Get Rid of Toy Clutter

It’s amazing to me how quickly my house gets over run with toys! There are days when I swear I will pick up a room and toy clutter will be everywhere the next time I come in that room. The annoying part is that the toy clutter usually isn’t even made up of my kids’ favorite toys. It will be a concoction of toy kitchen food, checkers pieces, McDonald’s toys, lost legos and other random trinkets that were shoved in a bag, carried around for a bit, forgotten about and then dumped out by the baby. It’s these days when I realize that we just need fewer toys.

Now, I have 3 children. The baby (I guess he’s technically a toddler but I’m not ready to call him that yet) does have some baby toys, but since he prefers to throw the toys aside and play with non-toy items any, we don’t keep a ton of baby toys. He’s not the problem. My daughter is 6 (going on 13) and is really crafty and prefers to spend her time either drawing, painting, baking, inventing something or making mud pies outside. Now don’t get me wrong, she definitely leaves her fair share of messes, but it typically is not a toy mess. Now, my 4 year old on the other hand…alarm bells are sounding. This boy is a toy clutter tornado.

He collects so many random trinket things it’s unbelievable. I don’t even know where he gets some of it from! (Probably his Gigi’s house.) Since he is the middle child, he obtains a lot of his own things, plus his sister sticks all of the things she no longer wants in his room, and he also takes interesting things from little brother’s room. A trifecta of toy clutter! He also has the smallest bedroom…so yeah.

Trying to organize toy clutter

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There have been so many times that I have come up with a brand new organization system that will finally solve the toy clutter conundrum. I completely clean out and organize all of the toy boxes and bins, get rid of the junk and buy new cubby cube organizers and containers. I give everything a home. Every toy has a place. Ahhh, finally.

Then a busy week or two goes by and I don’t spend the time to help him clean his room, I just have him do it on his own. I knew it would be easy right, I mean I just organized it all and it all has a spot. I would forget every time though to factor in that HE’S 4! His version of clean and my version of clean are definitely two very different things.

One day it dawned me that organizing clutter isn’t really cleaning. It’s just moving the same stuff around to a different spot until it comes back to the place where it annoyed me in the first place. I had organized his toy clutter for the last time. I texted my mom “I AM GETTING RID OF THE TOYS. EVERYTHING MUST GO.” She told me I was being mean…I didn’t care! I didn’t think it would go over with my son very well, but I knew somehow I was downsizing big time.

The pep-talk

I really thought that it would be hard for my kids to give up some of their things for the sake of our sanity. I knew they needed to be included in this process, so I spent a lot of time coming up with strategies to get them to see that it will be GOOD to get rid of things that we no longer use or need.

I talked to my kids very positively about downsizing our toys. For a few days in a row, we talked about things like how it’s okay to keep things that we use a lot, and that its okay to keep things that have special meaning to us. We also discussed that when we have too many things that we don’t use, it’s harder to clean our room and we don’t have any room for new fun things. But I have to say, the thing that sold them on the idea was that I told them we would have a garage sale and use that money to go buy a trampoline.

My son actually had an easier time parting with his toys that I thought he would. Looking back at the whole situation, I actually think that I was trying to convince MYSELF that it’s okay to get rid of toys! How crazy is that?! I, the adult, was the one who needed to be reassured that getting rid of toys is okay.

Getting rid of the toys

I knew which things were his favorite and so did he. When we went though all of his big trucks, we looked at similar ones and he picked his favorite. Then we decided that the rest we could let another child have so that the toy would get played with more. He was all for it! The same went with his stuffed animals, his trains, his books, and all of the random toys that were in his toy box. Bulky toys, chinsy toys, dinosaurs, you name it. We went through it all piece by piece.

I had a (secret) garbage bag that I used to throw out all cheap/random McDonald’s toys or little things that didn’t belong to anything and he wasn’t attached to. Everything else that we decided to get rid of went into the garage sale pile.

I went in there with the no attachment policy. We didn’t keep things because he had just gotten them, or because so-and-so gave it to him. Some of the matchbox cars he decided to keep were way dingier than some of the ones he let go of, but they were his favorites and that’s what mattered. We didn’t keep multiples of things unless they were both played with a lot (like his grabbers.)

I also didn’t keep things because I “knew I would want them for the baby later on.” Do you know how many birthdays, Christmas’s, Easter’s, and random toy-getting events there are? Tons. I knew that if there was something I wanted for the baby, he would get it as a gift from somebody.

WE GOT RID OF HALF OF HIS TOYS!!! Say what? Yes, that’s right. So, technically when I said “everything must go” I didn’t actually get rid of everything. Important: We got rid of the toy box! “WHAT? WHERE DID YOU PUT THE TOYS?” is what you’re probably thinking… Let me tell you. I removed all of the toy storage bins from his cubby organizer and just used it as shelves. Almost every toy that was in those bins and the toy box were clutter toys that he didn’t particularly like all that much, we had just collected them over the years and there they were.

The toys that stayed

Let me tell you, the look on his face as he looked around his “new room” was priceless. He was so happy! Do you know why he was happy? Everything in his room was his favorite! How cool is that? Imagine for a minute that everything you own is your favorite and perfectly displayed in the open for you to grab and not ever forget about.

In his cubby, we kept:

  • 2 costumes that he likes to wear: Catboy and The Grinch.
  • a small basket of about 10 matchbox cars (his favorite ones)
  • a magnifying glass
  • an hour glass type toy (one of his all-time favorite things…I know I don’t get it either)
  • a truck with a wagon that was my brother’s favorite childhood toy
  • about 20 books
  • a wooden snake
  • binoculars
  • a wooden school bus
  • a roaring dinosaur

We kept his toy kitchen because he plays with it all of the time and “makes food.”  He also frequently builds “rails” with his wooden train set. We kept his legos, tinker toys, lincoln logs, marble runs and waffle blocks, but they are kept at the top of his closet and he is allowed to have 1 building set out at a time.

That’s it! What was really surprising to me was that he chose to let go of modern toys like Paw Patrol sets and PJ Mask toys, and instead keep some of the more “old fashion” toys. (It definitely made me think twice about future gift choices for my kids as well as other children.)

It is so much easier for him to keep his room clean now. He feels good about himself for that, and he loves being in his simple and organized room. I will tell you that he has kept it clean most of the summer all by himself. It is time for me to go through and de-junk again as he has picked up a lot of things throughout the summer, but it will be super easy since there are no black-hole toy bins to go through!

So go ahead, Momma! It is okay to get rid of the toys. Your kids will be happier in a bedroom with only their favorite things and no toy clutter.

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