Last Updated on October 8, 2019 by Sarah
Want to know how to declutter toys in your child’s bedroom or playroom?
Below I’m going to show you exactly how to declutter toys in 4 simple steps, so your child is left with an uncluttered space that invites play and creativity.
For me, toys are like boomerangs. You can throw them away, hand them down to friends, or give them to a second hand store.
But they always seem to turn up again! In some form or another.
Kids are toy magnets. It’s the world we live in and I’m ever grateful for all the toys & books we’ve been given. But kids can have too many toys. And they can also have the wrong types of toys.
Not only is this overwhelming for children; it can also interfere with their natural instincts for imaginative and creative play. Things so pivotal to a child’s development.
As this study cited,
I experienced this first hand, when my daughter said, ‘There are so many toys in my toy box Mummy, I don’t know what to play with’. At which point she asked for Netflix!
This was my cue that we needed to declutter her toys…
Now, whilst your kids may initially resist letting go off some of their beloved plastic items and toys they’ve long outgrown, I think you’ll find that less really is more.
In terms of our own experience, despite some initial resistance at reorganising stuff (my daughter doesn’t like change), she now knows exactly where things are and makes a conscious decision on what to play with, far more than she used to.
In fact I’ve helped with more fairy puzzles recently than I ever imagined possible and spent just short of a light year helping construct one of these…(I jest of course. Well, sort of…;))
Ok, here’s how to declutter toys in your home in 4 simple steps.
Note: Some of the ideas below are adapted from the book Simplicity Parenting – a great read on the power of less in childrens’ lives.
How To Declutter Toys Step 1 – Getting Started
Ok, the first thing you need to do is go through your child’s toys and sort out a discard pile. This will help immensely in reducing your child’s playthings. It will also help ensure the toys that remain are ones that foster creativity and imagination in your child.
Here’s what to get rid of:
- Broken toys or torn, unreadable books – if you are truly going to fix toys, that’s fine, just remove them until fixed. Otherwise discard them.
- Toys and books that are age inappropriate – this includes toys that your child has either grown out of or is not yet old enough for. Old toys can be given away and age inappropriate toys stored in a cupboard until later.
- Repeats of the same toys – discard multiples of similar cuddly toys, dolls or model cars that aren’t the ‘go to’ favourites. This helps reduce toy numbers and discourages the idea that more is better.
- Toys that don’t really have a purpose – for example, fad toys that generally end up at the bottom of a toy box within a week. For me, this is things like Hello Kitty or Pokemon items or toys where you’re encouraged to buy multiple versions. I find these types of toys have little staying power and invite little real engagement.
- High stimulation toys – in a world full of constant media stimulations, high stimulation toys that manically beep, flash, toot and speak in a robotic way, only increase the sensory overload. If you don’t want to discard them completely, at least reduce them to a minimum.
How To Declutter Toys Step 2 – Getting Serious With Your Discard Pile!
The next steps are highly recommended, but may (or may not!) be more controversial for you or your child, since they involve decluttering some toys that are very much part of popular culture!
Definitely consider implementing them though – your decluttering efforts will be better for it:
- Toys that encourage violent play – my Dad made guns from sticks as a kid and raced around as a gun toting cowboy, but this was imaginative, innocent play. The glamorisation of guns in much of today’s toy culture seems less innocent somehow and certainly more excessive. I found over 40,000 results for ‘toy guns’ alone on Amazon, many very realistic. So use your intuition and remove toys you feel condone or glamorise violence in some way.
- Movie and TV branded toys – the problem with movie & TV branded toys is they’re designed solely to make money. As a result, they tend to be one dimensional, often giving children little more than a quick fix. It’s tough to remove these types of toys completely and, really, you don’t need to (I’d have gone nuts if my Mum had decluttered my Star Wars figures when I was 7!) – but do look to streamline movie & TV related toys to the ones your child genuinely values.
