Christmas is just a few weeks away. Our kids are going to get inundated with gifts, toys and books. Where will you put it all? Before the Christmas influx, it’s time to make room! And when you declutter your kids toys, you can get an idea of what to get them for Christmas, so that they fit in better. You can plan wish lists, and get your kids to suggest ideas too.
The bonus to decluttering your kids’ toys? You can clean up their rooms or playroom too!
First, toss all the toys that have something wrong with them.
If it’s broken or missing pieces, throw it out. If it’s dirty, stained, or otherwise gross, unless it can washed and sanitized (and you want to go to the effort of doing so), just toss it. There’s no sense in keeping something that is icky or dangerous.
Most plastic toys are probably recyclable, and if it’s cloth, you could possibly use it in a bonfire or your fireplace. For the rest, make sure you wrap up any sharp edges well, so that it won’t cut through the bag. You may even want to double-bag it.
Second, donate the outgrown and dated, formerly trendy toys.
We all get the toys based on TV characters, or were last year’s “Hottest Toy”. And within a year, they’ve probably fallen out of favor with our kids. And sometimes, our kids just outgrow their toys. After all, preschoolers don’t need push toys, and school-aged children usually have long outgrown shape sorters.
If they’re still in playable condition, donate them.
Stuffed animals, washed of course, can go to your local police or hospital emergency room, as comfort toys for children who are victims of crime or accident.
Good condition books can be donated to thrift stores, local libraries or social clubs, community centres or “little libraries”. Little Libraries are community-based book stands in private yards, along public trails and sidewalks.
For all other toys, consider a homeless shelter, an emergency women’s shelter, or possibly a shelter for young unwed mothers. You may also want to check with your local doctor’s or dentist’s office, to see if they would like a good used toy for their waiting room.
Third, have the kids choose their favorites, and sell the rest.
Group your toys into “sets”. We all have toys that go together. The play dishes and tea party set go well with the baby dolls and stuffies. All the Lego is in one area, and other building toys might (supposed to) be in another.
Get your children to each pick their favorite set of toys.
Nobody overlaps, so if your son picks all the action figures and your daughter all the Lego, you’ll keep both sets, and both children can still play with them. When I did this with mine, I limited my children to picking just 5 sets each. (That’s still 25 “sets” of toys!!)
The rest, we boxed up and sold on Facebook, Kijiji and Craigslist.
Fourth, consider toy rotation.
To rotate your toys, divide your toys in half or thirds. Having them already sorted into “sets” helps with this. Pack away half or two-thirds of the toys, and leave out just the few remaining. Then in a few months, pack away the toys that were left out, and bring out some of the others that were in storage.
Rotating your toys allows you to see what really gets played with and what doesn’t. It also makes it easier to pull out the things that your kids have broken, outgrown or lost parts. You can declutter quicker and you won’t get the same build-up of toys every year.
When purchasing new toys, choose wisely.
Are they quality or easily broken?
If they are easily lost or broken, consider an alternative, or maybe wait until the child is older and can better care for their things.
Are they going to be outdated quickly?
Is that worth the money? Trendy toys can be super fun, but consider the cost. If I’m going to spend hundreds of dollars on a toy, I want the play value to be worth the sticker price.
And do they fit in with your current sets of toys?
I love getting things that easily slide in with what we already have. For example, I have no problem buying new dollhouse furniture sets to go with our existing dollhouses. And Lego sets are always a hit. When they’re over the novelty, the Lego pieces easily fit in to our existing Lego storage, and just expand a toy set with huge play value.
Still too many?
And if you still feel like your kids have too many toys, books and games, maybe purchase consumable activities. Craft kits give a ton of educational and play value, but a lot of the fun is in the creating, not the end result. So once they’re done creating, you can display it for a while, before quietly disposing of it. Or maybe pass it on to a grandparent or favorite relative who will treasure your child’s creativity.
Do your kids have too many toys? Are you getting rid of some before Christmas?
For more parenting tips: Keys to Parenting: Consistency Keeps Kids Happy