got out a few bins I already had, and I went out and bought a few more to get serious about it (that I will reuse afterwards.)
We involved the kids and they helped sort the toys into the bins with us. I think it actually worked better that they had a say-so. We had to negotiate a few things, but overall they did great.
I labeled the bins Room, Trash, Donate, Attic and Outside.
I recruited my husband as the backup enforcer.
I knew he’d be great at negotiating and just pointing to a bin that a toy needed to go in when we started to lose steam and couldn’t decide. And we started sorting.
1. The “Room” bin is the regular toy box that stays in the kids’ room.
These are the toys out of the giant pile that the kids definitely wanted to keep and play with a lot. So the toys in the Room bin are the favorites that they chose.
2. The “Trash” bin was filled with toys from the pile that were broken and unable to be fixed, had missing pieces or sharp edges and are unfit to donate.
I was really impressed that we had the courage to stick to our guns on this and that this box was so full. We had a lot of stuff to get rid of.
3. The “Donate” box was for toys that the kids don’t play with anymore but are in good condition to be played with again.
This was a hard box for me to look at in the end, but the kids helped choose these so I tried not to look and it is now covered with the lid.
4. The “Attic” box was filled with toys that the kids still want but don’t play with very often.
We plan to take them down from the attic in a few months and swap them out with toys from the Room box. This is also where we put the sentimental keepsake toys that we wanted to keep, though they may not get a lot of action right now.
We made sure to also have them put some newer toys in there so they have a lot to be excited about when we rotate them back in.
5. Finally, we made an “Outside” box for the larger, bulkier toys that take up a lot of room.
They are toys that aren’t in the greatest condition, but the kids want to keep. We will put them in the garage, and they will become outside toys.
It took us all about an hour and a half of sorting and working together to get this accomplished, but it was really worth the effort. Just look at that happy train table!
We let them choose some favorites from the Room box to keep on the train table.
We left the table and drawers mostly empty because we know that other Room toys will migrate back here, but there’s a lot less to worry about now, and we know it will all fit back in their room.
So in all, we reduced our toy clutter to the tune of 4 large bins.
The toys in the Donate and Trash bins on the left go completely away. The toys in the front, right Attic and Outside bins get moved elsewhere, and the toys in the white Room bin are shared between the train table and the kids’ room.
We went ahead and moved the bins right away to get it done. (The Donate bin will be moved out in the morning.)
So we did it! Reducing clutter lightens the mood, and I’m showing the following picture as evidence that everything is business as usual with no psychological damage to the kids.
They found a lot of loose parts to their existing playsets, so they seemed to play a lot easier without having to dig through huge piles of toys, especially when it came to all of the parts to the PotatoHeads.
They still have plenty of toys to play with, we just have a lot more room.
So this is what worked for us, I hope this helps you or gives you a fresh idea on how to get control of all of your toys too.
Thank you for reading!