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Too many toys!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone! I haven't posted in this forum before, but I need some advice. We are currently a family of four, soon to be five, living in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment. We will hopefully be moving this Spring after the baby comes, but I figured I'd take the next couple months and de clutter, so we're starting over fresh in the new place. It is VERY cluttered in here right now. My question is regarding my girls' toys. They have a lot of plastic toys that I think are pretty junky. Lots of little bits of things that go with barbies, different plastic playsets and houses.. you get the idea. I'd love to be able to get rid of some (or all) of this stuff, and replace it with a few pieces that are of better quality (for example, a wooden dollhouse instead of the five plastic my little pony houses we have now @@). 

The thing is, my girls play with this stuff. I don't want to scar them by throwing their toys away, lol! I've sorted through a lot of stuffed animals and smaller toys and gotten rid  of a lot, and they haven't noticed, but this other stuff is bugging me now, and it's stuff they're more likely to notice is gone. How would you go about decluttering this stuff? Do I just get rid of a couple things? Maybe put things up in a closet and see if they miss it? Leave the stuff alone and try to find other ways of making the house more livable? Their stuff is ALL over the apartment, partially because they are homeschooled and i don't have one space big enough to keep all those supplies, but also because they just have tons of STUFF. Aaaah!


Lol! So as you can see, I could really use some words of wisdom here. I don't really know where to start. Thank you!

post #2 of 15

My analogy has to do with food. I introduced my son to dairy, french fries, and pizza pretzels from the drive-thru. Our daughter is on a restricted diet so can't have any of those things and it's great. I wish I'd done that with my son. Thing is, I didn't. I gave him the stuff and he likes it. Although he now gets it in much lesser amounts, I can't just take it away from him. It's what he likes. So most of the time when he asks for that I say no, but I have to say Yes as well.


So, you let your daughters have this and they like it. Taking it away from them would be mean. (The stuff they didn't play with is no biggie.)


However, I understand about the clutter. We're a family of 4 in 900 sf except we have a basement so it's not quite the same.


We recently moved most of their toys downstairs. They don't go down there much unless a friend is visiting and they don't seem to miss the toys. However, when they do go down some of the stuff migrates upstairs.


I would recommend organizing what you have. We have this bin http://www.amazon.com/Tot-Tutors-Organizer-Primary-Colors/dp/B000067PTO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1321242549&sr=8-4 The toys are visible, organized, and off the floor. The bins are plastic. I got it off craigslist for $20. They sell another set with cloth bins but it's not as well reviewed.


Or maybe a dresser of some sort (I got one for $5 at a yard sale for all the costumes and dress up stuff.) For our firetrucks and stuff I have a big plastic box with lid for all the firetrucks and a smaller one that goes inside for the people, axes, fire extinguishers, etc.


Once it's well organized, guide your kids into maintaining that. And see what happens. 

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

i've been working on organizing what they do have. it does look a lot better, they just have SO MUCH. lol. or maybe it just seems like a ton in our little place. if each girl had a room to put the stuff in, it would all be contained, but they share this one tiny room. i think i'll weed out what they don't care about and go from there. i think my older dd would even help me get rid of stuff. hmmm.

post #4 of 15

Originally Posted by inky leeuhhh View Post

 i think my older dd would even help me get rid of stuff. hmmm.

I once asked my son if there were any toys that he wanted to give to other kids that didn't have toys. He only chose one or two, but at least that was something. Maybe your daughter will choose more to give.


post #5 of 15
If you celebrate Christmas or any other gift-giving holiday this winter, maybe you could take advantage of that? Let them know that "we need to clear out space to make room for new toys from Santa" or "we are going to donate some of your old toys so that kids who don't have much money will be able to have toys for Christmas." Would they be receptive to that?

How are the toys stored/organized? Shelves/bins/boxes? If you don't have a system yet, decide on one, and introduce it to your kids. Explain that all the toys need to fit on these 2 shelves and they can decide which toys to put in there, and there will be one empty shelf so there will be room for their Christmas gifts.

It's way easier with younger kids, and I have made DS a part of toy decluttering since he was under a year old, so he doesn't balk at it (yet!) I don't think you can go behind their back with older kids, you need to somehow include them. Figure out what motivates them most -- donating to others, or going to the store to pick out a new replacement toy for every 10 toys they get rid of, or having extra space in the living room to make forts -- something will likely be exciting enough to them that they'll be willing to participate!
post #6 of 15

Save some.Bag many and hold.I got rid of lots of barbie stuff.DD is fine.Like you said it is plastic junk. I can't believe all the junk I dragged from house to house.Purge now before the move.Give each child a small bin with lid,and let them fill it with keep toys.The rest is free game to toss.


Get them on board to donate toys to a animal shelter garage sale.Kids love helping animals.

post #7 of 15

I occasionally buy toys from my kids to help keep down the clutter.  $1 per stuffed animal, maybe $2 or $3 for something expensive, and $0.10 for tiny junk toys.  This really helps keep down the number of stuffed animals.  They can spend their money on something at the consignment store.  It is usually one "new" thing per 10 or 20 things gone.  They don't get an allowance yet so this is how they get money.


