Having kids is a joy beyond any experience, but it can also be overwhelming at times, especially when it comes to decluttering their toys.
While toys are fun and educational for kids, they tend to make their way into every single nook and cranny of your home, creating a mess and leaving you feeling like you’re fighting a never-ending battle.
Kids accumulate a lot of toys over the years, as their brains develop and their personalities change, but when the toys are drowning in a sea of clutter, this can lead to frustration, stress and even anxiety.
And I’m not just talking about for parents! Kids have all these feelings too.
Reducing the amount of toy clutter in the home makes for a more comfortable environment and a more enjoyable experience for children.
And fortunately, there are several steps you can take to encourage your kids to declutter toys and keep their playrooms neat and tidy – without having to sacrifice any fun!
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- What are the benefits of a clutter-free play area?
- Important: Before you declutter toys
- How to declutter kids' toys
What are the benefits of a clutter-free play area?
There are many benefits to decluttering kids’ toys, and most of these actually benefit the children more than the adults. Here are a few of the biggest benefits:
- Reduces stress: You may not think your little one could get stressed or anxious but it happens to everyone, no matter what age. Having too many choices or an incredibly messy environment can be overwhelming and create more stress and anxiety than necessary.
- Reduces mess: It’s no secret that kids make a mess when playing, but having too many toys in one place makes it even harder to manage. With fewer toys, there’s less mess to clean up afterwards.
- Saves money: Kids can easily become bored with their toys over time, but with less toys they’ll be more likely to play with each one instead of constantly asking for new ones. This encourages less waste and saves money in the long run.
- Increases safety: Let’s face it, little people can be clumsy! And having too much stuff strewn about the floor means more opportunities for kids to fall or injure themselves. Read more here about the most common hazards in play areas are.
- Increases independence: When you have a decluttered toy room, it’ll be easier to find your child’s favourite toys and it will encourage them to take responsibility of their belongings. This is especially beneficial to older kids as they grow into teenage years.
- Promotes positive habits: The habits your children learn at a young age are those they carry with them into adulthood. So by teaching children to pick up after themselves, they’ll naturally develop a sense of responsibility and respect for their toys and belongings.
- Teaches children about donation: Decluttering also provides an excellent teaching opportunity to talk to your children about donating their outgrown items to children who really need them. I’ll never forget the Christmas morning my little nephew came into the kitchen crying because he thought some kids might not have received great presents from Santa! He choose some of his old toy sets to donate to children less fortunate right away.
Important: Before you declutter toys
Before you head into your kid’s play area with a box marked ‘throw out’, stop – there are a few important things to note.
Firstly, don’t do it alone. Of course, you may have paid for these toys, but these are still your kid’s responsibility. Get them involved in the decluttering process – this is a great way to teach some valuable lessons on the importance of being organised and caring for our belongings.
Even young children can get involved – whether they know exactly what’s going on or not, they can still help with simple tasks such as putting things in their place or into donation boxes.
Be sure to communicate with your children through the entire process. Explain why you’re decluttering and how everyone has their part to play in keeping the home clutter free. Be sure to help them to understand that decluttering their old toys isn’t a punishment for anything, and that everyone in the family has to do it with their ‘toys’ too.
Finally, make sure to choose the right items to donate or get rid of. There’s no point donating something with missing parts or not of any use to someone else. Instead, recycle or upcycle these items. There’s also no point in keeping something that your child never plays with. A great way to make decisions is to ask your child if this toy has seen some love in the past 6 months. If not, it’s probably a good idea to let it go.
How to declutter kids’ toys
Step 1: Assess the current toy situation
Before you get right into it, assess the current situation.
We’ve all been there – the toy box overflowing with dolls, action figures and puzzles that have long since lost their last piece. And if you haven’t been decluttering toys on a regular basis until now, you may have a big job on your hands.
Bur the first step is to take a deep breath and look around the room. Mentally take note of the types and amount of toys in the room. This will help you to determine the best approach for tackling the clutter.
Step 2: Sort through the clutter
Once you have a good idea of what’s in front of you, it’s time to start sorting to decipher what’s to stay and what’s to go.
Get your child to pull out any toys which are broken or have missing pieces first. Explain to them that parts of these toys may have been lost and they can’t be played with anymore. Place these in a box marked recycle or rubbish (depending on whether they can be salvaged by someone else).
Next, ask your child to pick out any toys which are no longer age appropriate for them. This could include anything from baby rattles or toddler push-alongs to board games and jigsaws. Explain that it’s time to pass these items on to a younger family member, cousin, friend or charity.
These two categories will likely be the easiest to declutter. The next stage is to ask your child to donate any unused toys.
At this stage, the child often becomes attached to their items and will be reluctant to part with them. Explain that there are many children who don’t have the opportunity to play with toys, so this could make a real difference in their life.
If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll donate their drum kit or another noisy toy!
Step 3: Organise & store
Once you’ve established the broken toys and the toys your child is happy to let go of, it’s time to organise and store what is left. This will help them find the things they want to play with quickly and easily.
Organising the toy collection by types of toys or themes can be a great way of doing this, such as grouping stuffed animals, Lego and board games into their own storage container.
You could turn the process into a game by getting your child involved in sorting the toys into categories and deciding where they should be stored. Doing this together helps them understand why it’s important to keep their toys tidy.
To make it less overwhelming, you can also sort children’s toys into smaller containers that your child can easily access. If space is an issue, storage boxes on shelves or in cupboards could be a good option for keeping the items organised and out of sight when not in use.
Step 4: Donate & dispose of decluttered toys
It’s very important to teach your child that decluttering their toys doesn’t mean all of them need to be thrown away. Instead, donate some of the gently used items. Bring your kid to the shelter or thrift stores so they can see where it’s going.
Alternatively, you could sell some of the items which are in good condition at a garage sale or on Facebook marketplace and share the proceeds with your child as an incentive to declutter.
Doing this right after the decluttering session reduces the chances of toys mysteriously finding their back into the playroom!
Step 5: Maintain a clutter free toy collection
So now that your play area has been decluttered of toys, it’s the perfect time to put a plan in place to ensure it doesn’t go back to the same crazy mess again.
The next steps should involve creating some simple rules for your kids to follow, such as picking up and putting away toys after each use. You can also encourage them to keep their play area tidy and free of clutter by limiting the number of toys they have at one time.
Come to an agreement that if any new toys come into the house, they should choose one of their existing toys to donate to charity, to a child who doesn’t have as many toys.
And don’t forget to periodically rotate toys. When your kid finds a favourite toy again after some time, they’ll experience the same excitement as if it was new! Toy rotation can help reduce boredom and keep them engaged with their playthings, rather than having to buy a new toy.
Step 6: Reward time
Decluttering doesn’t have to be a difficult or sad task for your kids. Be sure to make it fun throughout the process and end it on a high with a reward!
My favourite reward system is to get a treat on the way home from the donation centre – ice-cream, time in the park, or even a movie in the cinema. You could also reward them with some screen time at the end of the day, or to have friends over to play in the newly decluttered space.
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Conclusion: Best Way to Declutter Toys
As I’m sure you’ve experienced, decluttering toys can be one heck of a difficult process for both parents and children.
While the process may not be quick or without a few stumbles along the way, the end result will be worth it. You’ll be able to create an environment where both children and grown-ups can breathe freely, play with intention, and appreciate the toys that truly matter.