There aren’t many babies or young children in our family. My kids are actually the youngest. We also don’t have a very large family, and everyone loves our little ones to pieces, so you can imagine how much stuff my kids get. Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and of course, just because gifts have filled our home. It’s a blessing, indeed, but we also don’t want to spoil the kids. Plus, after a while, it starts to feel like we are living in a toy store. It became time to de-clutter.
Jada loves to play with everything, from trucks to dolls to pots and pans. She is a girl with many interests, and it’s hard to determine what should go and what should stay, especially since we are balancing her desires with her brother’s. It’s also hard to determine her favorites, because aside from a couple of dolls, her favorite toys change from day to day. How can I possibly decide what to say goodbye to, and how to manage it all?
Finally, after much brainstorming, I decided to implement a few strategies and they seem to be working. We still have “toy clutter,” but it’s contained, and we have a lot less in the house than we once did. Here are a few things that have worked for my family. I hope some of them work for yours.
- Select two times a year where you donate as a family. During the summer and around the holidays, I talk to my kids about giving. Right now, my oldest understands, but Jada isn’t quite ready yet. I have the conversation with her anyway. She will be ready in her own time. This is a chance to gather toys that are in great condition and it’s also a chance for me to pull together things I no longer need. Everybody wins.
- Do an “out of sight, out of mind” test. To determine how attached my kids are to a toy, I put it somewhere unusual for a bit. If they notice it is missing and ask for it, I determine it’s a keeper. If weeks go by and no one says a thing, it can go.
- Focus on the importance of sharing. Sharing is caring, right? The sooner we teach our kids how to share, the easier it will be for them to giveaway items that they don’t need or use much.
- Try to limit their attachment to too many things. I try to play hide and seek, dance, and play other games around the house pretty often. This way my kids become attached to experiences as much as (if not more than) they are attached to things.
- Send an offer out to friends who have recently had babies. Some of us feel weird about offering our old stuff because we don’t want to offend anyone. I used to feel that way, but I got over it and thank goodness because some of my friends have been able to make great use of things my kids just don’t need anymore.
- Throw away what’s broken. It’s cute, it’s bright, it’s one of their favorites – oh, and it’s broken. Yep, it’s broken and we still want to hold on. Just throw it out. Our kids bounce back a lot more quickly than we think. They will be just fine without the broken toy.
- Ask yourself if you are keeping it for them or for you. It’s a tough question to ask ourselves, but sometimes keeping the stuff has absolutely nothing to do with our kids. It’s our own issue. Let’s not pass it on to them.
- Get great organizers. I love all kinds of bins – plastic, cloth, wooden – you name it, I love it. Finding the right storage solutions for your space can make all the difference in how organized things are and can certainly keep any clutter to a minimum.