Inside: Kids thrive with fewer toys! Here you’ll discover how to declutter toys by identifying 4 types of toys to ditch when becoming a minimalist family.
We had such great momentum diving into this new life of less. I was loading stuff into my car and hauling it out of here like a maniac. I’m sure at some point our neighbors thought we were moving. It was invigorating.
However, I soon came to realize that toys, specifically, would be a never-ending battle.
Even if my kids were fully on board all day, everyday, they would still have birthdays, Easter, class parties and Christmas.
“Be a Ruthless Editor of what you allow into your home.” -Nate Berkus
Toys keep coming in and it’s my job to defend our new found sanity.
How to Declutter Toys
I thought I would take the time to be specific and give a comprehensive look into exactly what toys we have gotten rid of. These photos are a little embarrassing, and remarkably low quality, but here it is. We had so much stuff!
As you begin, maintain that ruthless editor mentality until the end, stand firm on your why statement and brace yourself for the many attempts your children will make at negotiating in regards to broken toys. You guys, broken toys!
As I watched my children stress and scramble over removing the most frivolous, gaudy and low quality possessions, I realized we needed this life even more than I knew.
Here are 4 categories of toys to declutter as you transition into minimalism.
1. Junk Toys
This is the low hanging fruit. Any toy with a broken or missing piece, get rid of it. Any game with a broken spinner or missing game pieces, trash it!
I suggest having a family puzzle night and assemble every puzzle you own. Keep only the ones that can be made whole.
“But what if I find that one missing puzzle piece later?” you ask. You probably won’t. Look at how many puzzles you have! Just trash it! If you do find that missing piece later in your journey, go ahead and toss it in the trash as well. But odds are good it’s gone forever.
I also got rid of anything I would refer to as a “junky toy.” For example, Happy Meal toys, birthday party favors, prizes from an arcade or fair. I got rid of pretty much any toy that would most likely break after a few uses anyway.
Eliminate your duplicate toys. For example, we had three different toy stethoscopes, four baby dolls, three baby doll strollers, two baby doll cribs, three Elsa figurines and don’t get me started on stuffed animals. How many stuffed dogs does one family need?
3. NEVER ENDING THEMED TOYS
I’m referring to toys that are always coming up with new characters, accessories and models.
When someone would ask us, “What does Jameson want for his birthday?” and I’d reply, “Oh I don’t know, he loves Spiderman right now.” And the next thing you know we’d add five new Spiderman toys on top of the thirty he already owned.
A little goes a long way when it comes to Hot Wheels, action figures, Shopkins and play food. For some reason we’ve bought into the marketing that our kids need all the colors, all the options and every upgrade.
I had my son pick about five Hot Wheels and the rest we donated to our church.
The same went for play food. I realized that more food options did not equal more time and attention given to the play kitchen. It was chaotic and overstimulating to even be around that kitchen because it was an overflowing, disorganized mess. I removed well over half of our kitchen accessories and play food and you know what? They play with it even more now.
You might be thinking, “Slow your roll crazy lady. What kind of mother gets rid of books? Doesn’t she want her kids to read?”
Kids love new books. With a few exceptions, most books turn into clutter once they’ve been read.
I’m not suggesting you go all Fahrenheit 451 on your books. Instead, use your local library!
Prior to minimalism, I did not have the capacity to borrow books from the Library. Once those books entered my home I would have to be responsible for them! The few times I’d gone in the past resulted in embarrassing late fees and the occasional lost book. It just became easier to purchase books at a garage sale for .25 cents a piece.
Hence the massive quantity of books we accumulated.
When ditching our books, I gave each child a small bin (one of the many newly empty bins I had lying around the house) to keep their books in. They were able to keep as many books as their bin could hold. The rest we donated to their school.
We have since made multiple trips to the library and have donated even more books. Now that I’m not wading through 200+ books of our own, the library’s are easy to find when it’s time to return them. Who knew?
After I removed the junk, duplicates, excess books and the endless themed toys, I still had too many toys. At this point I just had to choose.
I started to choose what to keep with the assumption that almost everything should probably go. I only kept what I knew to be the most dear to them.
The ninja turtle figurines are gone. Many Disney figurines are gone. The rocking horse and pop up tent…gone.
I intend, from this point forward, to be more careful about what kind of toys we own.
My kids don’t need a new toy to accompany every newly released Disney movie.
Establishing tangible boundaries for kids is very helpful in teaching them how to declutter toys. It sets the standard for how much can stay. Rather than add more bins to hold more toys, let the kids decide what to keep based on what fits in their designated space. If I’ve learned anything while parenting it’s that kids thrive with boundaries. Set them and stick with them.
People Over Possessions
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend of those with kids, make a conscious decision to handle toys with intention. Keep and give gifts which promote creativity, imagination and deeper relationships.
My kids prefer activities like baking, going to a movie, playing games, swinging, fishing, at-home manicures and fishing. If they come home with a toy it’s quickly forgotten about, but when they have the opportunity to attend a Michigan State game (Go Green!) with an aunt or bake cookies with grandma, it draws them closer and creates memories that outlast battery life.
Since our initial toy purge, our kids are playing longer with what they have and best of all, we are all spending less time cleaning up! There is more time for family games and more space for living room soccer and basement gaga ball.
Don’t focus on the less, but rather what it is less makes room for. Experiences, growth, relationships, quality and the ability to spend time doing the things we cherish most.
Read: 5 Important First Steps When Implementing Minimalism With Kids & The 3 Words That Helped My Kids Embrace Minimalism for more on helping your kids own less stuff.
Becoming a Minimalist Family
We’ve been at this minimalist family thing for the better part of three years. Along the way, we’ve picked up many tips, hacks and strategies that have help my kids learn how to declutter toys and kept them motivated and challenged them to go deeper.