Spring Cleaning: Toys Made Easy!

Oh, spring...I'm sure you are on your way, right? I mean that snowbank out my window is just a figment of my imagination...UGH!

Well, nevertheless, spring cleaning is in full swing at my house! 

If you missed out on our previous posts about "De-cluttering your home and your life", then you will want to catch up here:

Since I last wrote, we have been busy cleaning out the "kid" rooms. These include the bedrooms and the dreaded playroom. Just hearing the word "playroom" makes me tired!  But, we had to buckle down and do it!  We did the bedrooms one night and the playroom on a Saturday.

One word:  Toys.
Two words: More toys.
Three words: Donate, donate, donate!!!

If you feel the same way, I am here to help!  

I think that if children have too many toys, it can be overwhelming. Also, if you think about it, the more toys they have, the less that each toy gets played with before they are outgrown or the batteries are dead! Right? 

Also, remember back to when you were growing up...did you have an entire room dedicated to toys, books, stuffed animals, remote control cars or iPads and Leapsters?  I mean, really. Do they REALLY play with EVERYTHING in there?  Doesn't it make you crazy to walk in and see the piles of "stuff" all over the place? I am a pretty organized person and our playroom always has had the little bins and the closet system to store games, etc. But, it was NEVER "nicely organized" all at one time except for the 10 minutes after we organized it! What a waste of time.

So, if you are with me and want no more of the craziness, here's what you gotta do!

1. First, you have to get over the fact that you will "hurt" someone's feelings by getting rid of a toy that they gave to your children. Most people understand that there comes a time when the toy is no longer needed or wanted. And, chances are good that they will never know anyway.

2. Next, you have to get rid of YOUR emotional attachment to the items that are no longer needed or used. See my post on Decluttering: The Basics.  Remember how clutter can affect our emotions, our actions and our relationships. Reflect on the benefits of de-cluttering. This will inspire you to donate away and know that you will still have those precious memories even so!

Are you ready? Are you detached?  Let's get started with a step-by-step for tackling the toys in any room!

1. The kids: Your first job is to make the children aware of what is happening. Talk with them about the fact that some toys are going to be donated and what exactly that means.  Talk to them about people in need and also about how you need to make room for more toys that will come in throughout the year.  You can even set up a reward system.  For instance, they get a "point" for each toy they donate and when they reach "25 points", they get to go to the zoo or bowling or something special!

2. Designate Areas:  Before sorting through toys, designate areas to put each and every toy until all of the toys are gone through.  These are the piles we used:

          -Save for the baby (or someone you know)
          -Sell at yard sale (I didn't want to have one, so we donated)
Donated Toys and Books

3. Set A Goal:  How many toys do you want to remove? How many do you have space for?  Set a goal and let your kids know. Remember the "point" system can correlate to this.  We got rid of about 1/3.

4. Get Started!  OK, here is decision time. I gave my kids 5-10 seconds with each toy.  I told them that if they took too long, mommy or daddy would decide for them.  It only took a few times before they caught on! :) 
***When we first started, I encouraged them by saying "find 5 toys you want to keep". Then, I had them find 5 they wanted to donate.  That way they felt comfortable with the process.

5.  Clean:  Now that you have 5 piles (or 4), you are ready to clean out the playroom. Dust the shelves, bookcases, whatever...clean the floors, wipe the walls. There is no reason you can't take the extra time to do this. Do you really want to wait until you "spring clean" next year? Ick.  Don't forget to wipe down the "keep" toys that need a bit of dusting before you put them back!

6. Sort The "Keep":  I know, I know, one more step. But, this will be easier.  Sort your "keep" toys into piles such as books, stuffed animals (ugh, my pet peeve!), balls, games, etc.  I love using see-through containers and shoe boxes to store them. When placing them back on shelves, you should put the toys with small pieces or the ones that need supervision in order to play in higher levels of the room.  The safer ones such as giant Legos, chunk puzzles, etc. should be placed within easy reach of the children.

7. Label: If your children are able to read, use a label maker to mark which bins are for what toys. Or, if your children are younger, take a photo of the toys that go in each bins and just tape them onto the container.

8. Rules:  No matter what, it is a great time to set some toy-playing rules if you haven't already done so.  Point out the toys that they are required to ASK to play with (the ones with supervision or that are too high for them to reach).  Also, let them know that if they want to get out a new toy, they need to put back the one they are playing with.

Other tips:

- Each night, grab a laundry basket and have the kids fill it with the toys that are lying around the house. Then have them put them where they belong.  This will eliminate you having to wake up to a house of craziness...well, with toys anyway!

- Rotate your childrens' toys if you still don't have enough room for your "keep" toys.  I love the expression on their faces when they "find" a toy that they have missed!

- No one needs more than a couple stuffed animals, if that.  I am still trying to figure out why they still make them? They get my vote for most useless toys in the world.

- When you are shopping for holidays, birthdays, etc...ask yourself if you will be so happy you bought the toy you are considering for your child in 3 months. Will it still be in one piece or will parts be missing?  Is it a "fad" or does it fit in with the toys your child adores?  Do you have a place for it?

In closing...

If you can keep toys confined to the bedrooms, that would be ideal.  A few toys in the corner of a room are fine, but the more room you allow for toys, the more toys seem to accumulate. I know from experience! :) 

You will also feel SOOOOO relieved when you are finished with sorting toys and donating them to a charity.  Yes, we could have made some good money with all of the toys we donated, but I did NOT want to store them anymore. In the first night alone, we got 5 huge trash bags full of toys to bring to the Salvation Army! That was just from their bedrooms! AWESOME feeling!

I know you can do this, so get busy! And, get the family involved. Throw on some music, get some snacks, whatever. It actually was fun when I think back...hard work, but fun!

Don't forget to report back!

Do you have a toy tip that you are willing to share?  I'd love to hear it! 

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