Toys can quickly take over a house. They spill over into various rooms and can easily make a house feel cluttered. With every birthday, holiday, or trip to see the grandparents, the number of toys can grow and grow if you are not mindful of it. If you are tired of your house being overrun with toys, it is time to go through them and declutter. In this article, we will look at how to declutter toys in a practical way that will help your home feel calmer without getting rid of your child’s favorite toys.
Related: Download our free Declutter Checklist at the bottom
How to declutter kids’ toys step by step
Step 1: Consider Your House Space
The first step to decluttering toys actually starts before you touch a single toy in the toy collection. You first need to consider your house space and where the toys should be. For example, do you have a playroom in your house? Should all the toys be in the child’s room? Are you okay with a toy box being in the living room?
Is it okay for toys to be located in several rooms of your house? Just the living room? Only in the finished basement in a designated toy area? Your answers to these questions will help you develop an effective strategy for decluttering toys that will actually work for your house and your family values. If you decide that it is okay for toys to be in multiple locations of your house, choose one area to start with if the decluttering process seems overwhelming.
Step 2: Gather All the Toys
After determining how you will keep toys in your house, it is time to gather the toys. You may be overwhelmed to see how many toys your children have. Seeing too many toys should motivate you to carefully evaluate the toys to determine what to keep and what to get rid of. When kids have fewer toys, they are more likely to play with all of the items available to them. Additionally, having fewer toys will encourage imagination and independent play among children.
Depending on how much time you have, you may need to start by gathering the toys in a certain area of your house instead of tackling all the toys all over your house at one time. This will allow you to make progress without feeling overwhelmed. Another option is to declutter by category. Instead of tackling all the toys at once, consider decluttering the craft supplies, stuffed animals, puzzles, etc. at one time. This will keep you making progress and enjoying quick wins without too much stress.
Step 3: Analyze the Toys
After collecting all of the toys cluttering your house, it is time to sort them into categories. As you are analyzing the toys, sort them into piles for favorite toys of your children, broken toys, and unused toys. You may also want to categorize the toys by their type so that you can make better decisions regarding what to keep and what to downsize.
These specific toys are the ones that your children regularly play with. You likely want to keep these toys as they are regularly chosen and enjoyed. In addition, any toys with sentimental value might be worth holding on to as well.
Any toys that are broken should be placed in a separate pile to be trashed. There is no need to keep broken toys that are unsafe or unable to be played with. Similarly, if there are missing pieces, you can toss them as well.
If you do not remember the last time your child played with a toy, place the item aside. Return to this pile at the end of decluttering to see if any of these items are worth keeping, perhaps rotating into the toy box, or if they should be sold or given away for other kids to enjoy. It is normal for kids’ interests to change, so you may realize that a once favorite toy now just sits unused.
Analyze what toys your child has that are duplicated. For example, does your child have an overabundance of stuffed animals or baby dolls? If so, consider whether they actually need several of the same things. Does each item get played with or can they do with one less?
Step 4: Organize the Toys
There are a plethora of toy storage options available. After you have analyzed the toys and determined what to keep and what to get rid of, it is time to organize the toys. If you have space, consider using a storage shelf or toy box to keep all the toys in one location. If you do not have enough space for that, you can use a storage bin or basket to help contain the clutter.
Small bins will allow your children to easily see what they have in their toy collection. If you have older kids and younger kids, group the toys by age ranges so that children of different ages can find appropriate toys. This should help them find exactly what they want to play with without having to dump everything out of a basket to find the good toys. To ensure that items are being played with regularly, store similar items together for easy access.
For example, if you have a child who enjoys arts and crafts, keep all the art supplies and craft supplies together. Not only will this foster creativity, but it will also contain the mess that can come with searching for various items in different locations throughout the house. Certain toy collections can also be stored together for ease of use.
For example, if your kids enjoy dressing up baby dolls or playing house, you can keep all the doll accessories together. If your house is full of action figures, store them in the same storage bin for easy access to the fun. Have a designated shelf or cabinet for board games so that kids know where to go when they want to play a game with the whole family. Organize the toys in a way that will foster their use, not just their storage.
