Tonight we finally got around to decluttering the kids’ toys. I knew we had a lot of them since I am always picking something or other up off the floor, but to see the sheer amount all in one place was overwhelming, to say in the least. It had gotten to the point where it was actually causing me anxiety. Everywhere I looked, there was a toy. There was Minnie Mouse’s shoes, or Mr. Potato Head’s Hat (his eye are still MIA), or a car or a stuffed animal. None of these toys get played with enough. It is overwhelming for the kids too.
So tonight, given that our daughter is at a sleepover and not present to witness such sacrilege, we can organize and donate some of these unused toys. Q was still present for this, but as he is turning one in a few days, he did not complain too much. He had fun climbing the mountain of toys in the living room and pretended to eat off a toy plate with a toy spoon (I think he actually thought there was supposed to be food on there, as he is a big foodie already).
Step 1: Gather all kids’ toys
First, you want to gather all the toys you have. We collected all the toys from both the kids’ rooms, from under couches and from all over the floors, and dumped them all in the middle of our living room. It was truly astonishing how many we had. We didn’t buy that many ourselves, a lot were gifts that the kids were given or small things we picked up from the dollar store.
They all added up to cause this mountain of things that I constantly had to clean, organize and put away. Talk about a waste of time! So, you may be surprised to see how many toys are actually in your house. Also, make sure you have a couple of hours when you start doing this.
Step 2: Sort – Garbage, Donate, Keep
Next, you want to make three piles: one for toys to keep, one for toys to donate, and one for toys too used/broken to be donated aka garbage pile. You may have a maybe pile, where you can put toys you’re not sure about for the time being, and when you get to the end figure out what pile to put those in.
We started to slowly work our way through the toys. We had a bag for garbage, a box for donations, and bins to organize the toys we kept. Soon we needed another box for donations.
Which toys to keep
You will want to keep toys your kids actually enjoy playing with, educational toys, anything they play with outside (balls) and toys that may have sentimental value. If you are not sure about the item at the end of this decluttering session, you can still keep it in a box for a while longer, and see if you end up needing it. For me it was hard to make some decisions when it came to letting go. I tend to remember who gave us the item or where it came from, or what story is associated with it.
I’m glad my husband was there to help me, as he was less attached to the toys. In the end though, I wanted to get rid of the things we didn’t use and there was no point in keeping something just because it was a gift. I appreciate the fact that someone bought it for us very much, but now I am happy that we can donate it for another child to play with. And I’m sure that person didn’t expect us to keep the gift forever 🙂 .
Step 3: Organize what’s left
Once you have all the toys you want to keep, you can start organizing them in bins or whatever storage you have for them. We kept toys that meant something to the kids (favourite stuffies from our childhood), toys that the kids actually play with, and toys that are educational. Now we can actually fit them in the organizing bins we have in the kids’ rooms. I don’t have to hide extra toys in T’s closet, hoping she doesn’t find them and spread them out everywhere. There aren’t a bunch of stuffed animals on her bed, taking up all the room. Now they are stored in a blue hamper and only a couple big ones and her Daddy Cow are on her bed (she loves cows). As you can see below, there are still lots of toys left. I’m planning on observing what T play with mostly, and perhaps donating a few more. (There are a couple of bins missing because they are full of her books, which I’m still organizing.)
Simplifying our lives
Lately, I’ve come to really value simplicity. Having just a few, functional things is more appealing than having many. In today’s society, having more seems to be associated with success. Bigger house, fancier car, more clothes, more kitchen gadgets, more toys. When you stop to think about it, do you really need all these things? Is there something you could live without? Our planet is not going to be able to sustain us at this rate. We need to be mindful in our ways of life. This is what I hope to teach my children. That more is not always better. More does not make you happier. It is often the simple things in life that bring the most joy. My baby smiling at me, taking his first steps. My daughter gently hugging her brother. My husband making me breakfast. These are the things that bring me joy and add value to my life.
I’m constantly working to declutter more things and simplify as much as I can. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but this is an ongoing process. I will keep adding more tips as I come across them, so check back here soon!