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Simplifying Toys: The time (& sanity) saving trick for sorting all of your kids’ toys in an hour

We all know we should purge our kids' toys--but it is ALOT of work! Here is a trick to get it all done in an hour!

Look familiar? (To me the funniest part is my husband’s dirty clothes on the right mixed in with everything else!)

For me, one of the most daunting minimizing tasks was simplifying and purging the kids toys. With four kids it felt like there were toys everywhere…we tried to keep them contained to the family room, but inevitably they would get drug into the kitchen, and my office and into their bedrooms…and we moms only have so much energy to correct our kids in a day, so that rule was often neglected.

But when I finally decided enough was enough, I came up with a battle plan: I was going to decide which type of toys we were keeping and EVERYTHING else went.

You can read more about the toys that made the cut and how I decided to keep them here.

I had my husband take the kids out for awhile and I got out a garbage bag, a couple of boxes, and a large plastic storage tote.

What I had decided to keep were mostly legos, blocks, a couple of dolls and accessories, little people, and a few trucks and tractors.

With this in mind, everything else had to go. I didn’t have to look at each item and think “should we keep this or not? How much do the kids play with it? Will they notice or be sad if it is gone?” (This is the energy suck of sorting toys, all of the debating!)

So the trick was: no pondering over each toy, if it wasn’t in one of my “keep” categories, it had to go in one of the three other spots: garbage bag, box for Goodwill, or tote to be stored in the garage.

There were a few toys that I just wasn’t sure about, they were more expensive and the kids played with them sometimes. So these went in the tote to be stored in the garage. If in the next three months I thought we needed them (I use that term loosely!), I could pull them back out, if not, they would be going to Goodwill in three months.

Of course, you could probably guess, we never pulled any of the toys out of the garage! And off to Goodwill they went :)

I like this option, though, for a couple of reasons:

  1. When the kids got home and wondered where all of their toys were I could honestly say “I decided to pack some of them away in the garage. We can rotate them back in if you get bored with these toys.” (I’ve tried not to be dishonest with them through this process, it’s not always easy!)
  2. It helps our brain detach. We’re human and we get attached to things, its just how it goes! By putting toys out of site for awhile it allows our brains (and our children’s) to detach from the items so that it really isn’t a big deal to get rid of them in a few weeks or months.

This of course works for just about everything in our home that we need to pare down :)

In the end, all of our toys fit in here:

We all know we should purge our kids' toys--but it is ALOT of work! Here is a trick to get it all done in an hour!

I’ve said this before, but I’ve gotten rid of about 90% of our toys and our kids truly don’t miss them, in fact, I think they are happier without them. Looking back, I think they were a little overwhelmed by all of the toys. It was too much for them to keep clean themselves, and they always had to sort through huge bins of unused toys with dead batteries  and missing pieces to find what they were looking for.

They also love all of the extra free space in our family room to dance and “practice gymnastics’ :)

So if you just aren’t sure, be encouraged! Your kids may respond better than you think!

I’ll leave you with an inspiring article from Living Well Spending Less:  Why I Took My Kids’ Toys Away (& Why They Won’t Get Them Back)

What hesitations do you have about purging the toys in your house? Or do you have any helpful advice? Please share below! :)

 

Dawn

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We all know we should purge our kids' toys--but it is ALOT of work! Here is a trick to get it all done in an hour!

9 Comments

  1. What advise would you give a home child care provider to simplify toys? My own children are 10,12 and 13 and so there isn’t anything I need to keep for them. It seems like there is constant pressure to have so much to play with, and I just wonder if there’s a better way. My kids complain that they live in a daycare center and sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in “stuff”. I would love any advise you can give! Thanks!

    • Hi Gen, that is a tricky situation! While I haven’t been in your shoes exactly, we have four kids age 6 and under and I have gotten rid of 90% of their toys over the past two years, and they STILL play just as well, if not better with our limited selection. I wonder if you would have a similar experience with your daycare kids? You could always pack away a bunch of the toys to do a trial run and then see if you need to bring them back out? And, if parents expect to see a wide variety of toys at your home, you could always tell them that you’re trying a new system where you rotate the toys if they notice that they have been scaled down? This whole process can be ALOT of work, but hopefully it will prove worth it! :)

  2. Ann Galassi

    Your home is my inspiration! I’ve always been an organization “freak”. Always organizing but never organized. As I’ve read about minimalism over the past year the whole “less is more” thing made so much more sense than buying organizational items (more junk). I’m now following you on Facebook, Thank you for all your inspiration and tips!

    • …and thank you for the kind words! It was ALOT of work to get to this point, but it pays off everyday :) Blessings on your journey!!!

  3. Ann Galassi

    My home and my brain is a work in progress on living with less. I recently purged my child’s toys. But he still has so many. I have two concerns about purging more toys. He is an only child and very imaginative. I feel like I’m robbing him of imagination and entertainment if I get rid of more toys.
    Secondly…..LEGOs!
    OMGosh, Legos!
    He loves the mini Star Wars Lego figures, and is just recently starting to use blocks to create his own things. But he is constantly frustrated (and me too) because he can’t find pieces he’s looking for. Not a day goes by that we are not on a frantic search for Darth Vader’s head (or some other piece).
    Any tips?

    • Hi Ann! I totally get your concern with getting rid of “too many” toys, especially if your little guy is an only child, but I can confidently tell you this: I think our kids are more imaginative now with fewer toys. In the past I often felt like the toys required very little imagination. Now, the kids use kitchen towels for doll blankets and couch pillows for their beds. Their greatest joy in the bath tub is a plastic bottle from the recycling and our older son uses books and cardboard boxes and blocks for car ramps. I’ll never forget one time when our oldest daughter came home from playing at a friend’s house and told me about the elaborate doll house she had and doll furniture and accessories…I wondered to myself if I had lost my mind and gone overboard with purging their toys…but then she quickly forgot about it and went about playing with her own doll. Of course toys aren’t “bad” and we all need to find the right balance for our family…so if you have to, box some more up and stick them in the garage (or closet or crawl space) and see if they are actually missed or not :) Oh and legos…we’re just getting into the smalls ones and a lot of my rubbermaid containers are getting used up! Why do they want to bring them EVERYWHERE…in the car, to nana and grandpa’s…I definitely haven’t mastered this one yet!

      • Ann Galassi

        Yes, Legos must go with us everywhere! Thank for your insight. I think I need to let go of the idea (and remember) that imagination is not in the toys but in a child’s mind.

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