I used a different strategy when they were a little younger.  At one point I could not walk in their rooms without stepping on something.  I filled two large plastic bins with toys that I did not think that they really played with or I thought was junk.  I did not even sort - everything went in - even trash.  I told them I would keep the bins for 2 months and if they did not ask for something that was in the bins, I was going to get rid of all of it.  One dd asked for a little plastic mermaid they she played with in the tub and I dug it out and gave it back to her.  After 2 months, I sorted into trash/goodwill/consign.



post #8 of 15

Great ideas!  I'm hoping to get my nearly three-year-old on board with the 1-in-1-out rule that we have in our house.  So far, I've been thinning her toys without her knowing.  I like the idea of making more room, and I'm also not above buying toys from my kids once they're old enough to appreciate the cash.  I think my dd would be happy to give to kids who don't have toys too.  Thanks for the ideas!

post #9 of 15

I'm right there with you, sister, but I say get rid of half.  

Keep the best and get rid of the rest.  

How can they play with the good stuff, if they can't find it because it's buried by clutter?  Putting it all in bins is a mistake.  Then it's just buried inside a container.  It is NOT a blessing, to have more than enough, it's a self-inflicted curse - but at least you can bless someone else who has less than enough (Salvation Army, Purple Heart, etc).

How to decide how much is enough? This post helped me get started figuring that out.  But this post about why fewer toys actually helps kids, spoke to my beleaguered soul.


We have done this to ourselves, people.  Overwhelmed our kids and ourselves with too much and too many.


And in the long run, I worry my kids are learning that I care more about stuff than about them.  (Look at this mess! Clean your room! Pick this up! Where did you lose that?! etc.) 

And I should have spent our spending money on experiences instead of things! Argh!


post #10 of 15

Maybe I'm just a mean mommy mischievous.gif but I would seriously GET RID OF STUFF. Period. Ask them to pick 1 item to keep out of every 2 you place in front of them and you will effectively cut your stash in half. Lather, rinse, repeat. Absolutely keep the favorites (I think you will easily know which ones these are) and pack the rest up and bless someone else with your clutter. No amount of storage would help the dusting, the organizing/shuffling around and the constant packing of the same tiresome stuff day in day out. It may all look prettier sitting in containers, but the work it needs in maintaining it, is still there.. That aint going anywhere.


I have four lovely kiddos and we're a homeschooling family and we have about the same amount of toys for four children, as what one average child does.


We decided to stick with the classics:


Wooden blocks

One furnished dollhouse

One wooden play kitchen with play food

One favourite doll and plush each


Family board games/puzzles

Craft stuff (paper/embellishments/paint/pencils etc)


It wasn't easy to rid of stuff at first but as the 2 years have gone by, I've talked to my kids a lot about the impact stuff has on our environment (and the chemicals lurking in most of the pretty toys on the shelf), about how being greedy and hoarding things helps no one but ourselves and about how when we don't have to spend an hour a day maintaining our stuff, we have that free time to do other things (like dance around). Even though they are young, believe me, they get it. thumb.gif They happily parted with a fair amount of stuff this weekend (including a lot of packed toys that we just uncovered) and want to deliver it to the children's hospital themselves.

post #11 of 15

My younger daughter particularly has a hard time letting things go, but she plays with this junk.   She even had a game for plastic shards from a game container, and was upset when I threw it away!  But it's getting better.


I was very attached to stuff when I was a kid, so I've been very careful and respectful about the toys they play with.  First, I needed to set aside all value judgment about the toys.  Fact:  the gorgeous Kathy Kruse dollhouse dolls I spent loads on and they played with briefly are not their favorites and neither is the particular wooden dollhouse I bought them.  A few things I keep anyway because I think they are cool, but in general I have to suck it up and let some of those go along with others.


We have kept things packed in closets, sort of on a trial basis.  From those boxes I can tell which I can let go and those which need more time.  I put the giveaways in a collection box and hang on to it for a while longer.


Moving, we needed to accelerate the process.  It wasn't the little crappy scrappy plastic toys that needed to go, it was the big stuff that never got played with:  kitchen set, barns, duplo bag.  Finally my youngest was able to pick out some stuffed animals (which multiply even though I never buy them) to give away.  She only picked a few, but it was significant that she did this.  On her 3rd bicycle, she is finally agreeing to let go of her radio flyer tricycle.  She even wanted to keep the jog stroller we no longer used because they used to play with it, but we gave it to her little cousin and she was happy with that.


Again, I won't make value judgments on their toys.  Like your girls, some of their favorite toys are some of the scrappiest, cheesiest toys (I won't even get started on the feathers and rocks) and not the "few, good quality toys" that they play with only occasionally.

post #12 of 15
I also have kids that dont always prefer the "nicer side of toy". My oldest has flat out told me she likes her cheap plastic toy houses over the nice wooden doll house (that I really want!)

