The Great Toy Toss


One of my goals during the summer holidays was to go through all the toys with my two children and hopefully remove some of the ones we don’t use any more. Our house isn’t terribly big, and the two boys share a room, so most of their toys are out in our lounge/dining area, stored on a big wire shelf. Most of the time they are contained in baskets and tubs, and so this is how our ‘day of declutter’ went:

Make a time and space:
I warned the boys that we’d be going through their toys a couple of days before we started: this gave them time to process the whole idea, and also to start thinking about things we were going to give away.
I set up a trestle table in the lounge room, and this was our sorting station. We could bring a whole shelf of toys over and go through them, which made it a bit easier when we had an empty shelf to re-stack things once the decision was made to keep them.

Have a place to put things that are moving out:
We had several tubs, the kids helped write the labels: Give away (we had a couple of these, one was for a little friend of ours who inherited some of the boys’ favourite toys!), Put away (things that belonged in another place), Sell (not everything that went in here is going to be sold, but at least they got excited about it!), a bin for broken toys, and Play (I knew that they’d find things they wanted to play with straight away. Having this tub meant they could set the things aside until decluttering was finished!).



Take it one step at a time, but keep moving:
First of all, we emptied a toy shelf and put it all on the table. Then I would hold something up and the boys would tell me ‘keep, give away, or sell’, and they’d put it in the appropriate tub. It was an effort to keep them focussed, but it worked really well, and actually moved a lot faster than I had imagined. In the end, they lost a bit of interest and started playing next to me, but they kept helping and it meant that I could sort as I went and packed things into their correct tubs.

You don’t have to do it all at once:
I knew that an hour or so would be enough for my boys (although we did manage to repeat the process in their bedroom that day as well). We got through the toys, and did books on another day, but we still have to deal with paper and sculptures! (And Lego. I am still a bit overwhelmed by the Lego). I was really proud of my boys and how they made decisions to give away a large number of toys.

This is the pile of toys leaving our house!

This is the pile of toys leaving our house!

This is how I did it, but you must remember that my children are five and six years old, and this is the first time that I’ve had so much help with decluttering toys. With younger children, they may not be ready to part with their toys (or they may want to get rid of things that you’re not ready to part with, because you don’t think they have played with it enough!). The best thing to do with younger children is to rotate the toys – have a couple of baskets or a shelf of toys that they play with and then swap them for others every so often. I used to stash birthday and Christmas gifts away so that I could bring out a ‘new’ toy every so often. As your baby grows through developmental stages, they will play with toys differently, and it will become obvious to you when they have ‘outgrown’ something.

About The Author


Tanya lives in Canberra with her husband and two sons. She is passionate about helping women to live fulfilled, purposeful lives. She enjoys reading, cooking, craft and creating memorable moments for her family.

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