Step 5: Donate or Sell Unused Toys
After analyzing the toys and separating the items out, you will likely find a significant number of toys that you can get rid of. These toys are not broken. They are just no longer played with. However, another child can still enjoy them and use them.
Now you have to decide whether you want to donate the toys or sell them. If you are looking to make some extra cash, selling the decluttered toys can bring in some good money, especially if they are popular toys that your child just outgrew. You can choose to have a garage sale or list the toys for sale online. Based on how many items you decluttered, you may decide that it is not worth your time to try to sell the items.
Since the toys are still in decent condition, consider donating them to a thrift store or another family that you know. Another option is to establish a toy exchange with friends. If families with children who are a variety of ages all got together and brought a bag of unused toys, each family could leave with an assortment of new to them toys for their children to enjoy without spending any additional money.
Step 6: Rotate Toys
Decluttering kids’ toys will likely result in you finding toys that your kids have forgotten about. Consider rotating the toys. Not only will this cut down on the clutter, but it will also help your kids play with what they actually have.
With fewer toys, they will get more enjoyment out of what they have and enjoy longer playtime with the items. Determining how many toys you want to keep out is a personal decision. Consider the age of your children, their attention span, and the space you have in your house. Identify key toys that are regularly played with and those that are often passed over.
This will help you identify toys that your children absolutely love that should be kept in the rotation. Instead of buying a new toy, consider rotating out some toys so that when you rotate them back in, they will get more playtime. If after reincorporating them, your children still do not choose to play with them, feel free to get rid of them. Having too much stuff will just overwhelm your children. It is better to have a few things out than more toys that do not actually get played with.
Unwanted toys can be decluttered instead of just taking up space in the toy storage. To help you remember when you last rotated the toys, do it on a consistent schedule such as the first of every month or once a quarter.
Step 7: Develop a Strategy for New Toys
After you have paired down the collection and gotten rid of unwanted toys, you need to develop a strategy for how you will handle new toys coming into your house. If you have a small space or just want to avoid having your house overrun with toys, you may choose to implement a one in, one out policy.
With this idea, you will get rid of old toys when new toys come into the house. Consider how often you will opt to buy new toy collections. If you are regularly opting into new trends and buying toys with lots of accessories to buy, you will have a constant decluttering challenge. It is not just one new toy but a whole new collection of items. Once the newness wears off, you may be left with a large number of items to get rid of.
Step 8: Do Not Forget About the Outside Toys
When you think about decluttering toys, you probably think about the toys inside your house. However, do not forget about outside toys too. Are there items that your child no longer plays with? If so, rotate it out or consider getting rid of it. If there are items that are damaged or broken, trash them. The whole family can enjoy playing outside without a large number of toys. Keep it fun by having less outdoor clutter.
Tips for Decluttering toys
Consider Whether to Involve Your Children in the Process
When it comes to decluttering, you will have some tough decisions to make regarding what to keep and what to get rid of. There are pros and cons to involving your children in the process. On the one hand, your child may be overly sentimental and the thought of getting rid of anything is unbearable.
In this case, decluttering may take too long and cause too many breakdowns. You may be better off decluttering while your kids are at school. On the other hand, there is value in having your children assess what they actually play with and deciding what they want to get rid of.
This is also an opportunity to help children learn the value of sharing and passing toys on to other kids who may not have as much. Your children may choose to keep things that you would not, but if you have given them autonomy to be involved in the process, let them make some decisions. Working through the toys will probably take longer with your children involved, but there is much to gain through the process.
There are times that you know your child is likely to receive new toys. Before a birthday or Christmas, go through the toys and declutter what you have. By regularly going through your children’s toys, you can get ahead of the incoming influx of new toys and make space for new ones.
By implementing a system for regularly decluttering, you can stay up to date on what your kids are no longer playing with or have broken or outgrown. This way when your children open toys received as presents, they are not overwhelmed with what they have.
