Too Many Toys? How To Clear Without Disaster
With Birthdays, Christmases, souvenirs, and gifts, it’s easy for the number of toys in your home to quickly build up.
From time to time it’s good to bring all of them together in one place, and survey the collection: Get rid of any duplicates, broken toys, puzzles with missing pieces, or things that they’ve outgrown or cast out.
It may seem a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a battle; and the more you can work as a team with your kids, the better; so they understand and enjoy the clear out, rather than resenting it.
So what are the best ways to go about a trauma-free tidy?
Talk it out
However tempting it might be to sneak in at the dead of night with a bin bag, this could lead to meltdown when they discover their toys have been ‘kidnapped’, even if you’ve only taken things they no longer play with! Instead, talk to them beforehand about your plans, and make sure they understand why it’s an opportunity:
They’ll find it much easier to find their favourites.
They won’t have to spend as much time tidying.
There’ll be much more space to play.
The old toys can be given to someone who’ll really love, and take care of them better.
Get the kids involved
Who should go, how should everything be packed up, and where should the old toys be donated to? Making the whole clear-out part of an adventure, will make it much easier for them to be useful. Even if you’re masterminding the operation, it’s nice to make them feel like they are the real decision makers: Let them choose which toys they are ‘too grown up’ for; or give them a certain number they’re allowed to keep, and they can choose which ones.
Though you may want to sort through everything as quickly as possible; remember that they might be saying goodbye to some trusted old friends, so give them time to decide which toys to part with. The more thought put in, the less chance of regret there’ll be, so after the initial talk and bulk of sorting; give them a few days to make final decisions about trickier items.
Make it fun
Try to leave bin bags firmly outside the room, and instead try to give everything to a good home. Do you know any other children who might really love something particular? If not, donate them to charity shops, or local brick-a-brack sales; so your child can imagine them going on to live elsewhere.
You could make up adventures for the toys that are leaving; reasons for all the toys gathering together; or you could play shop and get them to ‘sell’ the toys they no longer want, to you (in exchange for a hug/kiss/snack.) This’ll help them feel involved with the process of their departure, and prevent it from feeling like a chore.
For the future
If you see something you think your child might regret losing, separate and hide it away for a while: If they miss it immediately, give it back. If they haven’t asked in few months, donate that toy as well. Remember, it is as important to give yourself rules as it is them!
The only exception is if there are any very specific items that seem too significant to part with, but that your children have outgrown (such as their very first toy); consider creating a ‘childhood box’ which can be kept in the attic and passed on to future generations!
Once finished, you should have 4 piles...
Toys to keep in the toy box
Toys for you to keep tucked away for a while
Stuff to donate
Broken/bedraggled items, which you will subtly dispose of.
If saying goodbye to things is emotional, take a moment to say thank you and goodbye before packing up the toys; or take a 'portrait photo' of the toy as a memento.
It may take the patience of a saint at times, but it will be more than worth it in the long run! After the initial sort, it is much easier to maintain levels with another quick look after each Birthday/Christmas; when the entrance of new toys can mean there are others now ready to be re-homed, to make space.
If all this inspires you to do a clear out of other things in your home, I highly recommend 'The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying' by Marie Kondo ... it really is life-changing!