What is the secret to easily organise and declutter children’s toys?
Well, in our experience, the secret is to involve your children in the entire process. Even from a young age children can make decisions about which toys are important to them, whether they want to re-home a toy and even be responsible for regular tidying. Sound too good to be true? Read on for our 5 easy ways to teach your children how to organise and declutter toys (and keep them that way)!
How to organise and declutter children’s toys
1. Enable decision-making
Empower your children to make their own decisions about toys. Set aside time for you to go through toys together and think about whether they still want them. If they are not sure, or you can’t agree, suggest that you put the toy into ‘time-out’ for a set period (a week/month for example). During this time the toy will be put away safely and unable to be played with. Once this time is up, take the toy out and consider it again. If your child wanted to play with the toy while it was in time out, they may decide to keep it for now. Alternatively, they may not have thought about the toy at all and now be happy to donate or sell it. If they’re still unsure, give the toy another time out and reconsider after this.
This ‘toy time out’ process will reassure your child that you won’t get rid of any toys without consulting and agreeing with them first. It also encourages a lifelong habit of decluttering and letting go of anything that no longer serves them.
2. Declutter regularly
The sheer number of children’s toys can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t declutter regularly. We suggest that you regularly reassess and clear out toys together with your children. The ideal times to do this are twice a year, around their birthday and just before Christmas. These are of course when your child will be gifted lots of exciting new toys and will need to make space. Making decluttering a regular habit will benefit your whole family. Clutter is overstimulating and can create stress in both children and adults. For this reason, decluttering is an important life skill to teach your children.
Equally important is to teach your children that they are not obliged to keep anything. For example, if they have been gifted something that they do not want, or is a duplicate of something they already have, encourage them to donate or re-gift that item. This way they can share the joy with another child.
How can I help my children declutter their toys?
- Set aside time so that you can focus fully on the task at hand without distractions.
- Get prepared. Have bin bags and boxes for donation at the ready.
- Include regular breaks. Children will need regular rests from decision-making and decluttering, so it might be best to take on this task over a few days, rather than all at once. If you are attempting a marathon declutter with older children, include fuel-stops to avoid any hanger-induced episodes!
- Choose one area or category at a time to focus on. This makes it easier for children to choose which toys to keep and which to get rid of. For example, start with soft toys, books or bricks and blocks.
- You may find that your children have outgrown a particular type of toy and are happy to let it go. If not, try the ‘toy time out’ strategy detailed above.
- Perhaps your children no longer play with a toy, but are still reluctant to give it up. It may help to remind them that by donating toys other children will get to play with, love and enjoy them. Perhaps give Toy Story 3 a watch together and show them how happy Bonnie is when Andy gifts Buzz, Jessie, Woody and the others to her (see clip below).
- Agree with your children what will happen to unwanted items (see below for incentives and ideas).
- After ‘editing’ all the toys, make time to organise and store all the remaining items. Look at our storage solutions below for simple suggestions to keep things neat and tidy.
- Set a date for the next toy edit. Now you’re on a roll, make a date with your children to declutter again on a particular date. This will mean that you keep on top of the clutter and make room for new items.
- Reward yourselves! A good declutter deserves a reward. Perhaps a trip to buy your favourite doughnuts, or a movie night with takeaway pizza and popcorn. This will encourage your children to continue to declutter and organise regularly.
Let’s be real. While we love to declutter, we also realise we are in the minority and that children are unlikely to jump at the chance to edit and organise their toys. So how can we incentivise them? Well, one option is to suggest putting unwanted toys up for sale either on Ebay or via a boot fair or yard sale. Your children ‘earn’ whatever money is gained from the sales. This can then be saved or put towards something that they really want. This is a great way to encourage your children to get more involved with the entire process. For example, they may have to remake a Lego model using the instructions to check that all the pieces are there and then take photographs in order to list it for sale online.
Another way to incentivise your children is to talk to them about younger friends and cousins who might enjoy the toys that they have outgrown. Once they have given away toys once or twice and seen how happy it makes other children, they will likely be keen to do this again.
Where can I donate toys and children's books?
Remember that toys for donation should be clean and in good working order, with no missing pieces. Lego and Duplo bricks can be washed on the delicates cycle of your machine. However, be sure to put them in a sealed laundry net bag first!
4. Storage solutions
Once you’ve decluttered the toys, you’ll want to organise and keep them that way, right? Tidying should be easy for even very young children, so think about the storage in their bedroom or playroom. Can they reach to put everything away? Are drawers easy for them to open and close (are they strong enough to do this)? The more accessible you can make storage, the more likely they are to regularly use it. Low level baskets and boxes are perfect for quickly and easily tidying away stuffed toys, dressing up items etc.
Organise toys by category. Group similar items together in a way that is intuitive to your children. Consult them about this, asking which items should go where. This shelf for dolls and bears, this drawer for puzzles and games, this box for trains and track etc. If they’re likely to forget what goes where, add labels to remind them. For younger children use images rather than words to label areas.
Use clear storage containers (boxes, bins, drawers) or open shelving so that children can see all their toys. This way nothing is forgotten about and toys tend to be played with more often. If they’re on show and not being played with, this is a good sign that they are no longer needed and can be sold/donated at the next edit. Avoid anything with a lid. Life is too short to ever bother putting them back on – am I right?
Implement the Home Edit’s rainbow (AKA sort-by-colur) system. For numerous items that will be on open shelving (such as books and board games), organise by colour in a rainbow. This is a super simple, visual way for children to see what should go where. It also looks gorgeous (see image at the end of this article).
5. Make a commitment
As well as agreeing a date for the next decluttering session with your children, talk to them about how to minimise the accumulation of unwanted and unneeded toys. Can you agree on a one-in-one-out policy for example? This is an easy way to keep a handle on the total number of toys, while keeping your children firmly in control of their own collection.
When they ask to buy something new (or for you to buy another toy), say yes, but in one week. This avoids any impulse buys and means that they only acquire new toys that they really want and will appreciate.
Make tidying a daily habit. Set aside 10 minutes before bedtime to put toys away. You can make this into a game with younger children by putting on some fun music and seeing if they can get everything put away before the song ends.
So there you have it. Our top 5 tips to easily declutter children’s toys and keep them organised long- term.
Go forth and declutter!
More decluttering tips:
- Find out how decluttering can make you happier and healthier
- Learn how to conquer your crazy wardrobe clutter
- Declutter your desk for a more productive day
- Why should you declutter before you move house?
Finally, discover more tips, trends and inspiration for interiors here.