Chances are, whether you have one child or ten, you feel like their stuff is taking over your home. Toys clutter your living space. The sounds of their electronic gadgets haunt your dreams. You used to be able to tell you had carpeting. The thought of cleaning the disaster zone called home requires more energy than you can muster. Instead, you push over a pile of Legos and crash on the couch. Take heart. There is hope for conquering the plastic kingdom of toys that is reigning over your home. Minimizing your children’s toys is possible. You can recapture the peace and calm your space used to have- before your critters’ stuff engulfed it! Today, I offer you three simple steps you can take to organize kids’ toys. Keep in mind that this process can take time, and give yourself some grace. You made need to work through this list multiple times before being satisfied with the results. Remember, progress is progress.
3 Steps to Organize Kids’ Toys & Reduce Toy Clutter:
1. Throw out broken toys or toys that are missing parts
The first step to organizing kids’ toys is also the easiest. Find the low hanging fruit. You might be surprised at the number of toys in your home that fit this category. Puzzles missing several pieces. Toys that are lacking critical components. Toys that no longer function as designed. These are all great targets. Also, consider tossing parts you have found if you don’t know what toy they belong to.
2. Eliminate items that have outlived their usefulness
Old toys: children have outgrown them, lost interest in them, yet they remain. These are the toys your kids toss aside to get to what they actually want to play with. These toys add clutter to your living space and need to go. If you plan on using them again in the future, store them elsewhere in the home. Be considerate of how many toys you keep- storing items to go through later can hamper your journey to a decluttered home.
Consider giving toys to a friend who has a child in the appropriate age range for them. Or, find a place where they can be loved by new children. Find a nearby donation center, such as the Salvation Army and donate toys there. If you are motivated, sell them online or at a resale shop and use the profits to do something fun with your kids. After all, experiences > stuff. It becomes easier to organize kids’ toys once you remove these items from the equation.
3. Sort through beloved items with your kids
This final step in the process to organize kids’ toys may take some time. Do not be disheartened if progress slows as kids make tough choices with how to process the remaining toys. Children naturally show resistance when removing things they connect with. A great decluttering strategy to try is the container principle.
For this strategy, give children a container or storage area in which their toys must fit. Requiring items to fit neatly in a certain space forces kids to weigh the value of each object. Over time, they begin to see the differences between items they enjoy occasionally, and items they adore and want around continually.
Organize Kids’ Toys in Common Spaces
Decide how much common space toys will take up. Have each child select items to keep in the space by placing them in his or her container, basket, or on a shelf. Do not let shared toys cause you to stumble. Children can collaborate to decide how to split them between baskets. Another solution would be to add another basket for shared items. There will be less to clean and keep organized by keeping only their favorite toys in the living space. At our house, we use a toy rotation system for keeping toy clutter at bay in our common spaces.
Organize Kids’ Toys in Bedrooms
Apply the same system for organizing kids’ toys in the common spaces to their bedrooms. Through this process, children realize that there are items in their possession that they don’t actually use or love. When they come across these items, have a donation bag ready. Aim to get these items out of the house sooner than later. Having them sit around tempts kids to change their minds.
If the process of sifting through belongings isn’t organic with your child, that’s okay. Be patient as you process items together. If a child cannot limit his or her bedroom items to one basket, try two. Or three. Or four. The point is to remove that which you can. Continue the process until the desired level of simplifying is reached.
Bedroom decluttering tips:
When we designed EJ’s new room, I opted to empty the room before decluttering. If organizing your child’s room in one fell swoop is your mission, that’s a great way to go about it. If you’re looking to revamp the design and function of your child’s room, be sure to check out the Montessori approach, which I would highly recommend.
Final Thoughts on Organizing Kids’ Toys & Helping Kids Declutter
With any process, organizing and decluttering toys takes time. It might take a day, a week, a month, or more. As kids work through the process, they will begin to see the benefits of reducing their belongings. They will notice how less stuff makes cleaning up easier. They will find it makes their space more enjoyable to be in. The better they feel, the more willing they become to let go of items they once resisted releasing.
Be intentional about discussing how much better the space feels after their hard work. Point out how much more quickly they can clean up their play area. Remind them of how messy the room used to be and how proud you are of their decisions to own less. Comment on how nice it is that they can find their favorite things without having to rummage through a plastic jungle.
Notice when they begin fighting less because they are not stressed by the clutter around them. Compliment them on their progress. Remind them of these benefits when you are out at the store and they ask for a new toy. Teach them to be mindful of the amount of stuff they collect and the priority they place on possessions.
Organizing kids’ toys and cutting through the clutter can be hard work, but hard work is rewarded. Less toy clutter means a more peaceful abode for your kids to relax and create in. Less toy clutter also means less stress for you, which makes every home happier.
Words to the wise….
- I recommend making your kids part of the process of simplifying, even if it takes longer. Modeling proper care of belongings is a great life lesson. Material goods have a cost far beyond the price paid for them in dollars. Helping children make this connection when they are young will benefit them all their lives.
- Sometimes we are unaware of the attachment our children have to their belongings. Some children are more sensitive to change or will need more time to process parting with their things. While this can complicate our timetable, respecting your child’s feelings is important. As adults, we couldn’t imagine someone coming into our space and discarding our possessions without our consent or participation. We must extend that same respect to our children and their stuff.
Cutting toy clutter teaches children to be satisfied with enough. It teaches them to live generously. Decluttering helps kids keep material belongings in their proper place. Let’s not raise a generation of children obsessed with stuff. Let’s raise a generation that is altruistic and compassionate. Keeping material possession in check is essential to that.
Looking for more decluttering advice? Check out our no-nonsense approach to decluttering!