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Hard-Core toy declutterers, come help me!

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Alright, I really want the most ruthless of you to give me your answers! And I really appreciate the input, even before there's been any! I just need some ideas to toss around in my head!

My kids don't play with toys very much, and they're just as happy doing housework or playing with a spoon or something as they are toys. So when you're cutting back, how far do you go? I mean, honestly, do you keep only toys that get played with on a daily basis? A weekly basis? What about the toys that get played with a few times a month?

I don't really like the idea of rotating toys. I know which toys come and go in their interests (kitchen stuff, for example) and I'm willing to just wait it out until the next "interested" period comes along. For the most part, I feel like if I have to put toys away and pull them back out to make them interesting, it's just not that good of a toy. It's a toy that's only interesting when it's new, and I'm not really happy to have that kind of toy around. (I kind of feel that way about toys that are only interesting when they make lights and sounds...sometimes that's integral to the toy, and sometimes it's the only thing making a toy interesting, if you know what I mean.) DS will play with anything for the first 15 minutes it comes out of storage. And then it will never get played with again. He does have toys that he plays with every single day and never gets tired of, so I know that they exist! DD so far is pickier, she won't play with anything at all unless she loves it, new or old.

Oh, and I can't put everything away and see what DS asks for, because if he can't see it, he'll never play with it. Can't use a toy box, or solid baskets, or anything. Pictures on the outside of boxes help a little bit. If it's out of sight, it's out of mind, pretty much. I can think of two or three things that don't apply to that, but it's how he's always been since he was a tiny baby! If I put away everything, he would never ask for anything other than a few small beloved things (a couple specific action figures, and a few other things he considers his "treasures"...it could all fit in a shoe box with extra room!)

I am going to keep a small box of toys in the closet "for a rainy day"...mostly open ended stuff that is too overwhelming when out (we have a boatload of blocks and megabloks) or stuff they might grow into (cars and trains, for example), but I don't want that box to get too big.

So where do you draw the line? What's your particular set of "rules" for the toy de-clutter? Thanks!
post #2 of 32
I don't really have any ideas for you as I was just about to come here and post almost this EXACT same thread. I will be keeping an eye out for others ideas tho... my only thought so far has been to get rid of anything broken, which I did. Then I put away small pieces of things that they are too young for now, like.. I am not into rotating toys either but my boys are almost 1 and 2 and they love their trains but aren't quite old enough for the signs and trees and people that they have for it.
post #3 of 32
I just did a major decluttering of toys and I plan to go back and do some more because as I look around, I still feel like we have way too much!

I kept things they use within 1-2 weeks time or things that I thought they would grow into (hand-me-downs from older siblings) and pack those away. I also kept specific seasonal toys (sand toys, kites, outdoor stuff...). I tried to keep anything open-ended and got rid of most of the one-use-only stuff!
post #4 of 32
Lexmas-I think you already answered your question-keep the toys that they play with on a weekly to monthly basis. I have gotten rid of half our toys, anything junky (I hate flashing lights, noise makers), anything broken or mismatched.

I do keep some toys that aren't played with that often if they are a learning toy that I think is a skill they should have-like strings and beads, DS plays with them maybe once a month (he's 4, DD is 1), there are puppet toys DS has never touched, but they are really cool animals and I am hoping that DD will get into them. I have noticed that since we have less toys DS is more creative with whatever he has.

I do rotate toys, because there are rainy days that we are stuck inside and it's always great to have something up my sleeve. I have 'hidden' them in closets that its ok for DS to go into and he thinks it is fun to 'discover' what I have hidden away.

