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How to Talk to Kids About Toy Clutter and Minimizing

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How to Talk to Kids About Toy Clutter

If you are walking down the path of simplifying or minimizing you will most likely find the things for your children are extremely overwhelming.  Whether it’s their wardrobes, sports equipment, or toys it can easily get out of control. At this point, you might be thinking “how can I talk to my kids about toy clutter without them freaking out?”

Our children won’t understand the concept of simplifying unless we can explain it in terms they can understand.

Having honest and open conversations will always work better than just going around them and doing what you feel is best.  Make sure they are allowed to be a part of the decluttering process.  It will help them to feel more in control of the situation as well as instilling values about consumerism and materialism that they can take forward in their lives.

Getting started is one of the biggest hurdles and knowing what to do first can sometimes lead to analysis paralysis. The Kids Clutter Bundle, included at the bottom of the post, helps get you moving in three of the biggest kids clutter categories: Toys, Paper, and Clothes!

Why do Kids Need Fewer Toys Anyways?

Children learn through play.  This is a pretty commonly accepted fact.  What we fail to understand or remember is that the type of play matters. 

A majority of toys available today are not fostering this learning and yet children have these types of toys in abundance.

The Child Development Institute says “Toys are more than just fun and games for kids.  Most toys provide at least some opportunity for children to learn. The best toys engage a child’s senses, spark their imaginations, and encourage them to interact with others.”

How to Effectively Deal with A Toddler Tantrum in A Public Place

When Toys Create Anxiety and Overwhelm 

Like adults, children also feel stress and anxiety when they are surrounded by clutter.  Obviously, we don’t want to give our children these issues in childhood OR see them carried on into their adulthood.  

Having fewer toys can lead a young child to focus and engage in more creative, imaginative play, according to the study By Psycholody Today.

This is not to say that parents have been doing something wrong by accumulating more and more in an attempt to create a happy childhood for their children.  It’s more like we’ve been doing too much of the right thing. 

We all want what’s best for our children.  The message we’ve been receiving about what is best, well, it just isn’t the truth.

The Toy Decluttering Guide in our Kids Clutter Bundle can help you determine which toys you should keep and which toys it’s time to let go of!.

Do you Have the Right Type of Toys? 

The most important time in a persons brain development is before age 5.

Five.

What is it that our children are doing day in and day out before they start formal education at age five? Playing.

The importance of the type of play your children are getting is critical. We should be using this time to set our children up for lifelong learning instead of just shoving whatever is new and popular into their hands because we think it’s something they should like.

Really it’s not even what we think they should like, it’s what the big marketing machine has told us that our children will like.

Of course, our kids love the new, loud, electronic, plastic toys, BUT is that what is best for nurturing their little brains at this critical point in development? Most likely it’s not.

“Open-ended play materials allow children to make choices, [and] express their creativity.”   “It is through these experiences that children are able to learn best.” Michigan State University

Your kids Do Not need to have all the stuff.  It’s contradictory to what society tells us today but I can promise you it’s true.

Grab the Kids Clutter Bundle below to see which toys are recommended for your kids to actually have.

Three of the Biggest Mistakes We’ve Been Making When it Comes to Toy Clutter and Our Kids

First, buying more of a lower quality item inherently means your items are going to last for less time because they are probably made of inferior materials.

Second, parents have become accustomed to buying “themed” toys AND everything that goes with them. 

Third, buying singular age toys that cannot be used by multiple aged children or will not grow with your child.  Going with this mindset will constantly bring an influx of toys into your home as your children age. 

Use Honesty to Talk to Kids About Toy Clutter

I cannot stress this enough.  Tell your kids what’s happening and why.  If you’ve been a buyer of all the things and you are changing that it would be unfair to not tell your children.  If they have come to expect something each time they ask don’t just make the change one day and expect them to understand.

Use this as a teaching opportunity and let your kids know why you are choosing to have fewer things, including fewer toys in your home.  Your reasons may be different but I have found most people fall into at least one of the categories below.

Money

An abundance of toys can usually be noticed when you take a look at your spending habits.  Even when parents are just buying that $3 crappy toy each time they visit Target, it does start to add up. Tell your children why saving money is important to your family.

Environmental

This is the easiest for my animal-loving children to understand.  We are very into taking care of our toys and making sure we buy quality items.  Usually, we don’t buy many things that are made of plastic and my daughter loves to remind me that we are saving animals in the ocean by not buying it.  

Mental Health 

Depending on the age of your child they may or may not understand about mental health and “attitudes”.  They may not understand that having fewer toys will make it easier for their developing brains to play.  Simplify as much as you need in this area.  I just tell my 6-year-old fewer toys helps her brain work better and lets her have more fun with the things she does have.

Space for things they enjoy

Having space is a huge thing when it comes to playing!  When we originally started decluttering toys in our house I was able to gain so much room just because we weren’t storing toys everywhere.  We managed to get rid of two shelving units, which allowed space for a full-size playhouse in our playroom.  They enjoy the playhouse so much more than the variety of random toys that were stored on the shelves. 

