Something happens to your house when you have kids. Suddenly you find toys finding their way into your house from everywhere. Grandparents, school parties, birthday parties, prizes and even your own impulse buys bring tons of stuff into your house throughout a given year. Sometimes it gets to the point where I almost have a complete and total breakdown. This usually occurs around the time that I’ve cleaned a zone of my house, I move to another zone and when I re-enter the clean zone it’s again covered in LEGO’s, costumes or some other craziness just 30 minutes later. I know I’m not alone this and so I decided to create the Ultimate Guide to strategically purging and organizing kid’s toys.
It will be a multi part series to help you tackle one part at a time! Do one part then come back and do the next! I’ve done my best to break down in to simple, actionable pieces for any parent to implement! Once I wrote most of the content It was a lot of information so I’ve broken it down into a simple series! This is part 1!
Project Part 1: De-cluttering the Toys
Step 1: Get your kid(s) out of the house.
If you try and purge your kid’s toys while they are in the house you are asking for a fight, a breakdown or a serious speedbump to your progress. Take them to grandma’s, get your spouse to take them to the park- whatever it takes do this project as low key as humanly possible.
Step 2: Grab the following items:
- A Trash Bag = For Trash
- An Empty Cardboard Box or Trash Bag = For Donations
- A Laundry Basket or Bin = Items You Want to Sell
- Gallon Size Zip Top Bags = For small items you want to keep together to sell.
- Create a section of the room or a blanket on the floor where you place anything you want to keep.
- AA, AAA and 9-volt batteries (you can grab these from Dollar Store) to test broken toys out.
Step 3: Go through every.single.toy.item in your child’s room and put it in one of the 5 areas/bins listed above.
- If a toy is broken, non-cleanable (ex. nasty stuffed animals), destroyed or dried up just throw it away. Don’t even hesitate.
- If you have an electronic that doesn’t work, replace the batteries and see if it works. If it works with batteries, you can put it in your keep pile or remove the batteries and add it to your donation pile.
- Recycle Electronics- If you find the electronic toy doesn’t work, even with new batteries, consider saving up your broken electronics in a bin and then taking them to a recycle center who takes electronic waste. Check out e-Steward and see if there is a recycle center near you that will recycle it before you throw it in your trashcan. You can search for an electronics recycle center near you using the e-Steward website. Be sure you filter using the tern “consumer” (because that’s what we are) so you can find places you can drop off at.
- No matter where you live there is most likely a thrift store where you can donate unwanted toys.
- If the toys are in really good shape and you don’t feel like selling them, consider donating them to a local preschool (think Toy Story 3).
- Donating is one of the best options because it gets the clutter out of your house the quickest.
- I donate items that I don’t think will sell at consignment sales/stores, items that are missing pieces but are still functional or items I don’t feel like selling.
- Once the bags or boxes are loaded with donations I immediately put them in my trunk or in the back of my husbands truck and take them straight to the store. No going back.
- I have also found that if I “store” my donation bins in my basement, my son will inevitably sneak down there, discover the bags and begin playing with stuff that needed to go out the door which undoes all my hard work.
- As you go through your items, sell anything that’s still in good shape that your kid doesn’t play with anymore or never played with in the first place.
- Also consider getting rid of toys that aren’t age appropriate.
- Avoid Temptation- One temptation I face when going through kids toys is “saving” the toys for the next kid and in my case, it’s a kid that hasn’t even been born yet. I’ve learned to only save toys that I don’t think I could find again at a thrift store or consignment sale. For example I’ll keep my son’s Ninja Turtles and Lego’s but won’t hold on to puzzles, games or other toys I could easily find again.
- The Pro’s of Selling- Selling your kids toys is a great option. You get rid of items and put some money back in your pocket. My friend Rhonda and I call this recycling because we buy all our kid’s toys used and then we sell them so we can buy newer used toys. It’s an ongoing cycle.
- The Con’s of Selling- When I decide to sell items, I often gather them in the basement and then one day when my back is turned my preschooler wanders down stairs and finds them all and inevitably starts playing with them again. So be sure you find a GOOD hiding spot while they wait to be sold.
- There are many options out there for selling kids toys. I’ve written several in-depth posts about selling kids toys so I’m simply going to link to them in the list below and if you find one that fits your fancy, you can check out those tutorials and tips to help you with that specific project.
- Selling at Kid’s Consignment Sales – this post tells you everything you need to know from finding a sale in your area, to cleaning and also how to price your items to sell.
- Selling at Garage Sales
- Selling at a Consignment Store– There may be independently owned consignment stores in your area but for toys you want to look for Kid’s Consignment Stores. These stores will take your item, sell it for you and give you a 40% to 60% portion of the sale price.
- Selling to a retail re-sell store- On the other hand there are “chain” retail resell stores in many areas such as Play It Again Sports and Once Upon a Child that will buy your kids toys and sports equipment and hand you cash for them.
- Selling on Facebook- Every time I bring up selling clutter, someone inevitably raves about the success they have had on Facebook. I’ve never done it but want to give it a try. Victoria from Snail Pace Transformations has a really great post to give you all the info you need for putting extra money in your pocket by selling your stuff on Facebook groups. Check out Selling Saturdays: Tips for Selling in Facebook Buy and Sell Groups.
Gallon Size Baggies-
- These bags are handy when you are de-cluttering because as you find random items that belong to a game, puzzle or a toy set, you can put them together to organize later or to keep them together in your donation/sell piles for the next kid to play with.
Deciding What To Keep-
- Can we get real for one second? As a mom, I really want my son have to have lots of nice things and even the things I always wanted as a kid but couldn’t have. It’s wonderful that I can afford those items and give him lots of things but I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t mean it’s good for him.
- Having millions of toys around our homes can have several negative side effects that we may not consider:
- It makes keeping our homes clean much harder and uses up valuable minutes and hours of our time.
- It can potentially create a child who doesn’t value what they have and takes it for granted.
- It can make it hard for your child to focus on one activity at a time. (Hand raised on that one).
- Regardless of how new, old or valuable the toy is- As you go to put something in the keep pile ask yourself these questions to help you make a good choice about what to keep and what to purge:
- When was the last time my child played with this toy?
- If given the option, would my child play with this toy?
- Is this developmentally and/or age appropriate for my child? (Too young or too old?)
- Am I saving this for a “future” kid or my current kid?
- Would my child miss this toy if it weren’t around?
- Does this toy help my child learn, imagine, problem solver or make believe?
- Remember, when you are all done sorting, you can always go back through your keep pile and review each item again as you get ready to organize them.
This is the first part of tackling your toy situation. This will take some time but once you do this, you’re going to feel amazing! Once it’s all purged will dive into how to organize it in a way that saves your sanity for the long run. That post will be published on Tuesday, March 15! There are two things you can do to be sure you stay in the loop. 1- Pin this post to your Pinterest Account. 2- Sign up for my email newsletter in the sign up box at the bottom of this post!!! I’d love to see your pictures, so be sure you tag me on Instagram @thriftylilmom and use the hashtag #TLMToyPurge.
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!