I am not as hardcore as some, but we have few enough toys out that it takes only 5 minutes to clean each room that has toys and DS is capable of cleaning up the toys by himself, though we most often help. Our outside toys are less managed because I don't want to spend $$ on one of those plastic containers and the toys out there are bulky.
post #5 of 32
we have the same issue here, my kids are young so they aren't into building toys or smaller toys yet but as of now they could care less about toys. my ds just wants whatever his big sister has - and its usually not a toy
post #6 of 32
i don't have rules, but if i did have toys to declutter and my little one was too young to do it himself, i would keep what he uses and loves the most and remove the rest. you can always build back up with birthdays and holidays after that if need be.

my guy has very little (more than a shoebox though) and plays with all of it, and i'm careful what i bring in. he has a whole drawer full of plastic bins--such as old yogurt containers, juice bottles and the like--that he really enjoys. LOL free toys!
post #7 of 32
Toys is such a hard one!

I have at times thrown out heaps when the kids were at school then had one of my daughters upset about the fact I had got rid of a particular toy..

So with my youngest (currently 8) I changed tactics and tried going through the toys with him...he seems to know exactly which ones he wants and doesn't want.

However he still has toys that he says he wants, and yet I don't see him playing with them.....hmmm, will have to have another go at encouraging him to get rid of some more.
post #8 of 32
I recently went through this when we decided to turn the playroom into an office/guestroom. I found myself going through toys thinking "oh I can't get rid of this or that or this..because they still play with these" then I had one of those aha moments. When we are at the doctors office waiting or wherever, my kids create toys- magazine inserts become houses and coins from my purse are people (you get the idea). Having fewer toys requires them to be more creative and they will always find stuff to play with.
So we decided to let each kid keep 4 categories of toys and everything else went to goodwill. For my dd that was dressups, tea party, books and stuffies. For my son that was legos, books, star wars and games. They have easels on the back patio for art. Now all their toys fit in their bedroom and hardly take up any space. It is sooooo nice!

Our pediatrician says the only toys a kid needs are sunscreen and bugspray. We are not quite there yet, but it is a nice idea.
post #9 of 32
I just went through all of dd's toys, and bagged up all the infant toys she hasn't played with in a while. I'm keeping them for the new baby. Then, I picked up all the little "accessory" pieces that she doesnt use, and tossed those in the bag, too. Then I picked out any other toys that I haven't seen her interested in for a while, and tossed those in the bag. I ended up completely emptying one of her plastic toy bins (those big storage bins). She still has one bin downstairs in the living room, plus her trike, easle, and megablocks and megablocks wagon, and books. Upstairs, she has two small bins, her other trike, ball bin, and a few more books. It does sound like a lot now that it's all written out, but everything has a place. I'd like to get a toy shelf, with clear platic bins on it, so she can quickly see what toys she has. Her dragons and her cars are her favorites, but they are small and relatively heavy, so they always end up at the bottom of the bin, where she forgets about them.
post #10 of 32
I need to do this too, but it's hard b/c my older DD DOES play with 99% of what she has. My DH and dad say she has too many stuffed animals, but she plays with and sleeps with all of them on a daily basis. I have no idea where to start and our house is too small to rotate toys b/c I have no where to store them in the meantime.
post #11 of 32
I had a huge stuffed animal / doll collection when I was a kid. I ended up getting some clothesline strung from the floor to ceiling (using eyehooks, if I remember correctly, to make it taunt) and then clipped all the toys to the line with clothespins. It kept them off the ground, and I could see all of them. Would that work for your DD?
post #12 of 32
we are working on this too. this is what we have for dd age 3 and ds age 18 months:

wooden trains/track - love these, use daily
unit blocks - love thse, use daily
baby dolls/cradle/stroller - love these, use daily
cars and balls - love these, use daily
kitchen/food/dishes - love these, use daily
crayons and notebook - love these, draw daily
books - love these, use daily (but we have a very limited collection...only the BEST)

play dough, lacing toys, puzzles - use weekly
wooden doll house/dolls/furniture - use weekly
dress up clothes - use weekly
simple games - use weekly

tent, bicycles, big balls - use whenever outside or in basement
sand box, bubbles, balls - play with outside
post #13 of 32
i say, keep only what they use on a very regular basis. but also limit the total amount of stuff, based on your space. kids just don't need that much...i know we have too much. but we have very generous fmaily who have bought beautiful wooden, quality toys...so i hesitate to get rid of much more, at this point.
post #14 of 32
Start small with any broken or incomplete(lost parts).

