New Year Cleaning Challenge: Cut Down On Toy Clutter

organize toys

Day 66 of the New Year Cleaning Challenge

One big obstacle to organizing children's rooms? Too many toys!

Whether it's fast food freebies, mushrooming collections or over-buying by doting grandparents (Guilty!), it's easy for children's toys to pile up well beyond their play value. How do you pull the plug on toy excess?

Try these tips to identify toy keepers, turf surplus toys, and rotate the family's toy collection to cut down on toy clutter.

Today's Assignment:
Cut Down on Toy Clutter

Toy gridlock is easy to spot: from the center of a room full of toys, a plaintive voice cries, "I don't have anything to play with!" With too many toys spilling from every storage space, children find it difficult to focus.

Fewer toys means more play value, and makes it easier to keep children's rooms clean and organized. Try these ideas to hone down family toy collections to the hard-playing minimum.

Identify the Keepers

Before you open a single toy box, spend some time watching your children at play and identify good candidates for a slimmed-down toy collection. Focus on your children's favorite toys, but also consider these standards for creative play:

  • Blocks or structural sets, such as Lego-brand construction blocks
  • Art and craft supplies
  • Dolls, puppets and stuffed animals for imaginative play
  • Puzzles and board games
  • Active toys such as balls and sports equipment

These "high play value" keepers will form the backbone of your new, streamlined toy collection.

Swap or Donate Surplus Toys

Armed with a short list of toy keepers, it's time to sort through the toy mountain. Even discarding toys that are broken, worn-out or missing parts, you're likely to end up with a good amount of usable but surplus toys. As you work, look into options to swap, consign or donate surplus toys.

Children's consignment stores will often accept quality playthings in good condition. Whether you're paid in cash, or in store credit, consignment allows you to exchange the value remaining in outgrown toys for items that have more appeal.

Check with other families to set up an informal toy swap. This concept works well with younger children, who outgrow toys quickly. Exchanging your played-out belongings for fresh items from another family is a great way to extend your toy dollar! Schools and day care centers sometimes sponsor more formal toy swap events, so be on the lookout for swap possibilities.

Finally, donating toys can benefit your own children as well as others. Selecting and dropping off donated toys is a great hands-on lesson for your children, and keeps toys in use and out of the landfill.

Rotate the Toy Collection

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Keep the "play" in your children's playthings fresh, even in a honed-down toy collection, by storing and rotating toys regularly.

As you sort toys, place items in plastic bins, and store them away from the children's room for a few weeks. After a month or so, swap out one or more bins for toys currently in active play.

Time away from the toy refreshes play value, especially for younger children--and having a good percentage of the family toy collection in storage at any one time cuts down on toy clutter!

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