- Toys that promote negative body image – ok, so the Barbie & Ken sketch in Toy Story is hysterical. But it was a parody! For me, Barbie is still part of our relentless representation of unrealistically thin and overly sexualised women. So look to reduce toys you feel may convey a negative message about body type. Examples might be the eeeeendless array of ‘perfect’ Disney princesses and the recent explosion of insanely muscly super hero characters (Luke Skywalker didn’t need to be that muscle bound did he? His power came from within!)
How To Declutter Toys Step 3 – Dealing With Your Discard Pile
By now you should be left with a pile of discarded toys. Here are some ideas for what to do with them.
- Recycle any broken toys at your local recycling depot.
- Donate any discarded toys that are still in good condition to a charity or thrift store.
- Store any age inappropriate toys in a cupboard (or in the attic) until your child is the right age to use them.
Note: Decluttering your child’s toys is not meant to be an exercise in upsetting anyone or going to minimalist extremes. If your child gets genuinely upset about discarding a toy, keep it for now. The goal here is to streamline toys to the ones your child genuinely values or which open up opportunities for real play – not to set up some sort of Victorian environment!
How To Declutter Toys Step 4 – Organising Your Remaining Toys
By now, you should have significantly decluttered your child’s toys and books. Don’t you feel lighter just thinking about it!
Now comes the good bit. Organising everything that’s left.
The ideal you’re aiming for here is a manageable number of toys and books, which you can now sort into storage containers, baskets or a similar suitable place.
How you organise the toys is essentially up to you – but here are some tips I find work really well.
1 – Store similar toys together – doing this means your child knows where things are.
- We store all puzzles and games in separate storage containers like these. I’ve found this re-ignites puzzles and games that have got lost for months (or even years). I also love these storage containers.
- For imaginative play toys, such as Lego, Playmobil, tea sets etc, we use one of these fabric toy storage containers.
- Larger items, such as wooden train sets or building bricks are stored in plastic under bed containers, for easy retrieval.
- All pretend play/dressing up gear is kept together in an inexpensive dressing up box, such as these cute storage chests.
- I also really like these handy kids’ storage organisers – a best seller on Amazon.
2 – Ensure art supplies are easily accessible in one place – art has loads of developmental benefits for kids, so look to ensure a constant supply of paper, pens and arty bits are always on hand for spontaneous drawing and making. I plan to get one of these art storage carts shortly, which I spotted on the highly recommended site, Tinkerlab.
3 – Store toys at a level low enough for your child to reach – for us, this usually means on the floor or under the bed. If something requires standing on a chair to access it, it’s too high!
4 – Store books in a low level bookcase – this means your child can easily browse through them. Make the surrounding area comfy, perhaps with a bean bag, to encourage a quiet space for independent reading.
Consider a Toy Lending Library
If, after decluttering your child’s toys, you still feel you’re left with too many – especially larger items such as play castles, dolls houses and kitchens etc – you might want to consider Simplicity Parenting’s idea for a toy ‘lending library’.
Essentially, this means putting some toys in storage – sort of like a toy library. For every toy that comes out of the library, one from your child’s room must be put into ‘storage’.
Whilst this may not be for everyone, it is a novel way to help children appreciate each toy, plus it prevents rooms from quickly getting cluttered up again.
How To Declutter Toys – Wrapping It Up
So there you have it. How to declutter and organise toys in 4 easy steps.
We live in a world obsessed with stuff and it’s hard to avoid the onslaught of adverts and peer pressure encouraging us to buy the latest raft of ‘must have’ toys (when all kids they really need are toys like these).
Unfortunately, this culture of excess can often lead to an excessive amount of toys and a sense of overwhelm for ours kids.
And a state of overwhelm is not likely to foster deep imaginative & creative play – things so pivotal to a child’s development.
I don’t know about you, but if I feel overwhelmed, I can’t focus. Or if I’m faced with too many choices, I often end up flitting between a few and not committing fully to anything.
So taking the time to declutter and organise our children’s toys is a wonderful gift we can give them as parents.
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less To Raise Calmer, Happier & More Secure Kids
- Cool Toys For Kids: 15 Toys That Foster Creativity & Imagination
- 5 Reasons I Stopped Buying TV & Movie Branded Toys