Do you sometimes wonder if your kids have too many toys? How do you declutter toys? Part of our Ultimate Guide to Minimalism series.
According to Overstuffed Life, here are three things that you need to know about toys:
- Toys multiply when you’re not vigilant.
- Toys are breakable.
- Kids eventually stop playing with them.
And if you feel bad about restricting the amount of toys your child has, consider the following article from Psychology Today, which explains why fewer toys are actually better! According to a study from the University of Toledo in Ohio:
“…an abundance of toys presented reduced quality of toddlers’ play. Having fewer toys can lead a young child to focus and engage in more creative, imaginative play.”
Toys can also become a hazard if you’re tripping over them or yelping in pain from stepping on a random toy’s sharp edges.
If you need some help with organizing and decluttering toys, keep reading for some practical tips on being clutterfree with kids’ toys.
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Decide What to Keep
Cheryl from Uncluttered Simplicity has helpful guidelines on deciding which toys to keep:
- Toys which support the current needs of your child
- Toys which encourage imaginative play
- Toys that are your child’s absolute favorites
- Special cherished items (limit these to a single container)
Getting your kids involved in the process is a great step towards teaching them hoarding prevention.
Jo from Neat N Tidy says that she got her son to pick out a few toys that he considered “too baby-ish” just before his third birthday. They did this together in order to successfully make room for the new items he would be getting for his birthday and other events.
Decide What to Discard
Rachelle Crawford from Abundant Life with Less recommends several types of toys that a minimalist family should do away with.
- Junk Toys
- Redundant Duplicates
- Endlessly Themed Toys
Junk toys mostly comprise of generic products, low quality items, or toys that have a broken or missing piece. Other toys in this category could include Happy Meal toys, party favors, toys from the Dollar Store, and cheap toys from flea markets or garage sales.
As for themed toys, there’s no need for a collection of mini cars that takes up an entire wall of your home, or a doll collection that’s so big it’s going to require its own life-size bedroom. Pick one or a few of the best items to keep, and donate the other items to free up the space in your home.
Be vigilant with every new toy that is coming into your house. Try to refrain from getting your child a non-exceptional toy for events like birthdays or Christmases.
Follow Your Child’s Cues
As you’re decluttering toys, do you find yourself wondering how many toys your child actually needs?
Deborah MacNamara, a clinical counsellor in Vancouver, says:
“Children need to play, but this doesn’t require toys.”
In other words, what a child needs is access to activities that nurture their imagination.
Activities like drawing offer a way for kids to express themselves while developing their skills in creativity and diligence.
As children approach the age of five, they may start showing a preference for specific types of play. Is your child showing a lot of interest in building Lego blocks, serving food, or taking their stuffed toys on extraordinary adventures? Provide toys that are related to your child’s interests.
Now and then, you can also spend on admission to an art museum or science center instead of spending on toys. An educational trip provides stimulation for your child and allows for personal interaction as they learn, explore, and ask questions about what they are viewing.
A simple, playful space for your kids ensures that a playroom doesn’t steadily overtake the other parts of your home.
Use multi-bin organizers such as an 8-cube shelf from Ikea. Melissa from Simple Lionheart Life uses it because it is sturdy and functional. By using smaller containers on the higher shelves, kids can easily see and access the toys stored there.
And Dawn, The Minimal Mom, has an inspiring video on how to organize kid toys in 20 minutes:
20 minutes can make a real difference with decluttering and organizing!
Other videos in her motivational Organize Toys Series include 3 Ways to get Kids Excited to Give Away Toys and How to get your Friends and Family to Give Less Toys.
Teach Your Kids
Teaching your kids to declutter their toys is possible, especially if decluttering becomes a regular activity in your household where kids can model your behavior.
It’s important to start young so that your child develops the habit of decluttering and organizing their living spaces. Your child will also feel proud about maintaining their belongings, which creates a win-win situation for all involved!
When getting your child involved with decluttering their toys, some of the things to consider are:
- The age of your child
- How much decluttering needs to be done
- The attention span of your child
When a child is involved in sorting out their toys, they are less likely to get in and out of stuff and mess up the bin or basket of blocks that just got neatly stored.
Talking to your child about donating items to other kids (who otherwise might not be able to afford the toy) also helps to develop empathy. When kids are involved with the donation process, it helps them understand how donation is meaningful. It also becomes a family project where you and your child are more intentional about your living space–and what you choose to bring into it.
As Cheryl from Uncluttered Simplicity says:
“It’s not the kid who buys the toys, it’s us.”
Once you’ve made some progress on decluttering toys, keep in mind the words of social psychologist Susan Newman, who says that “memories are more precious than presents.”
In other words, instead of heading to the store or Amazon to buy an additional gadget or toy for your child, consider activities that you and your child can remember and cherish. Some fun things to do include a weekly trip to the library, monthly trip to a nature park, or going shopping for baking ingredients to make a traditional family recipe. This way, your child can be happy and bond with the family without the need for bringing in a lot more stuff into the home.