How to Get Rid of Toys

I have been decluttering my kids toys. No small feat, let me tell you.

I love toys.  They are pretty and bright and remind me of all of the fun times I have had playing with them with my children. 

I love having lots of options for my kids to play with because this keeps them occupied longer.  I love having all of the pieces of my kid’s toys because I never had all of the pieces to my toys when I was a kid. 

Being type A, I feel so much satisfaction in having all my kid’s toys organized.  I hate getting rid of toys that are perfectly good because my kids truly play with all of their toys.  I even hate getting rid of toys that are broken because maybe they could be fixed.

So I need to really gear up to get rid of toys. How do I do it?

Well, I started by finding my motivation, both mentally and emotionally.

If you haven’t already, check out my mental motivation:

Why Clutter is Bad for Children

If you’re still not convinced, check out my emotional motivation.  This one is what REALLY gets me:

Why I Gave Up Clutter For Good 

So, I’m coming from a place where I know that I need to get rid of most of my kid’s stuff.  Having fewer toys to pick up and less stimuli in our environment will be better for all of us.

Now on to the actual nuts and bolts of getting rid of my kids’ toys.

I started by getting some bags.  I got a few garbage bags and a few grocery store bags.

The garbage bags were for huge toys (trucks, dolls, stuffed animals) to go to the Salvation Army.

One little bag was for small toys (figurines, small pieces of toys).

One little bag was for garbage.  I don’t actually have a lot of garbage or broken toys, because I always fix my kid’s toys when the break.  I can’t help myself!

And, they actually play with just about ALL of their toys.  So, I also got four Sterilite bins and I decided to do a toy rotation with all the toys that we didn’t want to part with.

Set yourself up for success.

What does this mean?  Get your kids out of the house for several hours.  Put your favorite music on, and lock yourself in your toy room.

I begged my husband to take all of the kids out of the house for a few hours so I could do this.

So here is my process.

1. Start by cleaning up all of your kids toys.

This is only really important if you have an organizational system in place.  If your kid’s toys are typically just all dumped in a bunch of different bins without any sort of organization, you can skip this step.

All of my kid’s toys were picked up ahead of time, so each thing was in its home.  This was crucial to my process, because I want to make sure all of the things that I get rid of have all of their pieces with them.  Maybe that seems silly to you, but if I’m going to get rid of a perfectly good toy, I want to make sure that kid who receives it gets all of the pieces that go with it!

2. Now that all the toys are put away, dump out the first bin.

Thats right.  Dump out the whole bin you just picked up.

When trying to decide what stays and what goes, I wanted to put my hand on each thing they had.  This forced me to make a decision on every toy.  Does it go back in the bin?  Or does it go into one of my bags?  If I would have just picked through the bin, I would have likely missed a lot of the little junk things (ex. army man accessories that my son would never care enough to put on his army man).  Forcing myself to make a decision on each toy gave me the opportunity to decide whether each toy was worth saving,

3. Designate the toy to its proper place.

Start out with the easy things.

Broken?  Put it in the garbage.

If I could easily fix it, I glued it right then in there with my handy Gorilla glue and then put it where in its final destination.

Kids don’t play with it?  Salvation Army bag.

I hate hearing it?  Salvation Army bag.  I have two VTech cars that play songs randomly without anyone even touching them.  Bu-bye!

Multiples of the same toy or multiple toys with the same function?  Salvation Army bag for all but one of them.  I had seven sets of baby chewy keys.  Six of them went in the bag.

Once I got the easy things out of the way, I moved on to the harder things.  I sorted through all of the stuffed animals and reduced it to one bin that fit all of the stuffed animals and dolls.  I went through the kitchen stuff and got rid of the items that were junky.  I got rid of all of the baby toys that my kids never liked.  And on and on.

After all of their toys were dumped out, and intentionally placed either back where in their bin, or in one of my bags, my basement still felt stuffed with toys.

So I went back through everything.  I took half of the big trucks and put them in a Sterilite bin.  I removed the Lincoln Logs, the Magic Tracks, the dinosaurs, half of the costumes, the Duplo blocks and more.

By the time I was done, I had reduced my kids toys by about 75%.

They still have plenty of toys out, but they don’t have so many that they are overwhelmed by the choices.  Since I’ve done this, they’ve been so much better about playing with their toys without just wrecking the basement (seriously, were they just dumping bins for the fun of it before!?!).

My intention was to remove enough toys that my children would be able to clean up all of their toys on their own.  I feel like this may mean that this is how many toys their brains and bodies can handle.

Time will tell.  If, after a week or so, my kids are begin struggling to keep their areas clean and are just randomly dumping bins again, I’ll reduce their toys further.

Here is another little trick.  If, in a month or two, my kids never ask for the toys in the Sterilite bins, I’ll donate some of what is in there too.

Now unfortunately (fortunately?) my kids have amazing memories.  Because of this, I was afraid that they would come home and be devastated by the loss of their toys.  So, I told them that I was taking their toys and storing them so that there weren’t so many that were out.  I explained the rotation system  and they were fine with it.  I felt it was important to let them know what happened so it didn’t feel like their mean old mom just took all of their favorite (or not so favorite, as the case may be) things.

The results.

We are are almost a week into this new, much less cluttered, reality.  It is so much nicer.  I haven’t yelled at my kids to pick up their toys at all yet.  I even rearranged the room a little with the extra space I made and put their bookshelves closer to the couch.  Do you know what we’ve been doing more as a result?  Reading!

So in summary, my kids are playing more, they are making far less messes, I am much less stressed, we are all reading more, and we are all happier!  It is a win all the way around!

I hope that these results help some of you other mom toy-hoarders take the plunge!

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