What to do with TOY clutter

If you have kids, you have toys. If you have an extended family, you have even more toys than your kids need. Therefore, you need to rid your house of toy clutter. Read on for rationalizing this daunting task and how it really won’t be that bad. 

Doing this process will create a feeling of more space in your home. Everyone loves more space. If you are like me, you get stressed with clutter in your space, I pray for you. It isn’t fun to get irritated with “stuff” but that irritation keeps everyone in my house in check. Like a mom warning light. “Uh oh, mom’s going on a rant! I better pick up my junk before she blows and threatens to throw it all away!” Something to this nature must be running through their minds when I get to those levels.

Let’s break it on down so this isn’t as overwhelming.

Holiday prep

Holiday prep by going through their things NOW! As a result, you’ll know what you’re kids actually need when family members ask for their holiday list. SCORE!

You will create space to welcome new toys in when you rid these areas of unwanted items. Otherwise, we overwhelm ourselves Christmas morning panicking, “Where in the world are we going to put all of this new stuff?!?” Right?

Think about it. Each holiday they have a few favorites, right? The rest gets tossed on the pile they might look at a few times when searching for their favorite toy, but not played with. Do yourself a favor man! You could save money AND your time.

I’m going to rant a bit, bear with me there is a point. Keep your guard up with gift-giving and receiving. You don’t have to deprive your children of happiness brought by toys. However, give them what they need – your love. Your love is not measured by how many toys they get to unwrap that you overwhelmed them with in order to “buy” their happiness. They want to spend time with you.

Get them a few favorites that will bring them joy or spark their imagination and learning. I’m not trying to geek out here to only buy educational toys, but my middle daughter, Reagan, was obsessed with L.O.L dolls last year. People we missed the boat on making millions off of too much plastic wrap, only to uncover a tiny plastic figure with microscopic accessories that may or may not change color in water. Mind blown. The fad is over in Reagan’s eyes and we’ve given them all to Goodwill.


Cleaning helpers

Kick the toy clutter with some sensitivity and help. Have the kids help in the process, this way its less likely to feel like a punishment that you’re pitching or donating their stuff!

Remind your kid cleaning helpers these are their toys. That you value their help in what to do with these toys. This will make it easier for them to find their toys when they want to play with them.

My oldest daughter, Kading, loves this game and is a big help to put the items away that haven’t found their way back to where they were to be stored. Reagan on the other hand, gets all excited finding these missing treasures and we struggle to get her to part with things. She’s an all or nothing kinda gal. Gracyn, who is two – doesn’t “get” to help in this process or we’ll have items scattered across every part of the house and a bigger mess than we started with. This process works best when she’s napping. ?

If you are looking for additional ways to “recruit” helpers for other house tasks, make sure to check out this blog post to give you some ideas.


Toy areas

Pick a toy area, grab your kids and let’s start!

We have 2 main toy areas. Upstairs living room closet and the basement playroom. We have two areas so that not everything is being drugged up and down the steps or left to break out necks on.

Each of these spaces has storage areas such as upright Tupperware storage with 3 clear drawers or baskets. I prefer clear drawers/shelves so kids can see what’s in it and the ability to separate into categories.

Baskets are a necessary evil. They serve a purpose by corralling the toy clutter but can easily get out of hand when the girls are quickly picking up and becomes a “catch-all” for everything they don’t want to put away in its correct spot. For us, a basket is used for the million babies the 3 girls still play with at all ages. In with the babies is the baby “accessories.” I FIGHT TOOTH AND NAIL TO KEEP OTHER RANDOM ITEMS OUT OF THIS BASKET – otherwise, it causes a whole other declutter session again all too soon.


“Keep or Pitch”

Having help cleaning the toy area comes in handy with your kids here for this. They have a choice in what happens with their toys. This way they don’t feel like this is a punishment and their stuff is being taken from them.

This is the fire round – quick decisions, not overthinking anything.

  • Pull out ALL the toys in the chosen start area
  • One item at a time ask the kids, ”keep or pitch?” – also referred to as “mom’s favorite game” in the Kress household
  • Sort them in keep or pitch piles
    • Pitch pile – broken toys, items that aren’t usable if missing pieces no one knows where those pieces might be, outgrown toys
    • Keep pile – toys used frequently, sentimental items, provoke learning or brain simulation.


Break down the PITCH Pile

Pile break down. As much as it would feel soooo good to pitch everything in the “pitch” pile. You could repurpose somethings.

Obviously, if something is broken, toss it in the trash. However, if there are parade toys, kids meal prizes etc – donate them to a teacher friend for their treasure box. Ideally, not your kids’ teachers otherwise you’ll be welcoming these items right back home. LOL!

For larger price point toys, donate to a relative that might be starting their family, daycares, church playrooms, Goodwill, garage sale, etc. These are a few ideas to get your gears rolling.

Regardless of where they go, they need an exit plan from your home.


Break down the KEEP pile

This is where you need to keep your guard up and not let too much stay that your kids seem “iffy” on. When the kiddos are slow to make the choice and want to keep it all, ask a few questions to get their brains rolling.

  • When was the last time you played with it?
  • Is it from someone/something special?
  • Do you honestly plan to play with it again in the next (insert timeframe)?

Yahoo! You just downsized the pile and even more to create an exit plan. Use the same delegation as with the pitch items of where these used items could go and further reduce the amount of toy clutter your kids have.

With the true KEEP items – find a home for everything. I only allow for 1 junk draw for several misc. items.
As our girls put things away, and had had another 20 bags to stuff in the bag drawer – it was time to reevaluate what ones were special or still used.

I hope you make this a priority and grab your little toy clutter creators to help. You will feel pounds lighter having this done before the holidays!

Please feel free to share the amazing progress of your toy clutter in the private Mental Edits Declutter group or on social media using #mentaledits


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