Throwback Thursday- Minimizing and Tackling the Toys

by - Thursday, July 28, 2016


This weekend, it’s time to tackle the ever-feared toy stash. We have had a child for a year and change- where did all this stuff come from? The Bub has so many toys that I don’t know that he could use them all if he wanted to, but so many of them are sweet gifts from loved ones, so it is hard to retire them. 

At the same time, I have enough friends and family with kids to know that the toy stashes grow exponentially, so my goal is to thin it out twice a year, because if it reaches past his toy box and his room, the collection is too much. Not to mention, there are plenty of kids out there in the world who don’t have oodles of toys, so we can donate some of ours and let them actually get good use. So the goal? Toys only live in this toy box and this bedroom. I want everything pared down so there isn’t immediate risk of spillover.

So this is my method.

Step One- Make one giant pile of toys. I have learned something about myself. Very often, things survive rounds and rounds of cleaning for no other reason than they are in their spot. It is easier to keep your spot if no one EVER uses you, so piles and stacks have lasted far too long because they made sense contextually. It’s kind of the difference between cleaning and moving. If you have a condensation point, the best first step I can think of is to remove all that stuff from their usual context. It makes a fresh start so much easier.

Step Two- I am going to split the toys into things played with and things grown out of or ignored. Still played with means he does more than throw it out of his toy box every once in a while. Yes, I recognize some things might be too soon developmentally, we will factor that in later.  If I can’t remember the last time he really used it, it makes the pile. Everything that is still in pretty active use goes in the keep pile, EXCEPT for doubles and triples, which may get pared down (really, how many stuffed octopuses and “Corduroy” books does one baby need?).

Step Three- Pull out the emotional keeps. Gifts from family members make most of the cut here, though I don’t know if that can always be the case. But for now, if it makes us too sad to say goodbye, it can be a sentimental keep. We are only having one bin a kid for this, so this will get to be a more and more exclusive club.

I kept SO many of my own toys for sentiment’s sake (because I am the most sentimental person ever), and as I have been cleaning out my space at my Dad’s house, it made me so sad to see perfectly good stuffed animals and toys that time has eaten through. Someone else could have played with those, and I hope some of them are getting played with as we speak. I will feel sad and sentimental about all of my bubby’s toys, because the time goes so fast, but keeping the stuff won’t keep him young, so I want a limit to keep the archives from getting out of control.

Step Four- What is he not quite ready for? There are some toys, just like clothes, that are meant for a bub further along. Those are going to go into the toyboxes upstairs in his room, where he spends less time but has pulled a number of favorites out of.

Step Five- What’s left? Time to get honest. If I can’t justify keeping it with a GOOD reason (and keeping it for the next baby can only be a good reason so many times), it’s time to make the donate pile. My goal is to shave off at least a quarter, better a third, of the toys to share with other kids who might need them.

I finished this plan, and I would say about a quarter (??) of his toys went up on Buy Nothing (have you joined one yet? DO IT. It will change your life) and some will head to Goodwill. Another quarter went into storage, and all of the toys are contained again! Woot! 

I have had and seen a few other great ideas for toys and how to approach toy collections more ethically (and minimally).

-        Buy or get things used- don’t just donate toys, go in the store and find toys to use. I am not sure anyone ever needs to buy a new matchbox car or Lamaze toy, because we see them everywhere. A quick trip to the laundry machine or wash gets them ready to go again. Thinking of toys as borrowed rather than long term possessions might help the pile up.

-        Sparkbox! My dad got this as The Bub’s gift for Christmas, and I think it is GENIUS. You subscribe to the box and then borrow toys at the correct developmental level, and send them back when they are out of use (like Netflix for toys). If your kid gets super-attached, you can buy the toy for a discounted price. I love this idea so much, and I will let you know how it goes.

-        Do a reverse advent calendar- Rather than just giving your children toys at Christmas time, why not make it a season of giving by having them contribute to a box like this one? They could actually give up toys during the Christmas season! I love this idea and I think we will try it next year.

More ideas?


Do you have a method for keeping toys in check? How much do you keep for sentimental reasons?  How do you teach your child generosity, gratefulness, and that material possessions aren’t everything? Is it even possible? 

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