Is your house starting to look more like a toy store than a home? Or are you sick of moving around piles of toys that your kid barely plays with? Here are 5 simple steps I use to reduce toy clutter in my home without feeling guilty or going insane.
But first, I want to talk about what you will gain when you minimize toy clutter in your house. I’m not a psychologist, but there are many studies that show kids with fewer toys are less bored, think more creatively, and appreciate their toys more. Hopefully, that helps alleviate some of the guilt we feel about wanting to give our kids the latest and greatest. They can actually be happier with fewer toys! Now that’s a win-win for everyone. 🙂
But you came here for some practical tips to reduce your toy clutter so let’s get to it.
Reduce Toy Clutter Now
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1.) Don’t buy too many toys.
In his book, Making the Terrible Twos Terrific, family psychologist John Rosemond says, “Too many toys smother a child’s ability to make choices and be creative. You can help develop your child’s imagination and resourcefulness (the ability to do a lot with a little) by not buying him a lot. Where toys are concerned, less is definitely more.”
I’m going to sound like Scrooge, but I haven’t bought my two-year-old any birthday or Christmas gifts yet. Do you think I’m a terrible person yet? 🙂 But honestly, she’s two and while it may be fun to watch her open more presents, she won’t remember it yet. Plus, thanks to the generosity of family and friends, she receives plenty of new toys each year to keep her quite busy.
Obviously, as she gets older that will change and we will give our daughter presents. But for now, it really helps minimize toy clutter in our home.
2.) Organize toys into “toss,” “keep,” and “donate” piles.
If you have a ton of toys block off a solid day to do separate them into piles. Place all the toys in one room and sort through one-by-one. Depending on how old your child is you can help enlist their help.
First, toss out any broken toys or super cheap toys. If you have a ton of happy meal toys you can either toss or collect them all and donate them to your local thrift store. They just don’t make them like they used to! Better yet, you can get your kiddo a small burger and fries without the kid’s meal to prevent bringing it into your house in the first place.
Second, create a keep pile of your child’s absolute favorite toys. If they are a little older you might need to have a conversation with them about how you want to help give other kids toys who may not be able to afford them.
Third, donate the rest. Make sure to include toys your kid no longer plays with, duplicates, or plastic toys that they get bored of easily.
3.) Create smart storage.
A place for everything and everything in its place! One of the best ways to control toy clutter is to contain it. I love using open baskets that aren’t too big and that I can see exactly what is in them. I keep a couple in our living room and a couple in my daughter’s bedroom.
When she’s done playing in a certain room or it’s time to go somewhere, I can easily throw all the toys in the baskets and slide them into the cupboard or under our coffee table. Since my daughter is getting older I ask her to help put her own toys away. I try to make it fun though by singing a “clean up” song that she now enjoys.
For her bathtub toys, I hang a mesh bag that suction cups to the shower. I can’t tell you what a game-changer this has been! I no longer had to step on small bath toys while taking a shower. After her bath, my daughter and I sing the “clean-up” song again as she helps me put the toys away.
Does she always pick up her toys? No. She’s two. But the more we do it the more she’s learning it’s part of our routine and she actually enjoys it!
4.) Implement a toy rotations system.
This step is really going to change your life. 😉 Get some medium-sized bins and divide your child’s toys into them. Make sure to put in a variety of toys including stuffed animals, building toys, bathtubs, etc. You can store them in a closet, basement, or even in the attic. Take out one bin and put the other bins out of sight. You’ve now created a toy rotation system!
Pick a time frame to change out the toys depending on how big the bin is. I usually change mine out every couple of weeks and it feels like my daughter got all new toys! Just make sure to leave out the “special daily” toys that your child looks for every day.
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5.) Only buy new toys when there is a real need.
Eventually, your child will outgrow their toys and it’ll be time to get new ones. I love toys that can grow with them or use their creativity the best though.
Personally, I love art supplies because they are consumable, don’t create extra clutter, and my daughter gets to use her imagination. She absolutely loves her bath crayons and markers. As far as toys go, I’m also a big fan of Green Toys. They are made from recycled milk bottles, toxic-free, super easy to clean, and simple enough that they will grow with her and help her use her imagination.
Also, think about making your own super easy no-cook playdough instead of buying it!
Going back to John Rosemond, he says, “The few toys you buy should be ones your child can take apart and put together on his own and that allow for lots of creative, constructive behavior. Crayons, clay, Lincoln Logs, Legos, Bristle Blocks, and large cardboard “bricks” are appropriate.”
I hope this helps you reduce toy clutter and feel better about it too. However, I also want to take a moment to remind you not to get discouraged and how sometimes, even my messy house reminds me that this isn’t our “forever” home.
If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy:
- 10 Tips to Declutter and Organize Your Whole Home
- 5 Tips to Maintain a Clutter-Free Home
- My 10 Commandments. of Slow, Simple Living