It seems like the second Halloween is over, the Christmas decorations start popping up everywhere. While this a joyous and exciting time for a lot of people, it’s also one that can be filled with anxiety and dread. When the house seems like it’s already overflowing, the last thing to be excited about is more stuff.
Part of this problem for me comes from working retail for many years. There’s something about seeing the chaos and consumerism first hand that takes the magic out of the whole experience. While I’ve embraced my grinch tendencies when it comes to the holidays, I’ve also learned to prioritize purchases. I don’t go out and participate in the madness of Black Friday because I’ve spent time on the other side of that counter. You can’t unsee that and, quite frankly, I’m grateful I’ve witnessed the chaos firsthand. I’ve also seen the reality of those great deals and doorbusters for what they almost always are… cheap junk. I’m all too happy to stay home and relax!
How Did We End Up With So Many Toys?
So with the holidays and the shopping season kicking off in a big way, what are we suppose to do with all of the stuff we already have? This is where the efforts of simplifying throughout the year really get a chance to shine. I’ve gone through most of the house at this point, some areas better than others, and have decluttered. I’m not done by any means but there is a noticeable dent in the amount of stuff we have remaining. There’s a little more space to put things away. A little more room in closets and drawers. Even a little more order to the books and toys. While some would see that as room to add more stuff, I’m not ready to let go of that hard-earned white space!
While there are minimalist gift guides all over the internet that suggest experiences over things, the holidays are already here. Most people are wrapping up their holiday shopping if they’re not already done. So at this point, we’re going to be accepting some stuff into our lives whether we like it or not. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing or something to dread. Knowing that we’re going to need to make room for some extra stuff is a great incentive to go through and declutter some more. The kid’s toys make a great starting point.
With new toys on the horizon, this is a chance to remove toys that aren’t used anymore or have worn out. Even if it doesn’t seem like the toy situation is that bad, there’s probably more hiding in plain sight than it seems. Little toys (I’m looking at you blind bags, random prizes, and kid’s meals toys) in particular are terrible about this. All of these little things don’t seem to take up much space but somehow end up everywhere. We ended up having two full toy bins full of random toys, figures, necklaces, rings, rocks, etc. They’re now two empty bins!
Guidelines – Keep, Donate, Toss
I’ve turned decluttering into a game over the years with a decent amount of success. Never underestimate your child’s ability to declutter but always accept that what they want to keep and let go of may be very different from what you would keep and let go of. My daughter loves collecting rocks and other little things but will get rid of a nice playset without a second thought. She’d also be happy to donate a toy figure but would want to keep a shipping box. Go figure, right?
She’s also starting to understand the idea that if she donates a toy she doesn’t use, someone else will be able to enjoy it instead. With the holidays around the corner, I also reminded her that the less she gets rid of, the less she’s going to be getting for Christmas. If there’s no room for new things there are no new things. Space for toys is finite.
So we pulled out every toy bin she has in her closet and went through everything. Each time I asked if she wanted to keep or donate an item. For some things, especially the things she’s outgrown, I suggested a friend that may really enjoy that toy. Each time though, I made it her decision. I had to remind her that she needed to make room for new toys and that others could appreciate the toys she wasn’t playing with, but we made it through. Kids are a lot less attached to stuff than we give them credit for and can make some surprising choices.
After we decided what to keep, we put everything away and got it all organized, much to my delight. For the donation items, I snapped some pictures of things to send to friends, added some to the donation box, and others to the trash. Deciding what to donate or toss was my decision, not my daughter’s. Her’s was to decide to keep or let go of the item, not the logistics of what to do with everything after.
Tips For Decluttering Toys with Kids
Keep the choices simple. My daughter’s only options for each toy were to keep or donate. She either wanted to keep something around or was ok letting it go. I went through the donation pile and sorted out what could go to friends, be sold, be donated, or was trash. Sorting through that much would be too many options for a 6-year-old. Keep it simple and the whole discarding process will go a lot smoother.
Revisit items. If there were things that were maybes or toys they don’t play with but want to keep, make a plan. Bring them into the rotation more so they have a chance to be played with more. If they don’t get played with, the child may realize that they don’t actually need that toy. The other option, depending on your child and toy, is to put it away and see if they ask for it. This can sometimes backfire but most of the time that toy will be completely forgotten.
Respect their choices. I have no idea why my daughter insists on keeping random pieces of confetti or fake gems she’s found but she loves them. Why doesn’t she love that $20 playset that I think is the coolest thing ever? I have no idea. One was an easy choice to add to the donate pile, the other involved tears and a spot to store shiny things. Pick your battles but accept what they want to keep if they’re still adding to that donate pile.
Start Your Toy Decluttering!
Set up that toy decluttering day (or weekend) and find some space before the holidays! An added bonus is being able to sell extra toys for holiday funds. Or donating toys to help out those who could really benefit from some used presents. Everyone wins and it’s well worth taking the time to sort the clutter out before the holiday madness truly hits.