One thing we didn’t truly get until we had kids in our home was how the toys could take over so quickly. In an age of cheap plastic, where people show their love and excitement for your new arrival through consumerism, the toys can get out of control in no time. Are you seeking a calmer living space too? Try these tips for decluttering toys and managing the toy chaos.
Remember that it’s okay to let things go.
I used to feel such guilt passing on toys family and friends had gifted with love. But I finally overcome it by focusing on how much better we all feel in a streamlined space. We started by boxing up the extras and only taking out a few options at a time. With limited choices, our little ones focused more and it quickly became apparent which toys were the most engaging.
Remind yourself that kids learn through play.
Study after study shows that play is an important part of learning and development. It’s harder to learn in the midst of chaos. Often a few high-quality, carefully chosen toys are better than a room full. Our new rule? If a toy can’t be used in more than one way and doesn’t allow a child to use their imagination, it’s out. We also limit all options that require batteries.
Know your priorities when decluttering toys.
I read once that you should toss everything that isn’t lovely, useful and meaningful. There are a lot of basic items in our home that we’d be hard pressed to fit into all three categories, but it’s been a really helpful guide when narrowing down the extras. By focusing on how we want our home to feel, we have a much easier time with decluttering toys.
Buy toys throughout the year.
As a foster mom, I quickly became comfortable buying toys throughout the year. We were new parents when our first few little ones arrived, so we were starting from scratch building a toy collection. I focused on stocking up on items to meet their current developmental needs. Saving gifting for birthdays and holidays that the kids might not see in our home didn’t make a lot of sense. We supplemented what we had on hand with toys that met their current interests, whether it be small animals, baby dolls, or trucks. By intentionally meeting needs as we go, we can spend December focused on creating our own holiday traditions and cut down on the consumerism of the holidays.
Have a plan for toys they’ve outgrown.
When your little one ages out of something, pass it along, sell it, or pack it away for the next child. As a foster family, we go with pack it away for classics and favorites, but pass along items that don’t fit our vision for our home or are too bulky. We’ve gifted and received bouncers and play spaces through our local foster mom group and through Buy Nothing for our city. Anything harder to find for free can typically be repurchased used fairly easily. You’re definitely not the only one decluttering toys!
Choose toys that teach skills.
Make sure the toy selection you keep out is meant to teach a variety of skills. We benefit from early intervention services with our little ones and learn so much through watching how their team encourages gross motor and fine motor skills. I keep toys on hand to help developing motor skills, along with basic toys for stacking, sorting, building, pretend play, musical play, arts & crafts, reading, etc.
Since our family cut back on the toys we’ve found the kids in our care are much more engaged. They play longer and deeper with each toy and I have more time to get down on the ground and join in on the fun. I’m no longer cleaning up a toy tsunami every few hours and it feels amazing.
How do you manage the toys in your home? I’m always looking for new ideas to help create a calming environment.