I thought I’d bring you inside my home and let you know what we’ve been up to this week. I have been conducting my semi annual toy purge. I know this is an area where many moms struggle (seriously, how do the toys just keep multiplying?) so I thought I’d share my recipe for the ultimate toy purge.
First, I would suggest picking up a copy of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. The book not only covers simplifying toy collections, but many other areas of childhood as well. I honestly feel like I should read it on a yearly basis to keep myself in check and keep our lives simple. If you’re interested in purchasing it, I will shamelessly plug my amazon associates link here. 🙂
Less is definitely more with kids. Kim John Payne puts it simply, “A smaller, more manageable quantity of toys invites deeper play and engagement. An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm.”
I think we can all imagine a mountain of toys and the overwhelming quality that invokes. Nothing can truly be valued if it is in a big heap.
Just so I know you really get it, lets do a little exercise.
In adult terms I like to relate this to going shopping for clothes. Close your eyes and imagine a very clean, simple, and well laid out boutique with few items. You are more likely to engage and be more interested in the items on display. They also appear to be of high quality. You can tell the shop owner was very intentional when deciding what to sell. It feels good to shop here.
Now close your eyes and imagine walking into one of those discount stores with clothes of all types jam packed onto the racks from wall to wall. You need to find a shirt, but there are so many choices, and the way they are displayed, whether they are or not, they look of low quality.
Feel the difference?
The toy purging recipe that I’m going to share is a combination of what I’ve learned in Simplicity Parenting as well as techniques covered in various other decluttering books. Yes, I’ve read many of the sort, we strive for minimalism in our house (keyword: strive).
Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to simplifying your children’s toys.
1. Take it all out. Literally. – Ok so you can do this in sections, but take it out of the closet, the baskets, the bins, etc. I’m talking every last piece. Now take a look at that empty storage space and really take a moment to see the value in the empty space. It is glorious, right? Now remember this feeling.
2. Start with the trash. – Get rid of the broken toys, the ones that are missing their pieces, and the junk. Junk would be the freebies that you pick up here and there. You don’t need these items, just pick them up and chuck them in the trash. You read that right, don’t worry about donating them or passing them on (please don’t pass it on), go straight to the garbage. Then take a moment to feel how good that feels. Ahhh!
3. Next, go through and look at each toy individually. Use the following questions to identify the keepers. Be very selective about this. Remember that you are taking great value in the space, not the items.
- Does it foster imagination, and does it invite deep complex play?
- Is it open ended or does it have a more fixed quality. By fixed I mean does it only have one way to play with it?
- It is made of natural or quality materials?
- Is it developmentally appropriate? Get rid of the babyish toys, or the ones they can grow into (or at least put the latter ones away until they are ready for them).
- Is it something that my child is in love with? (An example of this would be my daughter’s Dusty Crophopper toy. Although, it would definitely be considered a fixed toy, as would most character toys, I wouldn’t dare get rid of it. If I did I’d have to sleep with one eye open.)
- Is it annoying? (Enough said)
- Is it a very high stimulation toy? – aim for simple.
- Do you have more than one of them?
- Is it a toys that inspires friendly or corrosive play? Payne describes the corrosive play category as a “you know it when you see it” category.
4. What to do with what remains? At this point you’ll have a bunch of toys that are not trash, but not members of the keeper group either. You can go through these and decide which ones you can donate or give away. Try to be selective about giving toys away to friends. It isn’t nice to just give someone a giant box of toys you don’t want. Make sure the person would actually want these items. I tend to only give away my old “keepers” that my children have simply grown out of.
5. What you have left after this, put into storage to rotate through the rest of the collection, or create a “toy library.” The toy library is something that we’ve done and I love it. We used to be more deliberate about “checking toys out,” but now the kids mostly know that the toy library isn’t something that we pull everything out of all at once. We’ve also made the addition of putting all of the dumpable toys in the library, because no one likes all of the dumpable toys dumped at once.
6. One last note. Be careful what you bring in. The more selective you are in what toys you bring into your home, the easier this process will be every time.
Thats it! Hope that helps the mamas out there!
Speaking of helping out the mamas…if you would like to learn how to take better photos of those cute kids of yours, check out my MOMtography 101 class coming up on May 6th! Grab your spot today!
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