Do you struggle to manage toy clutter? Me too! I adore my kids and want them to have everything that’s good for them in this world, but not at the expense of my mental health. When you have one shared space for living, playing and relaxing, toy clutter can quickly get the better of you. Here’s what I do to ensure I don’t go crazy when it comes to toys.
9 Tricks I Use To Organize and Minimize Toys in my Home
1. Take note of what gets played with
What do your kids actually play with? My boys pretty much stick with the plastic dinosaurs, hot wheels, and fire engines. I have zero interest in inciting World War 3, so I will steer clear of the beloved toys. One thing I have noticed when tackling toy clutter is that less is definitely more. I find the fewer toys in the toy box, the more they get played with. Keep your kids’ favorites around for them to play with and they will hardly notice the excess disappearing.
2. Clear out the non-age appropriate toys
Are you hanging on to baby toys or toddler toys, even though your kids don’t play with them? If so, you’re not alone. Of all the toys, getting rid of the baby toys were the toughest for me. Giving them away meant I was done having babies, and I really struggled.
In fact, almost immediately after posting them on my local message board I had ‘buyers remorse’ and told my husband I would remove the posting. He talked me down from the ledge, and shortly after I received a message from a new mama who was going through hard times. She later sent a photo of her baby playing with the toys and I felt a flood of gratitude. At being able to help out a new parent, and also that I hadn’t removed my posting. This was a month ago and my kids have not even noticed.
3. Eliminate the small plastic crap
I’m looking at you kinder surprise/happy meal and co. You are the toys I despise the most. You get in the strangest places and hurt my feet when I step on you. I’m taking the power back and saying no more.
Yesterday, I was able to remove a full plastic bag of happy meal toys from the toy box without the kids even seeing me. I’m donating these to my local charity store, who resell them by the bag-full.
4. Stop buying happy meals/kinder surprise etc
Yep, no more happy meals for us. It’s cheaper to just get a plain burger and fries anyway, BYO water.
5. Talk to kids about giving/donating
Giving or donating to other kids in need is a great way to clear toy clutter. BUT, how you approach this strategy with your kids depends on their age. Mr 5 is starting to understand how privileged he is, and is showing a genuine interest in helping others. Yet, just 12 months ago he wouldn’t even pass a toy to his baby brother without a tantrum. If your kids are older, talk to them about passing on the toys they don’t use to other children.
6. Allocate a play area
No playroom? No problem. It doesn’t have to be an entire room but toys need somewhere to live. For us, it’s a corner of our living room. That’s not to say the toys stay in the corner. Nope, the toys go everywhere (I swear it’s a conspiracy), but at the end of the day when we have tidy up time (thank you, Preschool for instilling that wee nugget) the toys go in the same place. It means that hubby and I can enjoy the evening in our living room without being stressed out by toy-nado’s (see what I did there).
7. Invest in the right storageQuite often, clutter is caused by simply not having enough storage. In my small house, I need to have items that serve at least two purposes, which is why our toy box doubles as a bench. It has a hardtop that can be placed over the box when visitors are coming and used as extra seating. We also have the best Lego storage – a play mat which folds out for play and then becomes a storage bag when it’s time to go away. It’s genius!
8. Gently coach grandparents about gifts
I know my parents and in-laws get great joy from my children and love to spoil them. I don’t want to take that joy away from them, however, my house can’t fit any more stuff.
Both sets of parents now accept that we live in a very small space and we don’t need any more toys. Any toys they purchase must be kept at their own houses, for the kids to play with when they visit. The only exception to this rule is Lego. They now try to give an experience (zoo tickets, movies) or cash.
9. Join a Toy Library
What is a toy library, I hear you ask? A library for toys. It’s the ultimate tool in a minimalist parent’s toolbox. In my area, you pay a small annual membership fee and can borrow items for three weeks at a time.
Toy libraries are so great for keeping toy clutter at bay as they are usually high-quality toys and they still have the ‘new’ factor so kids play with them a lot. Sometimes returning a new favorite toy back to the toy library is a struggle for children, so we try to make a big deal of choosing a new item to play with and spend a good bit of time at the toy library deciding which toy we’ll take next.
Tip: Some toy libraries offer discounted membership if you volunteer to help out, and you can usually bring your kids along. It’s a great budget buster. To find a toy library near you check out the USA Toy Library Association website.
I truly believe that kids are overwhelmed by too much stuff, including toys. And by having too many toys available we are teaching them to value less, which is not how I want my boys to grow up. Mama’s you can manage toy clutter. By utilizing these strategies you can keep your home calm, your kids happy and your sanity intact.
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