I would also caution going from several to one of an item when you have several kids.

Don't forget playdates, where several of a type is nice
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

My younger daughter particularly has a hard time letting things go, but she plays with this junk.   She even had a game for plastic shards from a game container, and was upset when I threw it away!  But it's getting better.


Again, I won't make value judgments on their toys.  Like your girls, some of their favorite toys are some of the scrappiest, cheesiest toys (I won't even get started on the feathers and rocks) and not the "few, good quality toys" that they play with only occasionally.


I cannot possibly convey how much I understand both sentences.  DS's most cherished toys are the cheapest of the cheap plastic junk that my dad bought for him.  When I try to discuss the possibility of getting rid of the broken bits and pieces, I get a lecture about recycling, seeing the possibilities in everything, "even simple things can be fun" and so on.  How do I reason with him?  He actually repurposes his broken bits and pieces into accessories for other toys.


The feathers make me want to weep.  He picks up every feather he finds (we spend a lot of time in the woods) and tapes them to hats, other toys and so on.  I now have a pathetic looking bag that he is begging to turn into Christmas tree ornanments.


My DH is a big part of the problem, he is the toy buyer.  We will be having a very serious conversation about Christmas.

post #14 of 15

IDK how much our situation is helpful, but we were a family of 5 living in 900 square ft with 2 bedrooms until last year. Now we will be 6 living in 1200 sq ft with 3 bedrooms. Since I have never put a limit on how many toys/books/games/puzzles/crafts come into the house, I *have to* declutter the kids stuff constantly, so they are used to it. They actually ask if we can go through toys and get rid of stuff! I always emphasize how nice it is to be able to:


have *space* to play

clean up the whole house/room in just a few minutes (including putting stuff back where it actually goes)

bless other kids with our little-used toys

make room for a more "special" or "exciting" toy

find things they are looking for

look around at a relaxing and peaceful home


I just did a *MAJOR* kids stuff declutter, as I'm in nesting mode, and we're remodeling our house so it has been extra clean and clear and it feels SO SO good! This is what the kids are left with, and we will be getting rid of more. Also, this list doesn't include our puzzles, books and craft stuff. We also homeschool so there's all that stuff too.


Toys out (they play with all of this stuff everyday):


1 large basket Trio blocks

1 large box Legos

1 basket per each child of "their" toys: 1 doll, and dress-up stuff and little toys specific to that child

1 small basket wooden animals

6 or so wooden cars/helicopter etc


Music shelf: rain stick, drum, xylophone, harmonicas etc


Toys packed away for rotation (which I'm also seriously considering getting rid of):


wooden buildable (Waldorfish) dollhouse

1 large box stuffed animals

1 large box misc tracks and toys

small basket Potato Heads


We all still want to pare down even more. My oldest (6 yo dd) has Aspergers and she loves only having a little bit to care for. Also, I wanted to add that my best friend has 4 kids (ages 10 to 3), and we had them over for dinner after the major declutter. The only toys that were out was the large basket of Trios and a small basket of misc toys. That's it! All the kids had fun, there was no fighting, no asking for more toys. So I would caution against keeping stuff "just in case" of a playdate if space is at a premium.


Legos are the favorite toy around here and don't take up much room, so I have just instituted a new rule of Legos being the main toy be buy for the kids and the toy we direct family/friends to buy if they want to get the kids something. The only toy that I do plan on adding to the mix and am saving for is a really nice Waldorf-ish wood kitchen.


Anyways, all this to say, just get your kids *really* excited about having space to play and then "gifting" them with something really big and cool for getting rid of plasticky junk might be a good way to get started on the decluttering train. I would even have the gift waiting in the wings, and then bust it out when the room is clear!


I also was reading some really old decluttering threads on MDC and one mama said she paid her kids for getting rid of toys, $0.25 to couple bucks depending on the toy. I'm not sure that would work for everyone, but she said for her kids that was the trick to help them get rid of junk they previously couldn't let go of. Then they would purchase something more lasting, or go on an outing.

post #15 of 15

Great post, Thyme Mama!  


I see that I posted on this thread eons ago, back when I could still cull through my daughter's toys without her knowing.  She's well aware now, and is happy to participate.  I have to be careful when I invite her to "pick a few things to give away to kids who don't have toys" because she sometimes picks things that *I'm* attached to!  

We have a very small space, and two kids now.  Our extended family is great about not giving us an overabundance of things, thank goodness.  We started that from before our kids were even born.  We told everyone that we appreciated the gesture, but that our space was just too small to accommodate new toys for every occasion.  So now the grandparents are pretty good about giving us things like memberships and clothes that we need, and small thoughtful items rather than big toys.

As a result (I think) both our kids are happy with what little we do have.  They take good care of their things, and know where everything goes.  We can clean up quickly, and can almost always find exactly what we're looking for.  

We're homeschooling too, so that is going to be the next thing to think about as our kids get older.  I've designated one cupboard for HS supplies.  We'll see if I can stick to it!

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