Fellow parents, does it ever feel like you’re drowning in toy clutter? Do you have to shove them aside with your feet to walk through your child’s room, or scoop them off the sofa before you can sit down?
Dealing with my kids’ toy clutter used to take up most of my evening. Sure, I had them routinely pick up their things, but sometimes it felt like there were just so many! So, I developed a few strategies that I hope will also help you reduce toy clutter, too.
Toy Clutter Leads to Overwhelmed, Bored Kids
Toy clutter is mentally and emotionally overwhelming for both kids and adults. When there are too many toys around, kids can’t decide which one to play with, so they get bored.
Or, they’ll go with an easy choice, which means they are don’t develop creativity or learn new skills. Either way, the cause is the same: having too many toys.
Drama-Free Steps to Reduce Toy Clutter
Play it right, and your kids may become partners in the process of paring down the number of toys. But if not, that’s okay, too. There are sneaky ways to get the job done without drama.
1. Decide on a Reasonable Number of Toys
There’s no set number of toys that a child should have, so you’ll need to decide that for yourself. Common sense says a child who’s home all day and young needs more than a pre-teen who spends more time hanging out with friends. You know your kids best.
2. Holiday Help
It was always easiest for me to get the kids on board with giving up old toys right before the holidays or their birthdays, when they knew they’d be getting new ones.
So, okay, it wasn’t always a 1:1 replacement but they were fine with that. Plus, it gave me a chance to remember what they did have so I wouldn’t buy duplicates.
3. Start with Toys They’ve Outgrown
When kids play with toys that are too young or too easy for them, they aren’t challenged. Then their skill learning slows down, and so does their creativity.
So, go through the toy clutter and collect all the toys they’ve outgrown, then set those aside in a donation box.
4. Say a Slow Goodbye to Old Toys
If your child isn’t ready to let go of an old toy, stick it on a shelf for a while. I’d put ours on the living room bookshelf, wait a couple of weeks, then move it to a closet.
If they didn’t ask to play with it by the end of the month, it went to the thrift shop. Chances are, once your kid’s toy is out of sight, it’ll be out of mind and then you can get it out of your house, too.
5. Emphasize the Kindness in Donating Toys
Just like adults, kids hold onto things they don’t need because it feels wasteful to throw them out. Once I turned letting go of toys into an act of giving to others, my kids got excited to let go of toy clutter.
So encourage your child to imagine how happy it will make someone to get a new-to-them toy. Feeling good about themselves for doing something kind is a great motivator to get rid of toy clutter.
6. Send Toys on Vacation
We sent more than one toy packing on “vacation” to Grandma’s house. Shipping a box of my son’s toys to grandma’s gave him something else to look forward to when we visited.
And when Grandma is the reason your child has too many toys, there’s a certain clever logic to this.
7. Rotate What’s Left
Rotating toys is another excellent way to reduce toy clutter. I did this by dividing my kids’ toys into three piles. Then I put two piles in storage boxes in the closet. When they lost interest, we’d rotate.
To them, felt like having all new toys. But to me, it felt like victory since I didn’t have to keep spending my evenings dealing with toy clutter.
Now that you know which toys you’ll be keeping, here’s how to clean them!