How To Tame Children’s Toy Clutter: Say Goodbye To Toy Overwhelm

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How can tiny humans attract so many things? That was something I asked at least once a week when my children were young. It seemed like my entire day revolved around feeding, clothing and cleaning up after them. And the biggest thing in the cleanup department was dealing with their toys.

Bath toys, outdoor toys, building toys, big toys, little toys, and more toys, toys and toys! It wasn’t until child number three came along six and a half years after child number one that I finally had created a system for keeping toy clutter tamed that seemed to work for our family. Today I am sharing that system with you.

Get control of toy clutter with these organizing solutions. A step by step plan for kids' toy clutter that really works.

How To Tame Children’s Toy Clutter

Give It A Defined Space Limit

Before you do anything about the number of toys, your child (or children) own, you must first decide how much room you have for them.

Toy collections can grow large fast! Mostly thanks to the fact that they are usually not expensive, especially if you shop smart and free ones are available everywhere you turn–yes, I am talking about you Happy Meal toys!

Set up a few areas in your home where you are willing to have toys. The family room and your child’s or children’s bedroom for starters. Place bins and shelving in these areas so you know what your toy space limits are before you start your toy purge. Don’t forget to put a small bin in the bathroom for bath toys and something in your yard or garage for outside toys.

We had shelving units similar to these when our children were little for storing toys. They held up well (we are still using them in our home-just for other things now). I used laundry baskets, plastic bins with lids or inexpensive dishpans to hold toys.

If You Can, Keep One Room Of Your Home Toy Free

While you are planning out your toy storage, I highly recommend you also decided where toys will not go. There is nothing wrong with having at least one area of your home be toy free.

When my kids were growing up, the TV room where my husband and I liked to relax in the evenings was mostly toy free. The kids could have their toys in there during the day, but at the end of the day, I placed any toys found in the TV room in a basket that lived in the corner of the room. When that basket started to get full, I made a point of putting the toys back in their proper homes.

This got rid of my mental “agggghhhhh!! There are toys everywhere!!!!” stress–at least in the evening.

How To Tame Children's Toy Clutter: Say Goodbye To Toy Stress

Perform A Toy Purge

Now that you have decided how much room you have for toys and where to store them, it is time to carry out a major toy purge. You might have to be brutal to get the kids’ toy collection to fit in its defined space, but it will be worth it.

If your child is under three, you can probably do this all by yourself. The chances of them even noticing is minimal, and my guess is you truly know what toys they love and what toys they never play with.

With children ages three to six I personally think it depends on the child; some will notice and some won’t. If you think they won’t, I would do it alone, but I would keep the toys I purged in an area they don’t access and keep them there for at least a month. That way if they do ask for it, you can magically make it reappear and if they don’t ask for it within a few weeks, then the toys can be donated or resold.

With children older than six I would include them. They need to learn at a young age that not everything they either buy or are given can be kept forever. Show them how much space they have for toys and let them do the hard job of picking which ones stay. You can stay and help, but let them make the final choices.

Psst…If you are planning to resell the toys that you didn’t keep, visit my Reselling tips page for help with selling your items fast and for top dollar.

Don’t Let The Toys Outgrow The Space

With your toy purge complete make sure that you don’t let the toy collection outgrow the boundaries you set for it again. To keep this from happening you need to do mini purges of your toys bins regularly. Which brings me to my next point.

How To Tame Children's Toy Clutter: Say Goodbye To Toy Stress

Before Every Birthday And Christmas Do A Toy Purge

Birthdays and Christmas are generally where the bulk of the new toys come from in most homes. Make a point to schedule a toy purge for each child before these particular dates. This will make room for the new and help you avoid having to do a major toy purge ever again.

Give And Encourage Others To Give Clutter-free Gifts

To decrease the number of toys you have to purge why not give your kids clutter-free gifts and suggest others do too.

Here are a few suggestions

  • Tickets to their favorite place to visit like the zoo or children’s museum.
  • Certificate of enrollment in a class they have wanted to try.
  • Gift cards to their favorite restaurant.
  • Art supplies that can be used up like new felts, crayons, or a craft kit.

Psst…Did you know that Hollar has an entire section devoted to kids’ arts and crafts supplies and that it includes Crayola products at great prices? Use my referral link (these words in blue) to create a Hollar account and get a $5 credit (this deal could change at any time).

How To Tame Children's Toy Clutter: Say Goodbye To Toy Stress

Consider Toy Rotation

If storage space is minimal in your home or if you just couldn’t get the kids to let go of as many toys as you would have liked, try toy rotation. Buy a big bin with a lid and place the toys that don’t fit in the defined storage area within it. Put the bin out of sight and mind–a closest, garage, basement or attic are all perfect places.

On a day when it seems like the kids are bored with all their current toys, bring out the bin and tell them they can have these toys if they refill the bin with toys that are currently out. Or you can surprise them by doing this on your own during nap time or after they have gone to bed.

Have At Least One Daily Clean Up Time And Include The Kids

This right here is a game changer. Often we adults feel like there are too many toys not because there are, but because the kids have spread them everywhere.

When my children were little either before dinner or before bed, they would help me pick up all their toys for the day and put them away. When they were in bed for the night, I would do one last sweep of the living areas to make the living area floors and furniture toy free for the evening.

How To Tame Children's Toy Clutter: Say Goodbye To Toy Stress


Realize This Is A Season

The last area I decluttered during my 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home challenge was they toy basket that sat in the corner of our family room. At that point, it hadn’t been touched in years (grief over the loss of several loved ones caused me to let clutter pile up for a while). When I cleared it out, I cried. Never in all the years of picking up toys day after day did I think I would one day find myself crying over toys disappearing from my home, but I did.

The toy season of your children’s childhood will only last so long. One day you will realize it has been ages since you accidentally stepped on a lego or sat on a barbie. When you see a toy mess and you start to feel stressed by it, pause, take a deep breath and thank God for the little ones that made it.

Psst…need help and support with decluttering your home? Join my Snail Pace Clutter Removers Facebook group where we battle clutter one pile at a time.

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