After seeing a friend clean out a pretty massive amount of toys last week, I was inspired to do the same. The recent holiday had brought quite a few new toys into our house. The fact that my daughter’s birthday was only four days after Christmas certainly didn’t help the toy invasion either.
Honestly, I didn’t even know where to start. The living room, where 95% of my daughter’s toys and books “live,” was already a post-Christmas disaster, complete with piles of gifts, stacks of Christmas cards, and folded laundry (okay – not all of it was folded) begging to be put into drawers. So, I decided just to add to the mess. I emptied everything from her storage cube, two standing baskets, and a large box filled with stuffed animals. Then, I let the sorting begin.
Here are some tips for making the toy purge process easier, and for yielding better results:
Gather any toys that belong outdoors. Why did I have five balls in my living room? They were not only taking up space, but they were just asking to be kicked around. I placed them all in a bin, along with some plastic beach toys and gardening tools, and they will go into the basement until the weather allows us to spend more time outside.
Donate or store any outgrown toys. Whether you intend to have more children or the baby-making shop is closed, there is no need to keep toys around that have been outgrown. They can be placed out of sight, ready to make an appearance for a new baby when the time is right. If they are leaving the house for good, the parting process can be emotional, but there is no need to have them taking up valuable real estate in your home. There are plenty of places that would be more than happy to take gently-used baby toys such as day cares or women’s shelters. You also could make some quick cash by posting some of your toy stash on a local tag sale site. (And in case you are wondering, it is totally acceptable to hold on to a few of your favorite baby toys, at least for now).
Remove items that are not actually toys. In the purge, I discovered that we had quite a few non-toy items mixed within the shelves and baskets. Plastic Easter eggs, measuring cups, bath toys, Christmas ornaments – somehow they had all crept into the mess. Once you find these things, return them to their proper locations.
Take batteries out of toys that are going into storage. I think we have all learned that leaving batteries in toy/electronics that we value can end in disaster, so take a few extra minutes to remove the batteries from anything that you are storing away. While it can be a pain, it will inevitably prolong the life of your toys.
Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to books. I am such a sucker for books, especially because my daughter loves to read. That said, it does no one any good to hold on to books that are beaten up. Ripped pages, missing covers – it is okay to toss these in the garbage (or recycling!). I also recommend removing the jackets from picture books and placing them someplace safe, in order to ensure they don’t get destroyed. If you find that you have too many books, Read to Grow (one of my favorite reading based organizations) welcomes donations of gently-used children’s books.
Be honest with yourself about what your child really uses. The toys our children receive can be far more sentimental that we ever imagined they would be. Maybe they received them at their 1st birthday party, or from a great-grandparent who is no longer with us. Regardless, holding on to toys that are not played with not only adds to the clutter, but it adds to stress. The more stuff we have, the more time we have to spend organizing and cleaning it. So send these toys to another place to be loved by another child – they have served their purpose in your home, and passing them along does not mean that you appreciate them any less, or that the person who gave it to your child means any less to you.
While we all know the final product won’t last all that long, I took great satisfaction in the hour or so it took me to go through everything. And since we live in a small house, it made the toy purge even more critical. Best of luck in your toy clearing adventures!