Kids’ Toys – Throw Them All Away?

This is a re-write/edited version of a previous post.

I was watching a conversation happen on someone else’s social media account that was started with a seemingly simple question: “How can I best organize my kids’ toys?” I rarely respond to these because these aren’t the best spaces to have such opposite-of-simple questions. I’ve written recently about why I prefer working side-by-side with my clients and here is another reason: every family is different.

My answer to the toy question can only come after you answer more questions about the size of your home, the priorities of your parenting, and the personalities of your children, just to name a few.

What do I want to tell most people who ask this question? What one mass answer would I give? Throw away all the toys.

Okay, not really. But it would certainly benefit your family if your children had less toys. And depending on how many your house currently has, a lot less toys. They might even be telling you that in not as many words.

Do your kids melt-down a lot at your home? Do they constantly say that they are bored? Are there boxes of toys that haven’t seen the light of day in months or years? This could be your children saying, “there is too much stuff in here!”

I’m not the expert on why that happens but I can give you a chunk of questions to help you decide which of the toys in the mountain can leave.

Children’s toys can multiply so quickly. Between birthdays, holidays, and the generosity of family and friends, a room in your home can go from a mild mannered play room to an all out toy store… just not as organized. Below are 10 questions to ask to help you decide what toys to keep and what toys to box up or get out of the house altogether.

I’ve found that asking the same question in a different way can make all of the difference.

Questions to help you think of what to keep out and around your home

  1. What toys do your kids go to first thing? (a book, a doll, a car, etc.)
  2. What do they spend extended amounts of time playing with? (manga-tiles, coloring, reading)
  3. What would they cry real, lasting tears about losing? (a lovey vs. 1 of 30 matchbox cars)
  4. What toys do you see as a grower of imagination and learning and growth as a functioning member of society? (legos, musical instruments, craft/science supplies)
  5. What toys meet your family’s mission statement? (if you don’t have family mission statement, take some time to come up with one)

Questions to help you think of what to get out of your home (or box up for soonish or sentimental)

  1. Are there duplicate toys that serve the same purpose? (I’m talking about 2 xylophones here, not 2 stuffed animals.)
  2. What toys have the kids outgrown? (teething rings, bouncy seats)
  3. What toys do they not play with? (they just aren’t into horses)
  4. What toys are too complicated for their age? (100 piece puzzle for a 3 year old)
  5. What toys drive you crazy? (the singing remote, anyone?)

Remember, this is your house (that you share with your family) so think about what you want to keep up with and what you enjoy and what serves the greater purpose of your family and growth of your children.

Did You Get Your Money’s Worth?

I was working with a client recently (I could start every article this way as most of my inspiration comes from people like you and me)…

I was working with a client recently who got me thinking more deeply about how we view money, belongings, and what things are worth.

We were going through a pile of clothing. The clothes had been in bags stored away for at least a year. The owner of said clothes has more than enough clothing in her closet and dresser to keep her clothed with plenty to spare without the clothes that we just pulled from these storage bags. As we went through the clothes she kept wanting to keep piece after piece. Now, I do want to say that I fully recognize that letting go of your belongings is difficult and clothes are near the top of the list. This is why I prefer to work side-by-side with my clients to walk them through, hear their thoughts, and encourage them to reach their goals in decluttering.

As we were decluttering we were talking about our weekend’s activities. This client and one of her children went to see a movie. The movie was on their family’s must-see list because it was a part of a series that they enjoyed. It likely wasn’t on anyone else’s must-see list, however. I’m sure the movie itself was fine but I haven’t heard anyone else talking about it and they themselves didn’t rave over it. For this family, it was money well spent to have that time together.

brunch

Stick with me, I’m going to pull these two seemingly unrelated stories together.

If they only saw the movie and didn’t purchase any concessions they spent at least $20, and that’s if they went a matinee. That is money that they spent for an experience. It was spent and the only thing they brought home from that $20 is a fun memory, no tangible items.

We might expect to pay $20 for a movie and feel like we got our money’s worth (well, at least the going rate). That same $20 spent on a shirt? We think the shirt needs to last our entire lifetime. So let’s change how we think about things.

movie theater

Since it might be a stretch to compare movie prices (entertainment) to a shirt (clothing) let’s change to comparing other items that are meant to entertain. Let’s think DVDs, CDs, books, games (all kinds), and sports equipment to name a few.

So now when you are going through your belongings you can ask yourself, “Did I get my money’s worth?” And if you have used the item even one time the answer is probably “yes” if we use the movie ticket way of thinking.

You might still decide to keep the item because it is beautiful to you or it is functional but at least you have now thought through it a little more clearly.

And for another day, think in this same way when deciding to purchase something or not.

One Man’s Trash

There is a reason why I prefer to work side-by-side with my clients and this picture is one beautiful example of my biggest reason.

When I work side-by-side with my clients we are emptying small areas at a time, sorting like with like, making decisions on what stays and what goes, and then putting all the keepers back in an organized fashion. After working with a client for a few sessions I can usually do a good job of guessing what a client will want to keep and what they will want to get out of their house. I only do so if given permission.

One particular day I was working with a client who was a blast to work with, had a healthy detachment with more things than not (her favorite bed spread had seen better days and she did not have to be convinced to let it go). We happened to be working in her daughter’s things and I was beginning to see a pattern of what she liked (or what her daughter liked) and what she didn’t. Having been given the permission, I was tossing/donating things alongside of her. Then we got to this one headband that I thought for sure was destined for the trash. I mean, there were googley eyes on it. Surely it was a one-time fun craft that happened to make it into the hair accessories.

