the village - How to declutter your child's toys

Helping to raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice and cool finds.
The village: helping raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice, hacks and cool finds
How to declutter your child's toys

SPRING CLEANING

How to declutter your child's toys

by Sarah Kossits

As a parent, it sometimes feels like one day you have your child’s toy situation under control and the next they’ve completely taken over your home. That’s why one of your most daunting spring cleaning tasks is to get rid of some! Not only is figuring out which ones stay and which ones go a challenge, but organizing them in a way that you hope will be sustainable is another. Add your kids wanting to get involved to the mix and it can become overwhelming really fast! However, with a few tips and tricks, cleaning out their toys doesn’t have to be so difficult.

Clean without the kids first

Even though it may be tempting to let your kids help you from the get-go, doing so is a good way to ensure that they put up a fight to keep toys that you know they haven’t touched in months. The last thing you need when trying to reduce the number of toys is a crying kid pulling at your heart strings!

The best way to start the purge is to first get rid of anything they can no longer play with. Getting rid of anything that’s broken or missing a piece is a good way to clear some space since they are no longer usable! Once you get rid of those, add the toys they haven’t played with in at least 3 months to the pile. Chances are they won’t even notice that these toys are missing at all!

“Make sure that your children know that they’ll have a choice. If there’s a toy that you think should be donated but that they’ve decided to keep, let them.”

Introduce the idea

Before having your kids go through their toys themselves, it’s a good idea to first talk to them about getting rid of toys in general so it won’t be as upsetting. After all, getting rid of toys isn’t a bad thing — those that you can donate will get a second life and will bring joy to someone less fortunate. Using a big cleanup as a teaching moment about generosity can help soften the blow of parting with some of their old favourites.

You can also motivate your children with the fun things they’ll be able to do with less toys! For example, though it may make them sad at first, they’ll be happy when there’s more room to build a massive pillow fort.

Finally, make sure that your children know that they’ll have a choice. If there’s a toy that you think should be donated but that they’ve decided to keep, let them. This instills autonomy & builds confidence in their decisions—two traits that you want your children to have later in life.

Let the kids have at it!

Once you’re ready to clean with your kids, there are a few ways to help them willingly donate their toys.

Start by giving your kids an appropriately sized bin or shelf space for their toys. Tell them that the space provided is enough, so everything that they want to keep has to fit in it without overflowing. This forces them to make difficult decisions about what they want most.

Should they need help deciding what to get rid of, it can be helpful to sort their toys by “type.” For example, if you hold up every individual toy dinosaur to your dino-loving child and ask them if they want to keep it, they’ll probably say yes to all of them. If you lay out all the dinosaur toys side by side, they’ll see that they do have a lot of dinosaurs and will be more willing to get rid of a few!

If there’s a toy that seldom gets touched but they insist on keeping it, compromise and offer to keep it someplace safe that’s not in their allotted space. If they ask for it in the next month, let them keep it! Chances are they won’t mention it at all and you can quietly donate it.

An Image

Once all the toys have been sorted and the decisions have been made, consider letting the kids decide where each toy should be stored. This allows them to have some control over their own space and makes them more likely to put the toys back where they belong.

Lastly, remember not to rush the process. These are difficult decisions for them. Letting them take the time they need to figure it out will help them be more confident in their decisions and be more satisfied with the end result! It’s completely fine to break the toys down by categories and do it over a longer period of time. Letting your little ones recharge in-between will give them a mental break that will ultimately result in more toys being given away.

Keep it organized

Once you’re satisfied with what’s left, the next mission is to keep everything organized for as long as you can.

Do this by instilling a “one in/one out” rule with your kids. After all, a lot of the toys they accumulate are gifts they receive from others! To prevent the quantity of toys from skyrocketing again, teach your kids that for every new toy they bring in, an old one has to be donated. This keeps you at more or less the same number of toys while taking into account that realistically, all of their toys won’t come from you.

It’s also beneficial to find ways to make the daily cleanup fun. One way to do this is to have a specific “cleanup” song —about five minutes long —that will play when it’s time to tidy up. The song allows you & the kids to have nightly dance parties, making toy pickup less of a chore!

Lastly, keep everything under control by going through the toys alone every so often. Simply rotating the toys for seasonality and age will help get rid of a few. You’d be surprised how quickly kids outgrow toys! Also, if you have kids close in age, consider rotating toys in and out if you have the room to store them—that way, your kids will always be stimulated with play but will have different toys to keep things fresh.

Though it’s not easy, these suggestions will hopefully help you get the toy situation under control in your house. If you’re looking for some unique ways to donate toys and further enforce the idea of charity in your kids after the big cleanup, be sure to check out our ideas here!

