Children’s toys are probably the top frustration of nearly all clients I have worked with when decluttering their homes. They seem to breed, move around of their own free will, and become lodged in furniture, behind the sofa, in the vacuum cleaner, and pretty much everywhere else.
No matter how often you try to tidy them away, they always come back with a vengeance!
Here are some of my top tips for making your house less like a toy shop and more like your home:
- have regular clear outs to prevent clutter becoming overwhelming
- gather same / similar items together – this way you can see how much of each thing you have and it is easier to decide what to let go
- designate rooms or areas (if rooms are not possible) of your house as a ‘toy free zone’ – the fewer places toys can get into, the quicker and easier it is to tidy them away again
- make sure that you have a system; e.g. shelves, wardrobe or stacking unit with a place for each type of toy (shelving with cubes or sub-dividers for smaller items which can be easily gathered at the end of day are brilliant – remember to label each cube / box so that you can see what goes where)
- try to make it a bit of a game rather than a chore – small children love the competition to see who can finish the task first!
- research has shown that children don’t need loads of toys to play with, the old favourites will always be well used; try randomly putting some away and then swapping them around – too much choice can be overwhelming, especially for small children, and you will start to see which toys can be donated, re-gifted, recycled or sold
- birthdays and Christmas are the times when parents usually feel most stressed about the volume of toys as new items arrive in the house. If you receive a duplicate or something which you know your child/ren won’t play with, don’t even let it make its way into your house: donate, re-gift, recycle or sell it before it becomes a dust-gatherer
And if your child/ren are ready to let go of some of their unused or outgrown toys, try these tips for making them part of the process:
- donating unwanted toys to a good cause can encourage them to become socially responsible – they might have a particular charity at school which they support for example (e.g. children’s hospice, doctor’s surgery etc.) – it is never too early to start!
- operate a ‘trading’ system for slightly older children: if there is a particular toy your child would like, ask them to sell some items they no longer play with. You can tot up the proceeds, and once the child has enough to spend can choose to then buy it (if it is still the current toy of choice – small children have short memories!) or put the money towards something else. This is also good for Maths and counting skills and can help them understand the real cost of their possessions (rather than knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing)
- set up a ‘wish list’ or birthday list so that you receive only presents you want, rather than things which will simply gather dust