I knew the clutter of toys around my house had become too much when I started to feel as though the only time I spoke to my children was to tell them to pick up their toys.
I was unhappy with the mess. They were unhappy because their mother was always annoyed. No one was happy. The house was an obstacle course. Something had to change, because this wasn’t how I pictured our family life.
Set a Maximum Toy Goal
So over this past summer, I decided to do something about it. I made it a goal that there would only be as many toys out as would take 5 minutes to pick up. Since we were nowhere close to my 5-minute goal, I had a lot of work to do. I knew that I would have to make the hard decisions and get rid of a lot of toys.
Reduce and Recycle the Extra
And that’s what I did. The first toys were the easiest. Anything broken or missing pieces was automatically discarded. This was also my chance to give away those toys that I was never really fond of: the toys that were too noisy or too marketing oriented.
Giving away the decent toys which were never played with was harder, but off they went anyway. I eventually whittled it down to about a third of the toys we had owned.
I kept things with good, open-ended play value and the toys which were constantly used. Since it still was not a small amount, I stored most of them and chose just one or two to have out at a time. By rotating the toys, each keeps its play value longer, and there are fewer pieces to pick-up.
The Kids’ Reaction
The burning question: What did your children think about all of this? After all, I had just given away two-thirds of their toys. But you know what? They didn’t really care. Instead of drama and tears, they started to help and were even more enthusiastic than I was. The other happy result is that there has been some real playing going on and not just the thoughtless emptying of boxes and bins and quickly moving onto something else. Life is more peaceful. I am a happier and calmer mother, and my children are happier and calmer not being over stimulated by a roomful of toys. It is much nicer to be in control of things rather than the other way around.
Related MIB articles:
Cool Outdoor Toys
Aspirations of Organization
Seven Secrets of Highly Organized Moms