How to Clean Out and Organize the Kids Toys!
Anyone with kids knows that between what you give to your little ones as gifts, what the grandparents buy, and what your kids receive as birthday presents from friends, the amount of toys a child owns is enormous. Pile on top of that the stuff they collect as prizes from kiddie meals, favor bags at birthday parties, and other tchotchkes they bring home from school, and your bookshelves, closets, and bins are overflowing.
Now, multiply that by six kids! Can you feel my pain?
Over the years, I've taken several different approaches to tackling the toy overload/clutter in my home. Today I'll share some of my best tips with you!
Tip #1: What NOT To Do!
When my kids were younger, I would sort through their toys while they were napping or at preschool and stash a few boxes of rarely played-with toys in our basement. If a few weeks went by without the kids looking for anything that I had packed in the boxes, off to the donation center they went! One of the reasons I took this approach is that my oldest son was a junior hoarder in the making when he was younger and could never agree to part with anything. (Seriously — he even collected carpet fuzz and kept it in his pocket!)
But I didn't like that I was making the decisions without their partnership, and I felt that I wasn't teaching them how to make decisions about what they owned and why, which truly is a life-long lesson that kids need to learn at some point.
Oh, and there was one time when it really caught up with me — when I realized I discarded my son's Harry Potter wand into the donation box, long after it was picked up. Eight years later, he still reminds me of that one.
Tip #2: Get the Kids Involved and Ask the Key Questions
Now that my kids are older, I am happy to report that they like to be the decision makers on what to keep and what they are done playing with. It just took lots of practice and patience while working alongside of them and going through every single object we found and asking the key questions …
- Do you still play with?
- Do you still love it?
- Do you really think we need to keep it?
- Do you think some other child is ready to own it?
Tip #3: Sort Toys into Piles Based on Keep, Donate, Trash, and Relocate
As you sort through the toy closet/bin/shelf in front of you, together you make the decision on whether each item stays or goes. I like to use empty laundry baskets for this process. I use one basket for things that I know I can donate, such as gently used books, puzzles with all of the pieces, unopened craft kits the kids never used, etc.
I use another basket for items that need to go into the trash — broken toys, items with missing pieces, and all of those little trinkets that came in goodie bags or as prizes. Finally, I use a third basket for items that we intend to keep but don't belong in the toy closet, like library books, stray socks, etc.
Tip #4: For the Items That Are Staying; Group Like Things Together
People think that when they organize that it means it's time to go out and buy a bunch of containers. But I say, “Use what you have!” Shoe boxes are great for storing small toys — Legos or even games that no longer have the original box.
Get the kids to help you decide how to store it and where in the closet or on the shelf the box will go. If they feel they had some hand in creating the storage system, they are more likely to use it!
Tip #5: Just Know That You Will Need To Do All of This Again!
Sigh. Nothing lasts forever. Especially a decluttered and organized toys closet. Kids will collect and receive more stuff. They will move on from the toy truck and doll phase into crafts and games, and the day will come when you'll need to conduct this process all over again. Just keep the kids involved, and you'll give them skills to last a lifetime!
How often do you clean out your kids toys?