Whether you involve the kids or do it while they are at school or sleeping, getting rid of toys can be tough! We have asked our great community their top tips to ditch the mess.
1. Rotate your toys - we have tubs of toys that we pull out and put away regularly. By keeping some toys out of rotation it's like they are brand new when we pull that tub out again. We try and include a few different types of toys in each tub (for example one has bowling, some puzzles, a stacking game and a lacing toy so whatever Mister 3's mood is we have something to do).
2. Get your children to help. This can be tough, but getting your child to help you go through their toys will help everyone in the long run. Explain how when children grow up they need different things, and so these toys are being donated/thrown out because they are too easy/broken/lost pieces/no longer as much fun as the other toys. One easy way to get your child to help is to go through the toys and make a keep, donate and a maybe pile. At the end go through the maybe pile together and decide what to keep and donate from there. If you choose to get your child to help, make sure you take their opinion on board! Don't ask them to help if you're just going to decide what happens anyway - you asked for their voice, now listen to it.
3. Donate. This one is pretty self explanatory. If you don't need it find someone who does. Make sure all toys donated are in good working order and will be enjoyed by someone else.
4. Send them to day care / pre school. Again, pretty simple - send any toys that your children have outgrown or are not longer interested in to day care or preschool, or find a Family Day Care in your area. Centres are always looking for great toys!
5. Re-purpose toys.Wooden toys can be updated with a lick of paint usually. It makes for a fun activity and gives toys a new lease on life. Get the kids involved.
6. Re-gift. Just make sure it's not going back to the same person!
7. Have a friend who always comments on a certain toy when they come over? Pass it along to them! We have A LOT of books at our house, but instead of just keeping them, we pass them along to good friends with a little note inside the cover. Beats buying a card to let them know how much they mean to us.
8. Store them. Think you'll have another baby? Think you might have a little bundle of joy as a neice or nephew soon? Bundle up the high quality toys that your child has outgrown and store them for the next baby. Good quality toys, if stored correctly, can be used for YEARS. Plus, how cute will it be when you can put up a photo of both your children playing with the same beautiful toy!
9. Out of sight, out of mind. We all know children have a few favourite toys. But a lot is just 'stuff'. When you are going through your toys and not sure if you should keep or donate, put it in a box and hide it for a certain period of time (we do 3 months). If your child doesn't request it during the 3 months you can be pretty certain that it won't be too missed (I also do this with clothes for the whole family, and even in my kitchen - empty a drawer into a container, if you use it in 3 months it goes back into the drawer, at the end of 3 months the drawer gets emptied into the donation bin!)
10. Use a gift wish list. Okay, so this doesn't really help with a cull, but it helps limit the amount of 'stuff' that your child will get. I also find that people are happy with a bit of direction! I don't know how many preschool parties you've gone to and you aren't sure if Alex is into trucks or dolls, or if Henry prefers puzzles or paint, but if the parents included a little note for me to shop at their favourite store I would very much appreciate it!
You might have noticed we didn't say 'dump all the toys in the bin and start fresh!'. That's something Mariah Carey might do, but we aren't cray cray like MiMi. We are big believers in paying it forward, so please, if your child no longer plays with a toy, pay it forward before you bin it, your trash may be someone else's treasure.
To try and reduce the amount of toys in your house, try and find things that will LAST. Things that will GROW with your child. Things that you don't mind looking at. And things that they will ENJOY. Education is worth investing in, and cheaper isn't always better.