How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids

Raluca Loteanu February 12, 2017
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how to declutter toys

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Having a child means having a lot of toys around you every time. At the beginning, there are 2-3 toys on the floor, but then you can easily notice that the room gets full of toys and the whole house becomes a mess. Putting toys away all the time gets frustrating and this kind of toy chaos isn’t beneficial for the kids either. The moment when I discovered for the first time some useful information about how to declutter toys in an effective way really brought a big change in my life. I started simplifying the way we handle Bogdan’s toys since he was a baby and we started using toy rotation, but some months ago I had the chance to make a big toy declutter and I learned a lot of things that I think that are useful for you too.

When we decided to move abroad I was so overwhelmed by all the preparations that I haven’t focused on managing Bogdan’s toys anymore and our house became full of toys. Before we moved to California, I had to go through all his toys and declutter them in an efficient way so that we could leave everything well organized before our leave. When we moved to our new home and the number of toys began raising again, I implemented again some rules to keep us organized and to allow my son to really enjoy his toys. In this way, our house is easier to clean, we have a lot more space where we can play and the toys are now helping us to connect and have fun instead of becoming a continuous source of mess and frustration.

If you want to simplify your way of managing your kids’ toys, I gathered here a complete guide about how to declutter toys and how to manage them so that you could benefit the most from them.

The benefits of decluttering and having fewer toys

First of all, here are some benefits of having fewer toys that convinced me to choose this simplified way of handling toys:

– kids focus better when they have fewer toys and they are more stimulated to use their creativity and imagination while playing

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– kids tend to play independently more when they have a simple and organized environment; most of the parents believe that offering their kids a lot of toys at the same time it will keep them busy for a longer period and will allow them to have more free time.It seems that things are completely different: playing in an environment with a lot of toys determines kids to become more easily distracted and get bored more often, so they will ask for the parent’s attention more often and engage less in independent play

– children will appreciate the toys more if they have the chance to focus on only a few of them instead of having a room full of them

– besides the benefits for your kids, one of the major benefits is that you will no longer need to clean up tons of toys every day and your house will look better; it is scientifically proven that a simpler and more organized home has a better impact on mental health so I think this is worth the effort to make this change!

How to declutter toys: the first steps

If your house is now full of toys (like it was mine before moving abroad), you need to start by making a complete declutter of all the toys. The first step for organizing the toys is to go through all of them and to establish what to do with every one of them. This could seem overwhelming at the beginning, but if you think about the benefits in the long run, it is definitely worth the effort. To make it easier, you can make this during a whole week, picking daily one place in the house to declutter until you go through all the toys.

Here is the most important rule on how to declutter – you create four boxes for sorting them: KEEP, DONATE, DISCARD and SAVE.

The DONATE box will include the toys your kids don’t use anymore and you want to donate to other kids.

The DISCARD box will include the toys that are broken or have missing parts and need to go to trash.

The SAVE box will include toys your kids don’t use, but you still want to keep. In this box, there will be two categories of toys: the ones your children don’t use anymore, but you want to keep them as memories and the ones your children don’t use now but could use in the future and you want to keep them until the kids grow a little older. For example, if you have a puzzle that it’s too complicated for your kids now it’s better to store it until the kids grown instead of letting it occupy space in the kids’ room. In this box, you can also include toys you want to keep for your next children (if you plan on having another baby soon), but you should limit the number of these toys to the ones that are really useful and in a very good shape.

The KEEP box will include the toys your kids play with and you want to keep at hand. This box will be organized in different categories in the next steps, but first, you need to finish going through all the toys and putting them in the right boxes.

One important thing: Some toys are really close to our heart because they bring us nice memories from the times when the child was smaller and we tend to want to keep them in the house for emotional reasons. This is the main reason why decluttering is sometimes very inefficient. It is important to remember that we need to start getting rid of things for allowing us to have a better-organized life. If you want to keep some nice memories, you can make photos of the toys just to remember them over the years or, even better, to make some pictures of your child with those toys. You can store the picture in a folder on your computer and this will be a lot better than keeping them in the house. It is also useful to think that donating toys is a very kind gesture and it will allow other kids to have the joy of playing with them.

Also, it is better to donate the toys in the DONATE box as soon as you finish the declutter and not to postpone this and to store them in your house because this will allow you to see the progress of decluttering and motivate you to move on to the next steps.

