I’m gonna say something scary. Hold onto your seat…
Summer break is coming.
Can you believe it? Just a few short weeks in my neck of the woods and kids will be out for summer break until the first of August.
Summer break always gets here before I know you know it! In past years when my handsome Hubby was still teaching high school, I would be counting down the days until he’d be free on break. Now that we have young children, I’m realizing the bittersweet feelings parents feel about summer vacation with their kids.
LIKE STRAWBERRY WINEEE… BITTERSWEET!
On one hand, you are so excited to get to spend tons of time with your little loves, You’re going to go to the park every week. You have plans to visit some awesome local attractions that you can’t make time to see during the regular school year. You may even be fortunate enough to have a family vacation planned. You’re stoked. At the same time, on the other hand, it feels overwhelming to think of the amount of time and work that is going to get eaten up by extra housework this summer. While you love having the kids home all day, you know that they are inevitably going to create some extra mess. Kids will be kids.
Before you let yourself become too overwhelmed by the negative feelings you have about summer break, let me give you a jumpstart on avoiding messes by sharing 5 tips to declutter toys so that you can devote your time and attention where you want to put it… like time for visiting that new ice cream shop downtown that has a unicorn sundae!
Be sure to read these 3 steps that will help you feel less like the cleaning lady this summer.
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5 STEPS TO DECLUTTER TOYS
Read this post that explains why my kids have never owned a toy box to get some great toy storage ideas AND a copy of my free toy storage handbook!
Items You May Need: bribe for Grandma, hypnotizing movie, large laundry basket, gallon of coffee, box of trash bags.
Step One: Find entertainment for your kids if they are at home with you before you start to declutter toys. Today may be a good time to send the kids to Grandma’s for the day. If Grandma’s busy, make a giant bowl of popcorn and turn on a movie in the playroom as a distraction. You ’bout to get your work on, Mama!!
Step Two: Grab a large laundry basket and go from room to room collecting every. single. toy. Choose one very boring (by kids standards) room in the house where it will be easy to sort the items without the kids getting too involved. Empty the basket in this central location each time it is filled. Don’t do anything else with these items yet. Just dump, and keep collecting around the house.
Step Three: Once you have collected EVERY toy (be sure you checked the minivan!)- take a good, long look at just how many you have in your collection. For me- this was astounding! It still is as I work to whittle down our remaining toys.
Press pause for a moment and consider how long it would take your kids to give a worthy amount of their attention to each of these playthings. All cleaning matters aside, wouldn’t you rather them have only a handful of toys that regularly get their undivided devotion? Imagine owning only 2 or 3 stuffed animals that your children love to death instead of 100 that are loved for 5 minutes and then ignored (but are too sentimental for your child to bare to part with).
It is better to commit to owning only a few toys that get tons of playtime and love rather than encouraging “shiny object syndrome” in our children by giving them too much of a good thing. And, yes, as much as we Mamas may hate them sometimes toys are a good thing. We just have to be intentional about which items we decide to provide for play.
Step Four: Before you begin working to declutter toys, begin with the end in mind. Visualize what you would like your ideal home to look like. Your ideal home may even be a way that your home has looked in the past, but has simply gotten out of control recently. Consider also the amount of time and effort you’d like to put into cleaning and tidying each day. Do you see toys littering every surface of your home in your ideal version? I doubt it. Focus on your vision for your home and keep it close in mind. Now it’s time to begin toy decluttering by sorting.
Step Five: I like to begin with what’s easy. Don’t you? First, set aside the treasured toys. These can never leave. You know the ones. They’re the ones your precious little one sleeps with every night or spends 20 minutes or more engrossed in play with these toys each day. Set these aside. Perhaps, even sneak them back into each child’s rooms so that they are not mistakenly trashed as things get messy.
On the opposite end of the spectrum now, search out and remove any toys that you HATE. Try to cut the total amount of toys by half. Go ahead, I give you permission, Mama. As the old adage goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That certainly applies here.
Next, choose any and all toys with broken or missing parts. Easy, right?
BUT HOW MANY TOYS, MAMABEAR?
Now things will get one degree more difficult. Use your Mama Superpowers of Insight to help you tweeze out about 15 toys which foster pretend play. Grab a few more, if you have them, you can curate them later. These toys are the cream of the crop!
Now pick out about 10 toys from the total toys you have left that your children enjoy.
Around 25 toys is plenty of toys for any household. If you are starting with a staggering number of toys to declutter it can be very difficult to cut back to such a low number straight away. Continue adding to the discard bag as you encounter any toys while you work that you dislike or your children have outgrown. Yes, I said to get rid of the ones your children have outgrown. There ain’t gonna be no toy shortage, Mama! If you have more children one day you can guarantee Grandma is gonna be buying new toys, amiright?! #thetruth #thestuggle
As you declutter toys, add and subtract toys from each grouping as you go along. Your ideal goal should be to keep around 30 total toys if you have more than one child in your home, or about 10% of what you started with for now. Baby steps, Mama. You didn’t get all of these toys overnight, even though it may feel that way sometimes, and you certainly aren’t going to be able to get rid of them all in one sitting either.
Note: At least half of these 30 toys will be in rotation at any given time. I truly feel that this amount of toys is more than enough to be kept in active play and fully entertain any child if the collection has been created with meaningful playtime in mind.
That’s it for today! Declutter toys as easy as 1-2-3-4-5! Be sure to grab one of these before we talk about toy organization in my next post so you’ll be prepared!
Stay tuned for my next post to learn more about what types of toys will encourage focused play which builds self-esteem, social skills, and encourages cognitive development!
Do you have any tips to declutter toys? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
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