Learn how to declutter and organize toys for REAL families. A happy medium between minimalism and having too much stuff.
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Now that Christmas has come and gone, I find myself staring at the mountain of toys that my boys received. As much as I’d love to be a totally minimalist mom, I know it’s just not realistic for our family. The boys have a reasonable number of toys to play with and we can easily put it all away at the end of the day.
Do a Pre-Holiday / Pre-Birthday Purge
Any time I know the boys are going to be receiving gifts, I go through their current toys and pull out:
- anything they don’t play with or have outgrown
- anything that’s broken or has missing pieces
- anything that has too many duplicates (how many toy cars do we need?)
- anything that I don’t like or find too annoying (mom’s sanity is important!)
For the most part, these unwanted toys go in the donate pile. More expensive or special toys might go a on a swap and sell page on Facebook or given to a friend. I do have a “memories” drawer for the boys and there are a handful of things I’ve kept that I’d rather not part with — blocks my mom made, their lovies they don’t use anymore, and so on. I try not to be too sentimental and often pass along much-loved toys to my closest friends with younger kids.
If your kids are older, get them involved. Have them choose which toys they would like to give to a kid who is less fortunate than they are. Lots of lessons to be taught here!
Do a Post-Holiday / Post-Birthday Purge
Yes, this is basically the same thing as above, but I always find more to get rid of after the holidays or their birthday. Often the new toys will outshine the old and toys they used to play with sit idle.
Save Toys for Other Occasions
Try letting your kids have a few of their new toys, and put the rest in storage for a few months. If they are young enough, consider re-gifting them! I put a lot of the boys’ toys in a bin up in the closet after their birthday since they received so many (and quite a few of them were a little too advanced for them). Then I wrapped up a few for Christmas and they opened them anew — with no memory that they’d already received them before. Hashtag winning.
Have a Dedicated Space for Toys
Our house is not huge and we don’t have a dedicated play-space for the boys so they play in the living room. I have a metal rolling bin for their toys, which I find helps me limit the number of toys we keep. My bin is from World Market, but they don’t sell it anymore. Here’s a similar set of three bins at Houzz.
I am not a fan of the big plastic storage bins that a lot of people have — I have never wanted my home to feel like it’s being taken over by kid stuff, plus that level of organizing for toys seems unrealistic to me. I find the metal bin to be a great alternative: clean-up in the evenings is quick, plus we can roll it behind the couch or into the teepee when the kids aren’t playing.
Yes, I have a teepee in my living room. Maybe my home is being a little taken over by kid stuff. But it’s a cute teepee (similar one here), so there is that.
As they have gotten bigger, their toys have gotten bigger, of course, so there are a few things that don’t live in the bin, including a box of DUPLO blocks, two scooters, and their play cleaning sets.
Clean Up Every Single Day
The last thing I want to do at the end of the day is clean our house. But Ryan and I make a point of picking up the boys’ toys every single evening (they help a little before bed, but right now they are too young to really do it themselves) before we do anything else (along with the dishes and the cloth diapers). It’s not difficult — just chuck everything into the rolling bin
I can probably count on one had the number of evenings we’ve skipped the tidying ritual and every time I regretted it the next morning. Having a clean slate every morning makes me feel like my house is all of ours, not just the kids. It also makes it easier to do other household chores, like vacuuming and mopping.
Hope you found these tips helpful! I know it will both get harder (toys with more parts, etc.) and easier (actually having the boys help us) to deal with the toys in the future, so I’ll be sure to come back and update this post if our system changes!
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