How to declutter toys: the next steps

After you finished sorting the toys in the four boxes you will be able to see some progress about how your house looks: the toys from the DONATE and DISCARD boxes will go away and the ones from the SAVE box will be stored and will not bring additional mess in the house.

Now you can move on to the next steps that imply organizing the toys from the KEEP box. I read about two methods of handling this stage and I will tell you about both of them here: I implemented one of them and it worked wonderfully for me, but I have friends that use the other method and are very satisfied with it, so you can try the one that fits you better.

 I will give you details about each of the methods below so that you can choose the most appropriate for you.

The “Use or Store” Method

This is a very simple way of organizing the KEEP box. First of all, you need to sort the items in the by category: markers, craft supplies, coloring books, cars, dolls, etc. You may notice that your child has many items in particular categories and these are the ones that need a better organization.

For example: if your kid has 50 markers, he probably doesn’t actively use all them and could easily use only part of them. You can choose 15 of them to remain at hand and the other 35 to be stored. In the same way, if your child has 40 cars you can decide to leave only 12 of them at hand and store the others.

Practically, the “Use or store” method means going through each category and deciding how many items will remain in the child’s room and how many will be stored. The kids will have fewer items at hand and will be able to enjoy them more and your house will be cleaner! 🙂

The items in storage will be used anytime you need: if the markers in the child’s room don’t work anymore you will be able to replace them, if your child gets bored with his cars or some of them get broken, you will have new ones to give him and so on. It is better to organize the toys into categories in the child’s room and in the storage space too so that it will be easier for you to keep track of them. You could have an arts and crafts space, a book space, a puzzle space and so on.

The number of toys you leave at hand is up to you but focusing on having just a few items in each category will help you fully enjoy the benefits of this declutter. The fact that some toys will be stored is great also because your child will be happy when you will offer him new items from the storage; it’s like offering him new toys without spending any money! 🙂

The “Toy rotation” method

This is the method I first used when Bogdan was a baby and it’s the one I use now too.  I will give you more details about how we use the toy rotation in a separate article, here I will include the basic rules you need to know if you want to apply this method.

The toy rotation means that you will have the toys split into several boxes and the child will receive only one box at a time. First, you need to decide how often you want to rotate the toys in order to know how many boxes you will need.

Here are some types of toy rotation to choose from:

daily toy rotation: this means you will change the toys every day so you will need 7 boxes, one for every day of the week (this type of toy rotation is good for stay-at-home moms because for them it’s really useful to have new activities to do with the children every day)

weekly toy rotation: this means you will change the toys on a weekly basis and the number of boxes will depend on how many toys you have (I would suggest using at least 4 boxes)

monthly toy rotation: this means you will rotate the toys monthly. so normally 3 boxes should be enough (you can use more boxes if your child still has a lot of toys after decluttering)

random toy rotation: this means you will have several boxes (normally 3-5 boxes) that you will rotate whenever your child gets bored with the toys he already has and you feel that it’s time for a change.

You can choose whatever type of toy rotation you tink it’s more appropriate for your kids, the only important thing is to stick with the plan of rotating the toys regularly.

After you decided what kind of toy rotation you will implement, it’s time to prepare the boxes and to sort the toys. First of all, you need to split the toys into categories: books, cars, dolls, puzzles, Lego and so on. Then you need to go through each category and divide the item into different boxes. For example, if your child has 20 cars and you decided to use 4 boxes for the toy rotation, you can put 5 cars in each box. At the end, you will handle the toys that don’t belong to a particular category and you will split them into boxes so that the boxes will have a similar number of toys.

The last thing to do is to add labels to the boxes and to store them. You will only use one box at a time, so the child will be able to play only with those toys for a period of time. If your child has particular toys that he uses every day (in our case it is a toy train), you can let those toys always at hand and not include them in the boxes, but this exception can be made only for a few items. There are many other things I could write about toy rotation because it was something that really changed the way we manage toys, but I will include all the details in a separate article (this one is already a very long one).

How to declutter toys: Some useful additional information

Sometimes it’s hard to declutter the toys and you can get discouraged during the process. It’s great to always remember the benefits of decluttering because they will certainly motivate you.

It is also important to learn to let go. For me, this was a very important lesson because I realized I was really attached to some belongings and that was preventing me from effectively decluttering our home. When I learned to let things go, everything changed and simplifying our life was one of the best things that happened to us. Sometimes the kids feel the same and have a difficult time letting toys go, so you need to keep this in mind when deciding whatever to get your child involved in the process or not, especially if you have small children.

