Why We Declutter Our Kid’s Toys Without Them

The first time I took my kids toys away they were 4,3 and baby [What Happened When I Took Away Half of My Kids’ Toys]

I packed up over half their toys because they doused their bedroom in baby powder. . . . twice. And I had this out of body experience where I bagged everything up, vacuumed and then put them in the tub before I went and cried in the living room.

Man, glad those days are over. Now I just cry alone in the tub and make them vacuum!

We have done the toy declutter FOR our kids a couple of times a year for the past few years now. And we don’t include them in it.

Before we get into why we do this. I should caveat what we DO keep: the toys they love the most, the toys they bought with their own money, their ‘treasures’. We also keep the bags of decluttered toys on hand for a few weeks after JUST INCASE they ask for something back (but that has yet to happen).

There are arguments that we should include our kids in this decision making, especially when it comes to their stuff. We have included our kids in the past but we don’t with these semi-annual declutterings. I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way, really do it any way you like.

We are doing the way we find most successful and that is doing it without them. Because there are so many posts on including your kids in it, I wanted to share one on reasons not to, to balance out that both options are just fine.

living room full of kids toys and bins to be decluttered

Here is why we declutter our kids’ toys without them:

They are hoarders by nature.

Maybe this is just our kids, but I kinda think many kids are of the ‘more is better’ camp. Our kids would never say no to more toys, stickers, games, random pieces of plastic in weird shapes. They can play with ANYTHING (old bandaids, broken cars, dried out pens, dolls with missing heads) so they are willing to keep ANYTHING and therefore EVERYTHING.

They are still learning what enough looks like.

Maybe this is my own childhood issue projecting onto my kids (which I’m thinking makes up  3/4 of all parenting) BUT I grew up in a very cluttered home. I didn’t know I had permission to have less. I didn’t know it was an option. I didn’t know the choices it takes to achieve that. I didn’t know that it requires discipline, and saying ‘no’ and saying ‘no more’. I want to model this for my kids by doing it myself and by keeping a standard of ‘enough’ with their possessions

They decide what to  keep, every day

Every day we ask them to clean their stuff up, and every week they clean their rooms. Each time, we ask them to throw away garbage and recycle anything they are done with. They have yet to let go of any toys but, still, they do have opportunities to practice decluttering. They still are in the practice stage on a very low impact level.  I will say that I can see a shift happening for my 7-year-old who finds he is growing out of toys. He talks about selling some or giving them to other kids. I know that we won’t be decluttering any of his stuff much longer because he is ready for it.

They are learning better instead of more

Any woman who has bought some good quality eyeshadow knows that it can last years and you get your monies worth. This is a basic life lesson that can start with toys. If our kids are surrounded by a bunch of cheap toys that break or they don’t really play with, they will get used to the consumer culture of buying more cheap stuff. It is being a good steward of the earth and of your money when you invest in less, but quality things. A step to showing this to your kids is getting rid of the cheap ‘filler’ and not having it fill up your home.

They are a lot of common toys

We don’t touch our kids’ personal toys unless they are getting out of control. Then we will try to do it with them (like the stuffie collection, or the Hotwheels overload). The bulk of the toys in the house are neutral, everyone plays with them: puzzles, puppets, legos, etc. So we take on the role of managing these toys so there aren’t three different sibling opinions interfering with this.

They need a clear space

I’ve said it before, if we are overwhelmed by our kids’ toys, then they are too. They just don’t realize what is going on or have the maturity to declutter themselves. Any time I have cleaned my kids’ rooms or playroom while they are gone they haven’t asked me where stuff has gone, they have thanked me. They were surrounded by garbage and broken stuff, and toys they didn’t really love. They needed help to clean out and start over and I think we can do that for our kids until they learn how it feels to have a clear space to be in. My oldest is seven and he is just getting into the habit of sorting and really cleaning his room. I feel that it is in his nature to be tidier, but I also see the other two following suit from making it part of our family routines and culture.


A note on the ‘toy room’

At first, we might think the solution is to put all the toys in a playroom. This won’t solve the problem. As any parent knows, toys creep. You open the fridge and BOOM toy dinosaur! You get out your curling iron and three Barbie outfits, a whistle and an old balloon fall out of your drawer. The solution to the toys-everywhere-problem won’t really ever go away (because kids play every.where), but you can reduce it by just having fewer toys.



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