Toys Everywhere! (And How to Get Rid of Them)


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When my son was born, he was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Boy, was that child lavished upon! Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends from church, and friends from out of state showered us with blessings. We were dumbfounded, thankful beyond words, and a little overwhelmed as the adorable outfits and baby gear rolled in. Perhaps more than anything, the amount of toys we received over the next three years was incalculable!

We are so grateful for the generosity of our loved ones. To this day I still think back on how much everyone blessed us, and feel a warm glow inside.

But…eventually, from a practical standpoint, something had to be done about the toys-versus-space ratio!

Time to Declutter the Toy Collection

I remember when my son was around eighteen months old, I walked into his room one day and it looked like a tornado had touched down. I envisioned my son as a teenager, with his room looking just like this, only ten times worse.  On the one hand, I knew that this would be a familiar scene in any family’s home. Still, it bothered me that my son had such an enormous excess of “stuff”–especially since he only used 50 percent of it! It was time to simplify my little boy’s toy collection.

We decided on a simple system for keeping the sea of toys at a reasonable level. We purchased a cube shelf unit, and kept all his small toys in it, except for stuffed animals. It was similar to this one.

When his toy collection increased so that it could not be contained in that shelf, we started sorting and donating. Without fail, every time I sorted through his toys, I was able to get rid of objects that he hadn’t played with in months. Once he got old enough to help me, I would involve him in sorting. He could tell me if he still liked a toy, or if he never played with it anymore. Now, every six months or so, we go through his toys (especially after Christmas and his birthday). Because we’ve done this since before he can remember, he never gives me trouble about giving away some toys. He also likes the idea of “giving them to a little boy or girl who needs them” (which is true, when we donate them to a thrift store!).

If you’re looking to simplify your child’s room and toy collection, here are a few ideas:

  • Get rid of duplicates and broken pieces. At one point, I discovered my son had two sets of the exact same blocks. That was creating a huge sense of visual chaos in his room! Donating one of those sets made all the difference in the world for keeping his room clean. Also, he had several toys that had missing parts or pieces broken off. These I tossed, recycled, or donated as needed.
  • Decide on a certain amount of storage space for toys, and don’t go beyond that. Using the cube unit worked for us, but some other system might strike your fancy–a set of baskets, a bookshelf, or a toy chest. When the toys start to overflow their space…time to donate!
  • For holidays, consider buying other things besides toys. Because we have grandparents and aunties who love to buy toys as presents, we tend to buy books or art supplies for our son around the holidays instead. This cuts way down on how many toys we have around the house.

We don’t operate on a sparse, militarist policy with our son’s toys. However, I found that if I never monitor what goes into his room, it becomes a disaster zone that leaks out into the rest of the house! It’s also good for him to learn that he doesn’t have to get every toy he wants.

What works for you when organizing your kids’ rooms? Do you have any advice or tips to share?

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