Then take notes on what they do play with.

Good luck.
post #15 of 32
I agree that the best thing is to take note of the things your kiddos play with on a regular basis. I have often boxed up many toys, then give the kids so many weeks/month(s) and if they do not ask for them after so long, the toys go away...many times unbeknownst to my babies.

FoxInTheSnow, I LOVE your idea of 4 categories! Perfect!

For us it has gotten easier with DS with age - he is now 7 and this weekend we went through all of his things together. He basically kept Bakugan, workbooks (for summer and even when he gets bored in the early AM or before bed), a select few spy toys, 1 medium-sized tub of Legos, his Nerf foam shooter, books, and games. Our issue is games - we have A TON between both kids and our own...however, they are super for our kids' ages, great for learning, family game night, and play dates, so for the moment, they stay.

DD is 4.5 and has her dolls (and tons of clothes and some furniture - 18" variety, so that eats most of her space), a shoebox of Barbies and mini American girl dolls, a basket of homemade Barbie furniture we fashioned out of recyclables, books, dress-up...so much!

Now we have #3 (a boy!) on the way and are starting from scratch with him, which is pretty exciting to me - I plan to begin things very anti-clutter and add toys in a very concise, purposeful way, rather than buy willy nilly.
post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chely7425 View Post
I am not into rotating toys either but my boys are almost 1 and 2 and they love their trains but aren't quite old enough for the signs and trees and people that they have for it.
I did this same thing before, when DS played with his trains! I actually think bunches of his toys are too old for him, so I'm putting them away and I'll probably just re-gift (can you re-gift someone their own stuff? ) to him later. He's three, so he won't remember that he had it before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kindermama View Post
I kept things they use within 1-2 weeks time or things that I thought they would grow into (hand-me-downs from older siblings) and pack those away.
Thanks for the timeframe! Isn't it crazy how you can get rid of so much and still have too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Punchy Kaby View Post
I do keep some toys that aren't played with that often if they are a learning toy that I think is a skill they should have-like strings and beads, DS plays with them maybe once a month (he's 4, DD is 1), there are puppet toys DS has never touched, but they are really cool animals and I am hoping that DD will get into them. I have noticed that since we have less toys DS is more creative with whatever he has.

Our outside toys are less managed because I don't want to spend $$ on one of those plastic containers and the toys out there are bulky.
Funny you should mention lacing beads, that's one of the toys that he doesn't play with but I feel like he should, and it bothers me a little. Maybe DD will like them when she gets bigger. Oh, and our outside toys are a clutter because if they would play with it occasionally or it's big or bulky or some plastic monstrosity I just declare it an "outside toy". Keeps them from getting bored and doesn't clutter up my house. We have a shed in the backyard and the clutter doesn't bother me out there. Not yet, anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lookatreestar View Post
my ds just wants whatever his big sister has - and its usually not a toy
LOL...I know this oh so well!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
i don't have rules, but if i did have toys to declutter and my little one was too young to do it himself, i would keep what he uses and loves the most and remove the rest. you can always build back up with birthdays and holidays after that if need be.

my guy has very little (more than a shoebox though) and plays with all of it, and i'm careful what i bring in. he has a whole drawer full of plastic bins--such as old yogurt containers, juice bottles and the like--that he really enjoys. LOL free toys!
DS is doing a pretty good job picking some things to give away, which, at 3.5 I'm impressed he'll pick anything. I am defin definitely ately going to be more careful with what I bring in from now on. I try and get relatives and friends to get things that will get used up like art supplies, with varied success. We also have a shelf of containers and that's probably what gets played with the most, they sort and pack and carry things around all day!

Quote:
Originally Posted by clutterwarrior View Post
I have at times thrown out heaps when the kids were at school then had one of my daughters upset about the fact I had got rid of a particular toy..