If you need additional inspiration, you can find below 3 articles about decluttering that I really liked:

The life-changing magic of tidying up, for kids

The 20 toy rule: How we decluttered our playroom & simplified our life

How to declutter toys with the Konmari method.

I hope that all this information will be useful for you! Simplifying life can be a challenge at the beginning, but it is one of the best changes you could do for you and for your kids. I feel that every day and I totally recommend that you try it too and see how it works for your family!

how to declutter toys

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Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

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Comments (8 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    Belle

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    These are such great tips! I've had to do this recently since we moved. Belle | One Awesome Momma
  • avatar image

    Jessi

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    We have been decluttering out entire home lately. My daughter has so many toys, and her birthday is coming up so we have been focusing on her room now. We have been explaining that donating is important because it helps other kids and she is really starting to enjoy helping me go through it all.
  • avatar image

    Leah | Five for the Road

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    This is so great!! I really need to take time to do this. I know it would be so beneficial to my kids but I have such a hard time with the emotional attachment. I have done better with bringing less into my house so its a start!
  • avatar image

    lianne

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    some great ideas! My little boy kind of rotates his own toys if that makes sense? one day he will play cars all day and not be bothered with anything else and then another day he will be in his super hero costumes all day. But then once in awhile he has a day where every single thing gets pulled out and played with and I want to tear my hair out!! Lianne | Makes, Bakes and Decor
  • avatar image

    Emily

    February 14, 2017 Reply
    I really need to work on this. I can be ruthless with my own stuff, but it is a lot harder to be ruthless with my kids' stuff. I know there are definitely things that are just taking up space!
  • 17 smart and easy ways to save money - Playful Notes

    February 19, 2017 Reply
    […] 17. Buy fewer toys (if you have kids you certainly know how much money you get to spend each month for what they need; if you also add to the list of necessary items a lot of expensive toys, your budget will be seriously affected – buying fewer toys is good for your kids too because they will focus more on what they already have and they will become more creative; here are some ideas about decluttering toys and using toy rotation for a better managing of the toys you already have: How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids) […]
  • A step by step guide to toy rotation: a way to use fewer toys and encourage more independent play - Playful Notes

    February 21, 2017 Reply
    […] I wrote “How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids” I promised to come back with more information about the method we are using for managing […]
  • How to create a family meal plan to save money and time {+ printable meal planner} - Playful Notes

    June 8, 2017 Reply
    […] Read also: How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids […]

Leave your comment

Comments (8 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    Belle

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    These are such great tips! I've had to do this recently since we moved. Belle | One Awesome Momma
  • avatar image

    Jessi

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    We have been decluttering out entire home lately. My daughter has so many toys, and her birthday is coming up so we have been focusing on her room now. We have been explaining that donating is important because it helps other kids and she is really starting to enjoy helping me go through it all.
  • avatar image

    Leah | Five for the Road

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    This is so great!! I really need to take time to do this. I know it would be so beneficial to my kids but I have such a hard time with the emotional attachment. I have done better with bringing less into my house so its a start!
  • avatar image

    lianne

    February 13, 2017 Reply
    some great ideas! My little boy kind of rotates his own toys if that makes sense? one day he will play cars all day and not be bothered with anything else and then another day he will be in his super hero costumes all day. But then once in awhile he has a day where every single thing gets pulled out and played with and I want to tear my hair out!! Lianne | Makes, Bakes and Decor
  • avatar image

    Emily

    February 14, 2017 Reply
    I really need to work on this. I can be ruthless with my own stuff, but it is a lot harder to be ruthless with my kids' stuff. I know there are definitely things that are just taking up space!
  • 17 smart and easy ways to save money - Playful Notes

    February 19, 2017 Reply
    […] 17. Buy fewer toys (if you have kids you certainly know how much money you get to spend each month for what they need; if you also add to the list of necessary items a lot of expensive toys, your budget will be seriously affected – buying fewer toys is good for your kids too because they will focus more on what they already have and they will become more creative; here are some ideas about decluttering toys and using toy rotation for a better managing of the toys you already have: How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids) […]
  • A step by step guide to toy rotation: a way to use fewer toys and encourage more independent play - Playful Notes

    February 21, 2017 Reply
    […] I wrote “How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids” I promised to come back with more information about the method we are using for managing […]
  • How to create a family meal plan to save money and time {+ printable meal planner} - Playful Notes

    June 8, 2017 Reply
    […] Read also: How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids […]
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