5 Rules for Cleaning out Toys

box with toysThe holiday season is a great time to clean out old toys and organize your play spaces.  Not only do you have a little extra time on your hands, you can feel good about donating items to others who can enjoy them as much as your kids did.  Cleaning out the toys may fee like a daunting task as your playroom continuously explodes with more and more stuff.   Seriously, where does it all come from, right?  Today we’re sharing some basic rules for cleaning out toys to reclaim your kids play spaces (if only for a few months until it needs to be done again).

Rule #1:  Clean when the kids aren’t around. 

Not only will the watchful eyes of your kids be distracting to you, but they will want to hold on to everything.  You need to work from an objective viewpoint so don’t let your kids’ presence influence your decision making.

Rule #2:  Be extremely discerning. 

Don’t clean out toys when you are feeling sentimental.  Toy clean-out day should be a cut-throat activity.  Here are some basic tips about which toys to eliminate.  Chuck it if…

  • Your kids haven’t played with it in over 6 months
  • It is broken beyond the point of repair
  • It is dangerous (chipping paint, exposed sharp edges, etc…)
  • It is no longer age appropriate for your children
  • Chachkis such as cheap birthday party favors and carnival prizes (trust us, you’ll get more soon!)
  • It makes so much of a mess you ban its use anyways

Rule #3:  Make piles and get rid of them as soon as possible.

Categorize toys you plan to discard them in three ways:  toys you are throwing away, toys you are donating and toys you are saving for a younger child.  For the toys you plan to save, pack them up and label the box so they are easy to find when you need them.  For toy donations, take them immediately to their point of destination, whether that is Goodwill, a local toy drive or to a friend’s house with younger kids.  And of course toss the ones you are throwing out.  Be sure not to let your kids see them as they may try to salvage their long-lost “favorite” toy they haven’t played with in years.

Rule #4:  Re-organize play spaces and explain the new layout to your kids.

Moving things around a bit can offer a fresh new look to your playroom, and may even re-energize the way your kids play in it.  Try not to buy new storage containers but rather use what you have in creative ways.  Designate areas for certain types of toys to help your children keep their own play space organized and know where to return toys when they are done with them.  If you feel inclined, you can label toy bins.  Otherwise simply explain your system and challenge your kids to keep their playroom tidy.

Rule #5:  Be strict about keeping your play spaces uncluttered. 

If your kids are old enough to understand cleaning up, set rules about how their play spaces should be maintained.  This may include always cleaning up after playtime and never leaving toys lying around the house.  Come up with consequences for not following the rules such as losing the toy for a set amount of time, or throwing out random papers and crafts they leave in the wrong place.  It may feel harsh but your kids will soon learn how to take care of their playroom if you enforce the rules.  For younger kids, help them clean and evolve to more stringent rules over time.

Employ these rules for cleaning out toys for a less cluttered and happier play space.  Good luck!

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