Simplifying with Kids: How to Declutter Toys (Part 1)

For simplicity sake, I’m going to break a very big task, Decluttering & Organizing a Playroom (or Kids’ Toys), into 3 parts: Declutter, Organize, Maintain. Decluttering will help your family simplify the amount of toys you’re working with, organizing will help you learn effective ways of storing toys to maximize their potential, and maintaining will help you & your children develop systems to keep the toy area clutter free.

I want you to have time to work through each part, so this series will cover the same topic over 3 weeks. That means you have all this week to work on decluttering, and next week will be about organizing.

(If you’re thinking, spare me the chit chat and let’s get to the point…you can skip all this reading and just download my Kids’ Playroom Checklist. It’s just a good reference sheet and exactly what you need to get the work done pronto, without some of the explanation.)

Maybe instinctively you’re thinking, but Kimberly, you only have one young baby so what could you know about simplifying toys?

You’re right, kind of. I only have one young baby. BUT! Did you know I have 10+ years teaching experience, teaching in a self-contained classroom with kids ranging from 2-12 years old? My biggest class ever was 34 students, so I picked up a thing or two about ‘kid stuff management.’

Before I decluttered my classroom and organized it in a more efficient way, I felt overwhelmed by the end of the day. My students would leave for the day, and I’d dread going back into my classroom because I knew what awaited me. A total and complete disaster with remnants of all that had happened throughout the day. Have you ever felt this in your own home?

Here’s what I know to be true about children:

Kids feel overwhelmed by the stuff, too.

We are all walking through life on different paths with ups & downs, twists & turns, and there is certainly no judgment or shame in whatever state your kids’ toys or playroom is in. But because my passion is to serve others with knowledge I’ve gained through experience, the best I can do is share what’s worked in my classroom, as well as for The Case for Simple clients.

So let’s get started with Part 1: Declutter

  1. Grab your kiddos & get them involved! If you want the buy-in later to help maintain the playroom, I recommend empowering your kiddos with this ownership. But you know your kiddos best; if he/she/they won’t be able to handle letting go of things, then you can do this without them. Or you could do the bulk of the work, and then involve them by asking them to choose 3-5 toys to donate.

  2. Gather any item around the house that will be housed in the playroom (or designated play space), making sure to get every last item from every room in the house. It’s important all toys are decluttered in one event. It’s the only way to truly know how much you have and how many duplicates there are.

  3. Find a large working space, such as a cleared-off section of floor. This will be messy for the week, so a low-traffic zone is ideal.

  4. Generally divide toys into categories (Dress Clothes, Toys with Wheels, Blocks, Musical Instruments, Dolls, Board Games, etc)

  5. Choose one category to work through this decluttering process: Hold each toy, one-by-one, & with your children, sort into one of three piles: Keep, Donate, Discard. It’s helpful to establish the 3 piles before starting, and I recommend getting large boxes for the donate and discard. One way to get started in each category is to find broken toys or those with missing parts and discard them first. Then look for duplicates, and donate excessive duplicates.

You’ll repeat this process until toys from each category are sorted. In addition to sorting the indoor toys in the playroom, I recommend also sorting craft & art supplies, board games & puzzles, outdoor toys, video games or digital toys, bath toys, & any other group of toys I’ve left out.

Tips to Keep You Going

It may seem overwhelming right now; this is the hardest part! There are some tricks I’ve learned to keep the motivation up.

  • Have a tasty snack and water ready to go and nearby

  • Turn on your favorite music

  • Find inspiration on Pinterest to remind you of your end goal

  • Invite the family to help and make it fun

  • Devote time in your calendar for the work; you won’t ever find “extra” time to get this done

Even if you only plan for 30 minutes per night, commit to a set time so you’re more likely to complete this week’s task. Next week, I’ll be back to share Part 2: Organize.

While you’re working hard, will you take a 10 second break and snap a “before” picture? Share it with me on Instagram (@thecaseforsimple) so I can offer up encouragement!