For many families with children, toys just keep piling up year after year, taking up more space. What’s worse, kids don’t even necessarily play with all their toys. As children grow up, most toys fall by the proverbial wayside.
Messy spaces cause distraction and stress. When your kids are playing with their toys, shouldn’t they be able to feel calm and focused? Clear out the clutter of old toys, and you’ll increase their happiness.
While we’re focusing on getting rid of your child’s old, no-longer-used toys, you can adapt this advice to your own life as well if you still have a ton of toys left from your own childhood.
Christmas and Birthdays
Just before gift giving holidays and birthdays, get rid of old toys to make way for new ones. The first time you do this, you’ll probably end up getting rid of a lot of old toys, but in subsequent years, you’ll only need to get rid of a few really old toys, which will be replaced with new gifts. This will help keep your kids’ rooms, and your home, free of toy clutter, while ensuring they have toys they’ll really enjoy.
That Initial Decluttering Sweep
First comes this challenge: deciding how much to involve your children in the process of letting go of excess toys. Up to about age four or five, you should simply do this for your child, and it’s best to do it when they’re not at home.
If your child is over five, then get them involved. It will take longer, and will probably involve arguments. Be patient and listen to your child’s memories and concerns about each toy. Help them figure out what they really want to keep, and what they can let go of.
Sort their toys into two initial sections or piles. One will be toys to keep, the other, toys to get rid of. We’ll cover toys to keep in more detail momentarily.
Toys to get rid of should include broken items, which you can throw out. It should also include items in good condition that your child no longer plays with. You can donate many in the latter group to charities or thrift stores, or pass them down to the children of friends. If you plan to do this with any stuffed animals, run them through a wash on gentle cycle, and a gentle dry cycle, first, to ensure they’re clean.
Considerations for What to Keep
There are two categories for what to keep: things that you child currently plays with, and things with heavy sentimental value. The pitfall here is that your child may attach sentimental value to everything, so you’ll need to help them figure out what which items are most important.
That particular stuffed animal they got from their grandparents when they were three years old will probably hold more weight than the stuffed animal they won at a carnival, for example. Of course, this is totally subjective, so it will take some thinking and judgement on the part of you and your kids.
Make a rule about how many sentimental items to keep. One toy chest or one shelf of such items should be sufficient.
Things your child no longer plays with that don’t have very heavy sentimental value can go.
Stealth Letting Go
While it’s good to get your kids used to letting things go they no longer need, it can be tough for them if they have to get rid of a lot of things at once. If there are items that you know your children won’t miss, it’s fine to get rid of some of them when your kids aren’t around. These would include things at the back of their closets, stuff shoved in corners in other parts of the house, and so on. Sort them and give them away and your kids will be none the wiser.
The memories associated with various sentimental toys are more valuable than the toys themselves. Regularly take pictures of your kids playing with their toys, or when they get them as gifts. That way, when you end up giving them away, you and your children can still relive the special moments by looking through the photos.
Letting go of your kids’ old toys is going to be a challenge, but we hope that the suggestions we provided make it easier.