Set Toy Boundaries
To help you make the decision about what to keep and what to get rid of as you are decluttering toys, set some boundaries. By determining how many items in a certain category you will keep or how much space you are willing to allow toys to take up in your house, you can work through the decluttering process easier.
For example, maybe you have designated one room as a playroom in your house. However, does that mean that every square inch of the room should be filled to the brim with toys? What if instead, you allocated a certain shelving unit or set of baskets to be used for toys? If you do not have a playroom in your house, it is important to have a realistic boundary around how much space toys can take up.
If you are not mindful, toys can quickly overrun your house. Consider limiting the toys by category to allow for an assortment of play options without all the chaos. For example, you may decide that the toy cars must fit in one plastic box or the puzzles must fit on one shelf. With a limit in mind, you can be more discerning on what to keep and what to get rid of.
Ask for Non-Toy Gifts
If you are tired of a carful of toys being gifted to your children every birthday or holiday, consider asking for experience gifts instead. This will allow your child or family to enjoy a fun experience without adding clutter to your home. An example of an experience gift would be something like a trip to the zoo, karate lessons, or a membership to a local children’s museum.
Another non-toy option is to ask for consumable gifts. This is something that is gifted and used up, therefore no longer having to be stored. Craft supplies would be a good example of this type of gift. Whether you ask for an experience gift, a consumable gift, or even a donation to your child’s education fund, there are numerous gift options that will not require you to store the toys long-term in your house.
Make Use of Storage Options
There is no shortage of toy storage options available. Consider your house and the space that is available before buying one (or more!) of these options. Remember that the goal is to keep things tidy yet accessible for your children. At the end of the day, owning less is better than trying to keep up with the never-ending clutter of toys. Not only will you feel better about the stuff you see, but it will also foster imaginative play for your children.
If you do not mind seeing the toys, using a toy basket can provide an efficient storage option. This can also be a pretty accessory to a room if you are using it as toy storage in a room that is multipurpose such as your living room.
If you have more room, you can use a toy shelf to hold your children’s toys. These are great options because you can use different sized bins. This will allow you to sort the items and more quickly find what you are looking for. Sorting by the type of toy will also help you see when a certain category of toy is getting out of hand and it is time to declutter. Likewise, you can also see categories of toys that are regularly getting picked over. In this case, it may be time to rotate the toys out of use for a while or consider decluttering them altogether.
If you prefer not to see the toys, a toy box may be a better option for you. You can get a wooden toy box with a bench on top, allowing for multiple uses. Alternatively, you can choose a collapsible option that is easier to move around your house. While storing toys out of sight can reduce the cluttered look in your home, be sure to set up a schedule to regularly go through the toys. It is all too easy for things to be “out of sight, out of mind.” Declutter kids toys regularly to be sure that what you have is actually getting played with in your family.
Use the Vertical Space
When it comes to organizing and storing toys, the vertical space in a room is often overlooked. If your child has a lot of stuffed animals or dolls, consider adding a stuffed animal hammock to the corner of a bedroom or closet wall. This is a great way to keep toys off the floor and in a contained space. Just be sure your child can safely reach the toys when they want to get them down to play with. If space is at a premium in your house, opt to use over-the-door storage to help keep the toys tidy. This will allow for toys to be off the floor without using a large amount of floor space for a toy box or toy shelf.
Decluttering Toys FAQ
How do I reduce the number of toys?
To reduce the number of toys, get rid of anything that is not regularly played with or that is broken. Consider keeping just your children’s favorite toys and develop a rotation system for other toys to cycle them into use. Not only will this help the toys get more playtime but it will also cut down on the toys that can clutter your house.
How often should you declutter kids’ toys?
Aim to declutter kids’ toys every quarter or more often for baby toys that your child may quickly outgrow. By evaluating the toys every few months, you can keep the toy clutter from getting out of control and ensure that you just have out what your kids actually play with.
How do I declutter my kids’ stuff?
Analyze the toys to determine what your kids actually play with, what gets picked over, and what is broken or an item that the children have outgrown. Anything that is broken or unused can be decluttered.
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