SPRING CLEANING

How to declutter your child's toys

by Sarah Kossits

As a parent, it sometimes feels like one day you have your child’s toy situation under control and the next they’ve completely taken over your home. That’s why one of your most daunting spring cleaning tasks is to get rid of some! Not only is figuring out which ones stay and which ones go a challenge, but organizing them in a way that you hope will be sustainable is another. Add your kids wanting to get involved to the mix and it can become overwhelming really fast! However, with a few tips and tricks, cleaning out their toys doesn’t have to be so difficult.

Clean without the kids first

Even though it may be tempting to let your kids help you from the get-go, doing so is a good way to ensure that they put up a fight to keep toys that you know they haven’t touched in months. The last thing you need when trying to reduce the number of toys is a crying kid pulling at your heart strings!

The best way to start the purge is to first get rid of anything they can no longer play with. Getting rid of anything that’s broken or missing a piece is a good way to clear some space since they are no longer usable! Once you get rid of those, add the toys they haven’t played with in at least 3 months to the pile. Chances are they won’t even notice that these toys are missing at all!

“Make sure that your children know that they’ll have a choice. If there’s a toy that you think should be donated but that they’ve decided to keep, let them.”

Introduce the idea

Before having your kids go through their toys themselves, it’s a good idea to first talk to them about getting rid of toys in general so it won’t be as upsetting. After all, getting rid of toys isn’t a bad thing — those that you can donate will get a second life and will bring joy to someone less fortunate. Using a big cleanup as a teaching moment about generosity can help soften the blow of parting with some of their old favourites.

You can also motivate your children with the fun things they’ll be able to do with less toys! For example, though it may make them sad at first, they’ll be happy when there’s more room to build a massive pillow fort.

Finally, make sure that your children know that they’ll have a choice. If there’s a toy that you think should be donated but that they’ve decided to keep, let them. This instills autonomy & builds confidence in their decisions—two traits that you want your children to have later in life.

Let the kids have at it!

Once you’re ready to clean with your kids, there are a few ways to help them willingly donate their toys.

Start by giving your kids an appropriately sized bin or shelf space for their toys. Tell them that the space provided is enough, so everything that they want to keep has to fit in it without overflowing. This forces them to make difficult decisions about what they want most.

Should they need help deciding what to get rid of, it can be helpful to sort their toys by “type.” For example, if you hold up every individual toy dinosaur to your dino-loving child and ask them if they want to keep it, they’ll probably say yes to all of them. If you lay out all the dinosaur toys side by side, they’ll see that they do have a lot of dinosaurs and will be more willing to get rid of a few!

If there’s a toy that seldom gets touched but they insist on keeping it, compromise and offer to keep it someplace safe that’s not in their allotted space. If they ask for it in the next month, let them keep it! Chances are they won’t mention it at all and you can quietly donate it.


An Image

Once all the toys have been sorted and the decisions have been made, consider letting the kids decide where each toy should be stored. This allows them to have some control over their own space and makes them more likely to put the toys back where they belong.

Lastly, remember not to rush the process. These are difficult decisions for them. Letting them take the time they need to figure it out will help them be more confident in their decisions and be more satisfied with the end result! It’s completely fine to break the toys down by categories and do it over a longer period of time. Letting your little ones recharge in-between will give them a mental break that will ultimately result in more toys being given away.

Keep it organized

Once you’re satisfied with what’s left, the next mission is to keep everything organized for as long as you can.

Do this by instilling a “one in/one out” rule with your kids. After all, a lot of the toys they accumulate are gifts they receive from others! To prevent the quantity of toys from skyrocketing again, teach your kids that for every new toy they bring in, an old one has to be donated. This keeps you at more or less the same number of toys while taking into account that realistically, all of their toys won’t come from you.

It’s also beneficial to find ways to make the daily cleanup fun. One way to do this is to have a specific “cleanup” song —about five minutes long —that will play when it’s time to tidy up. The song allows you & the kids to have nightly dance parties, making toy pickup less of a chore!

Lastly, keep everything under control by going through the toys alone every so often. Simply rotating the toys for seasonality and age will help get rid of a few. You’d be surprised how quickly kids outgrow toys! Also, if you have kids close in age, consider rotating toys in and out if you have the room to store them—that way, your kids will always be stimulated with play but will have different toys to keep things fresh.

Though it’s not easy, these suggestions will hopefully help you get the toy situation under control in your house. If you’re looking for some unique ways to donate toys and further enforce the idea of charity in your kids after the big cleanup, be sure to check out our ideas here!

Sarah Kossits is a Montreal-based writer with five years experience writing about sports, feature stories, food and more! Having grown up with a very busy schedule, she became passionate about organization at a young age and still organizes every aspect of her life as an adult. In her free time you can find her playing hockey, sipping a strong coffee or taking a nap!

Sarah Kossits is a Montreal-based writer with five years experience writing about sports, feature stories, food and more! Having grown up with a very busy schedule, she became passionate about organization at a young age and still organizes every aspect of her life as an adult. In her free time you can find her playing hockey, sipping a strong coffee or taking a nap!

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