5 Steps for Having a Toys Clear-Out With The Kids

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is anybody else heading towards the end of January and wondering where all this clutter came from?

They don’t call it a spring clean for nothing! December is often a time of accumulating things: toys, gifts, party clothes, chocolate stashes and maybe a few extra pounds, too.

That’s fine - make the most of it! If you are now feeling like it’s time to say goodbye to the things that you are no longer using, then that’s one thing. But the things that the kids are no longer using? That becomes a whole new minefield. Whilst it might be tempting to sneak in during school or nursery time with a binbag and just get rid of things, this is really a terrible idea.

If anything, this might reinforce an attachment to ‘things’ no longer used, if your child realises something is missing and asks about it. It might seem scary, but this is a great opportunity for you all to take stock of what you find most important, and what is now a fond part of your past.

Everyone parents differently so these are just a few tips for organising, with creative ways of pitching the idea to the kids, inbetween. You may only agree with a few of them, but even if this just looks like a list of how you WOULDN’T do things … it can still make for a useful strategy template for your own kid-friendly decluttering!

1.      Start with your mindset

Are you starting this task because you are just sick of seeing unused toys everywhere and you’re trying to get rid of clutter?

Some of that energy will be useful, but you really want to try and start with a more positive attitude towards the whole experience, if at all possible. The goal here is not just to make a tidier space, but also to teach the kids why it is an important and often nourishing thing to do.

Sometimes, kids can’t be reasoned with. We know that. But if you’re beginning in a positive place, it’ll be far easier to cope with any tantrums when those broken but beloved pieces are making their way into a bin bag …

First of all - try coming at the problem from a more minimalist mindset. If less is more, then what will your kids gain in time by reflecting on which toys they actually love?

This sounds a little wooly, but think of it this way:

Less toys means:

  • More space for playing
  • Less time looking for things - everything has a place
  • More time to enjoy the toys you really love

Now, we aren’t suggesting that you whip this list out for your toddler - this is just a really quick step to help you facilitate a change in attitude towards toys and clutter in your home.

2. Budget Space (and Money!)

No one wants to suggest that you ‘restrict’ your kids, but sometimes a framework makes it so much easier to explain a concept.

What we mean by this, is giving your kids spaces to fill with whatever they want, but encouraging them to respect the space itself. Let’s say, the toybox is getting so full that it won’t close. Could you use this as a way of explaining that space is not a limitless concept, and they are more than welcome to save up for new toys, or ask for them for their birthdays, but they need to make some space in the toybox, too?

By teaching the kids to ‘budget’ with the space they have, it may become a little easier.

Don’t be afraid to also set a toy budget for yourself at busy times such as birthdays or Christmas.

3. Involve the Kids in The Process

First up, no bin bags.

Anyone would get emotional at seeing their treasures getting dropped into bin bags!

Start by explaining a little about charity shops, recycling, or whatever is relevant for the process you’re trying to initiate. Tell the story behind decluttering and make it clear that this is not supposed to be a punishment. It’s supposed to be a way of understanding for yourself what is important/enjoyable and what isn’t.

Create three piles:

  • Both of you agree that it’s time to pass this item on
  • Either you or the child wants to keep it, the other disagrees
  • Definitely staying

Make the piles up before you start to do anything.

Make an agreement that the pile in the middle, of uncertain things, is not going to leave the house, but it’s not going to stay in the room either. Pop it away somewhere out of sight, and mark a date on the calendar in 4-6 weeks time to check in with these items and see if you still feel the same.

Everything else, can either be tidied away or be packaged up to take to the charity shop.

If the first time you do this, you end up not getting rid of much, or having a lot of items in the ‘middle’ pile, that’s okay!

4. Make it Fun
Most things can be made into a game with a little bit of creativity!

If you’ve got a bit of monopoly money, then maybe you could prepare for the big giveaway by staging an imaginary car boot sale. Or - if the kids are old enough, do a real one!

Nothing reduces the sting of realising that you really don’t use lego anymore, like getting a few quid for it to add to the piggy bank.

Otherwise, for older kids, just try to make it feel like less of a punishment, if possible!

Get the music on, and plan something fun for later, even if it’s just pizza and movie night as a reward.

Some people love organising, others don’t, but everyone can learn the way that they like to do it best!

5. Do it often, but not too often!

The ideas in this post have been aimed at those prepping to undertake a big organising job.

The only way to work out if you’ve done it right?

If the clutter stays away.

Now - in an ideal world, of course, everything has a place to live, and we get rid of things before getting new things to take up that place.

We don’t live in that world, but it is pleasant to imagine it exists sometimes, right?

If, three months later, the clutter is creeping back, then you know where to start. Make sure that you’ve been adopting the one item in, one or two items out policy with the toys, and be kind to yourself if it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

There is no perfect number of toys for your house, your kids or your family. As a busy parent, you have enough to juggle, so use these tips where they are helpful, and keep it all in perspective!

As the saying goes: either I am tidy or the house is.

There’s no shame in putting yourself first every so often, promise. Let’s make this mission kid-friendly, but also parent-friendly, too.

Bio: Sara is a writer for Storage Vault, a self-storage company with facilities around Glasgow, Scotland. We love helping and inspiring others to get organised, productive and make the most of their precious space.

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