Nope. I was dead-wrong. Well, I was half-wrong. I was perfectly correct in that it was a craft made for a fun spirit day. I was highly mistaken that it was destined for the trash. This headband wasn’t going anywhere. This headband was beloved. This headband stayed put with the hair accessories. And in the back of my mind I may have thought, “hmm, I wonder when this will be worn again.” (Some of you reading that will immediately read judgement into those words. Let me rest your little minds, no judgement. It was a true wonder.)

Well much to my delight I was checking out the LRSO IG feed and stories and came across this client’s day. A cute picture with a puppy. A picture of her sweet daughter doing a big swing. A picture of her sweet daughter getting ready to delight in a mall pretzel.

And, wait, go back. What is that on her head? That can’t be! It is! That sweet girl is wearing THAT headband! And it wasn’t spirit day, it was just another day out with her mom. Well, well, well. It didn’t take long for that headband to make it’s way out of the house again and I’m tickled that she enjoys it so much!

So if you ever wonder WHY I like to work side-by-side with my clients, it’s because I can’t actually read anyone’s mind even if I might look really good at it sometimes. I ask a million questions to get my clients to make their best decision and sometimes I do throw in a “will you really give this book to that person or will it just sit on this table for 3 more months?” (Again, a true question, no judgement.)

*my client gave me permission to post this photo

Permission: The 5 Things You Can Let Go Of Series, Kids Items

Have you ever thought, “I just need someone to give me permission to throw this out”? That’s what this Permission series is all about. We’ll walk through room by room, list 5 items per room, and why the items can be easy to get out of your house.
As always, it’s your house and your stuff. You may actually need and use the things I suggest you toss. But if you don’t, give yourself a little more freedom to find a little more peace in your house by tossing things that you don’t need.
Today we’ll be in the kids’ rooms. If the pantry is my favorite area to declutter, kids’ rooms are my second favorite. I’ll keep it to 5 types of items but there are so many more. This might be one of the easiest areas in your home as well. Maybe.
Depending on the age of your children you can some of these into a game. Have a scavenger hunt, have a fashion show, play a few rounds of “this is my favorite” show and tell. The opportunities are endless. It’s never too early to start modeling and teaching order in a home.
1. Kid’s meal toys
For years people have been bringing tiny junk into your home and you’ve not stopped it. In fact, you’ve encouraged it. You swing by a drive-thru because who has time to unload the kids, the diaper bag, and yourself, cross the crazy parking lot traffic without having a kid hit by a car all to get a quick meal that you don’t have time to make at home. (Another story for another day.) And somehow your kids know that this fine establishment will give them a TOY with their food and insist on it. That little tiny junk just builds and builds in your home. I hate to break it to you but they weren’t meant to last. They cost 2 cents to make and they show it. You have all the permission in the world to let your children enjoy the toys that they asked for and love and that you spent good time and money purchasing.
ACTION – dig out those junky little kid’s meal toys and toss them in the trash.
2. Outgrown clothes
The sad truth is that even if we put bricks on kids’ heads they WILL grow. Growth for children happens fast. Just take a look at the first year of their life clothes. You have newborn, 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12. Depending on the size of your sweetie at birth your infant can wear up to 5 different sizes in one year. It’s mind blowing really. After that it’s every 6 months with new clothes with the seasons and all. There is a giant caveat here for those of you who are sentimental and a tiny caveat for those who are thinking of having more kids. If you are sentimental, most of us are to some degree, start a bin. Label it “(baby’s name here) keepsakes” and put it in a place that you will be able to add to it when necessary. If you are thinking of having more kids, go through the outgrown clothes and pick out the clothes you like. Put those in a bin labeled “Summer/0-3 mos BOY” or whatever the appropriate season, size, and gender.
ACTION – open up those tiny drawers and pull out the outgrown clothes, donate or keep for sentimental reasons. Take those sentimental items out of the drawers and put in a labeled bin.
3. Broken toys and shredded books
There might be some tears here. Yours. You spent money on that battery operated talking chicken whose bottom beak is missing, has a hand-drawn mustache, and may sound a little possessed. Here’s the good news, that toy was loved and has come to the end of it’s chicken life. Send it on it’s way. There are some toys that just aren’t worth keeping around anymore. While we’re at it, if the book has more tape on it that page, it’s probably time to toss that one as well. Oh, you love that specific hard copy of that book? Great, toss that in the sentimental bin.
ACTION – dump out the toy bins, check for all the parts, keep the toys that are still viable. Empty the bookshelves, keep the books that you enjoy and are readable.
4. Socks
Easy peasy. Missing a match? Too small? Holes? Stretch out? Out they go. There will be more laundry discussion next week.
ACTION – open the sock drawer, toss the tossables. 
5. Blankets
This is mainly for those of you with infants and toddlers and preschoolers. At your baby shower you received a dozen or so baby blankets and swaddles and towels. You didn’t like them (don’t worry, I won’t tell) so you went out and bought your own. Now you have a preschooler and 57.5 baby linens. Take a little trip back to “outgrown clothes” and, viola, you’re ready to go.
ACTION – open the blanket drawer and keep those that are meaningful and will be used.

I’ll put a list of areas posted here with their link when they are live. You can also click on “Permission Series” category to see them as well.
Home
Office
Kitchen
Kids’ Rooms
Laundry
Garage
Dining Room