However he still has toys that he says he wants, and yet I don't see him playing with them.....hmmm, will have to have another go at encouraging him to get rid of some more.
DS has a steel trap of a memory, but when he's noticed things are gone I just tell him we gave them away to kids that don't have toys and he hasn't gotten upset about it yet. He's asked a few times, but no real reaction, and he's pretty wildly emotional (Don't know who he got that from...haha ) so it's a good sign. If I let him pick completely he'd just want to keep everything, just to have it, not to play with it. My dad was a bit of a hoarder and he seems to have inherited that lovely trait.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxintheSnow View Post
then I had one of those aha moments. When we are at the doctors office waiting or wherever, my kids create toys- magazine inserts become houses and coins from my purse are people (you get the idea). Having fewer toys requires them to be more creative and they will always find stuff to play with.

So we decided to let each kid keep 4 categories of toys and everything else went to goodwill. For my dd that was dressups, tea party, books and stuffies. For my son that was legos, books, star wars and games. They have easels on the back patio for art. Now all their toys fit in their bedroom and hardly take up any space. It is sooooo nice!

Our pediatrician says the only toys a kid needs are sunscreen and bugspray. We are not quite there yet, but it is a nice idea.
You are very right about the fewer toys thing. I'm much more attached to the toys than he is. I just keep picking through things again and again getting rid of more and more!

I like the categories idea, and I wish DS played like that. His most beloved things aren't so much in categories unless "random crap" is a category. LOL. I am trying to give myself space guidelines, like today I went through his cars (mostly unused, but not something I'm ready to part with) and put them in a little box (an old wipes container, actually), and only kept enough to fit in that box. It made it much easier.

And I love that idea. Although, since it's winter most of the year here, it's not entirely applicable. It snowed on Mother's Day! Add a snowsuit to that list, and it's my dream!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtRoadMama View Post
I just went through all of dd's toys, and bagged up all the infant toys she hasn't played with in a while. I'm keeping them for the new baby. Then, I picked up all the little "accessory" pieces that she doesnt use, and tossed those in the bag, too. Then I picked out any other toys that I haven't seen her interested in for a while, and tossed those in the bag. I ended up completely emptying one of her plastic toy bins (those big storage bins). She still has one bin downstairs in the living room, plus her trike, easle, and megablocks and megablocks wagon, and books. Upstairs, she has two small bins, her other trike, ball bin, and a few more books. It does sound like a lot now that it's all written out, but everything has a place. I'd like to get a toy shelf, with clear platic bins on it, so she can quickly see what toys she has. Her dragons and her cars are her favorites, but they are small and relatively heavy, so they always end up at the bottom of the bin, where she forgets about them.
Thanks for sharing your method! It's so helpful to me to read how everyone does it. I need a tutorial!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miasmamma View Post
I need to do this too, but it's hard b/c my older DD DOES play with 99% of what she has. My DH and dad say she has too many stuffed animals, but she plays with and sleeps with all of them on a daily basis. I have no idea where to start and our house is too small to rotate toys b/c I have no where to store them in the meantime.
I would think it would be much harder if everything was played with! It's hard enough when most of it is just abandoned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abharrington View Post
we are working on this too. this is what we have for dd age 3 and ds age 18 months:

wooden trains/track - love these, use daily
unit blocks - love thse, use daily
baby dolls/cradle/stroller - love these, use daily
cars and balls - love these, use daily
kitchen/food/dishes - love these, use daily
crayons and notebook - love these, draw daily
books - love these, use daily (but we have a very limited collection...only the BEST)

play dough, lacing toys, puzzles - use weekly
wooden doll house/dolls/furniture - use weekly
dress up clothes - use weekly
simple games - use weekly

tent, bicycles, big balls - use whenever outside or in basement
sand box, bubbles, balls - play with outside
Thank you for the list! It's so helpful to have it all spelled out. You actually really helped me because I was so torn about keeping the lacing beads, and I just put them in the box with the games, and problem solved. When we get some new stuff for the games and puzzles box, then they might be the first thing to go, but for now they have a place and that helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abharrington View Post
i say, keep only what they use on a very regular basis. but also limit the total amount of stuff, based on your space. kids just don't need that much...i know we have too much. but we have very generous fmaily who have bought beautiful wooden, quality toys...so i hesitate to get rid of much more, at this point.
Don't worry, if I keep only what's used on a very regular basis, it will look like we don't have kids here at all, it's not a space issue! What's really used most is arts and crafts stuff, and workbooks and that sort of thing. The toys sit unused.

Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
Start small with any broken or incomplete(lost parts).

Then take notes on what they do play with.

Good luck.
Thank you! The note taking has begun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by justmeandmybrood View Post
I agree that the best thing is to take note of the things your kiddos play with on a regular basis. I have often boxed up many toys, then give the kids so many weeks/month(s) and if they do not ask for them after so long, the toys go away...many times unbeknownst to my babies.

For us it has gotten easier with DS with age - he is now 7 and this weekend we went through all of his things together. He basically kept Bakugan, workbooks (for summer and even when he gets bored in the early AM or before bed), a select few spy toys, 1 medium-sized tub of Legos, his Nerf foam shooter, books, and games. Our issue is games - we have A TON between both kids and our own...however, they are super for our kids' ages, great for learning, family game night, and play dates, so for the moment, they stay.

DD is 4.5 and has her dolls (and tons of clothes and some furniture - 18" variety, so that eats most of her space), a shoebox of Barbies and mini American girl dolls, a basket of homemade Barbie furniture we fashioned out of recyclables, books, dress-up...so much!

Now we have #3 (a boy!) on the way and are starting from scratch with him, which is pretty exciting to me - I plan to begin things very anti-clutter and add toys in a very concise, purposeful way, rather than buy willy nilly.
I'm glad to hear it's gotten easier as they've gotten older! And I've been so hesitant to get rid of the baby stuff (we're hoping to have one more, in 8-10 years...I have difficult pregnancies and am not looking forward to doing it again, it will take that long to convince myself! So I've been very torn about what to keep for that long.) but starting over sounds so wonderful, to only have as much as you need, and all quality stuff. I think you may have inspired a baby stuff de-clutter!

Thanks again to everyone for such wonderful ideas!
post #17 of 32
I'm struggling with this too. I'd love to get rid of almost all of it, except what he very regularly plays with. The problem I stuggle with is that most everything is gifts (especially from MIL). She way over bought at Christmas and DS's birthday, and sends a box to us almost once a month. I feel bad getting rid of things that others have given him. And MIL remembers EVERYTHING that she get him and WILL ask about it if she doesn't see it when they come down to visit. Her home is SO cluttered and full of stuff that my nephew (who lives with them) never plays with, it lines every wall of every room in the house.

I also get angry at myself because I feel like I'm allowing others to unknowingly dictate to me what I have in my house. Its frustrating too because I've never had a problem getting rid of stuff.

Sorry, not trying to hijack, OP, just comiserating.
post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 
No hijack, certainly! I have issues with things my family gave as well, but I think I'm starting to get rid of it, just because I really don't want other people dictating what we have. I make a list every year for holidays and birthdays and no one ever follows it. I'm not even sure I will make one next year, because they ask for one and never use it, which is incredibly frustrating to me! It's hard, not wanting to hurt their feelings, but I'm trying to teach DS that it's so nice that people thought of him, and that it's about the thought and not the gift itself. Hopefully that works, at least a little!
post #19 of 32
http://wildparenting.blogspot.com/20...tame-toys.html

I love this blog post on this exact topic. We're not there yet, but it gives clear guidelines re: how to think about toy decluttering, and focuses on keeping 'engaging' toys rather than those that simply entertain or distract. Her tips include anything plastic goes, anything battery-operated goes, anything with a single purpose goes. YMMV! Hope this provides some inspiration!
post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 
SaraCate- Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this link!
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