The guides in the Kids Clutter Bundle provide a variety of ways to create more space in your home!

Tell them where the toys will go 

Some children need to know what happens with their things once they leave them.  Give them the answers they need.  If you are donating places make sure your children are apart of the process.  Community service and giving back is always something you should show your children.

Broken– If a toy is broken I hope its obvious it should be trashed.  

It if is repairable you should do that instead of just buying another toy, however.  Repairing broken things will help your child learn that items are to be taken care of.

If a toy is missing parts that are vital to play there should be trashed as well.  If the time isn’t necessary for play these could be salvageable.

Electronic – Donate or recycle

Depending on the type of “toy” you may be able to recycle or donate them.  My children always played with our old cell phones when they were little.  However, once they outgrew this stage we found recycling programs to send them to.  This could work for other electronics like ipads, fire tablets etc.

Collectables, High-End and Good Condition toys – Sell Them

These can be sold at a variety of places and I usually just tell my children they are going to make other kids happy too.   – 

Now if you have items that are still in good condition but cant be sold you can of course donate them.  Everyone always thinks of big stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army but there are lots of other places that you could send your toys.

My daughter’s daycare took a ton of our plastic toys when we moved to more open-ended play a few years ago.    So I would check with any local daycares or nurseries to see if they have a need for anything you might be getting rid of.

Churches with childcare are also a great place to check.

Women and children shelters are often overlooked but call around and see if they have any specific needs.

Check with family members to see if they might like the toys.  Anywhere you can send the toys that might help prevent more consumerism is a bonus.

New Items

Sometimes you may have new toys you are getting rid of for one reason or another.  If you can’t return or resell them think about donating them to Children’s Hospitals or Clinics.  I have a collection area in my garage where I hideaway gifts that I know will never be used and take them to our children’s hospital every six months or so.

There are also companies like NEGU who create “Joy Jars” who take donations to create age-appropriate toy boxes for hospitalized children.

When my grandfather was dying he was put in a Hospice House.  They had received a big donation of toys and were giving them to the children who were visiting loved ones.  I thought this was the sweetest thing to bring a little bit of happiness to kids who were having to go through something very big.

Books to Talk About Clutter with Kids

Check out the whole list in my Amazon Store Here.


How to Prevent Toy Clutter from Becoming a Problem Again 

Once you have gotten rid of whatever you are trying to get rid of you have to remember to maintain.  Talking with your kids about clutter, teaching them the difference between needs and wants, and helping them to understand consumerism and commercialism are so important.  You don’t want to keep repeating the cycle of buying and getting rid of things over and over.

Grab the Kids Clutter Bundle below and get started changing your home today!

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Get weekly tips on simplifying your life, everything from parenting to mental health! The KIDS CLUTTER BUNDLE is our FREE GIFT to get you started simplifying today!

Kids Clutter Bundle Includes:

  • Ditching the Toys - Guide & Checklist
  • Kids Paper Clutter - Getting Organized
  • Minimal Kids Wardrobe - Staples & Favorites 
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Wondering How to talk to kids about toy clutter and downsizing their toys?  It won't be so traumatic if you follow a few guidelines.  Find these tips and more inside plus a FREE Toy Decluttering Guide to get you started.

16 Comments

  • Luna S November 24, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Wonderful post, and I agree it is important to help talk with your children about mass amounts of clutter. It is amazing how filthy a house can look just do to a bit of clutter!

  • Renee November 24, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Omg I couldn’t agree more. When my kids have more, they play less! Love this info!

  • Cyndi Buchanan November 24, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve had similar conversations with my kids. There is no reason to keep so much clutter.

  • Mila R November 24, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Having a honest and open conversations will always work for any problem.

  • Georgina November 24, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Love this post and I couldn’t agree more! Children need to taught how to appreciate and appreciate less and the consequences of clutter.

  • siennylovesdrawing November 25, 2020 at 1:48 am

    thanks for sharing this useful guide here, am now learnt the tips & gonna practising them with my little niece now 😀 cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  • Fatima D Torres November 25, 2020 at 6:05 am

    Toy clutter is an important topic to discuss, more so since we’re heading into Christmas. Not a fan of gifting the kids with toys.

  • Seyi November 25, 2020 at 8:24 am

    My big sis would love these tips and I would share with her. Thanks.

  • Hooda November 25, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Great post! Although I don’t have kids, clutter creates so much stress for us adults, so I can only imagine how children feel about it.

  • Kenneth November 25, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    now a days toys are not popular with kids anymore….they like smartphones or tablets to play with. not during my time.a use to build my own toy from the scratch…empty cans,scrap woods,or old sandals,,and i really enjoyed it

  • Mary November 25, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    My mom was big on organizing and getting rid of clutter. I remember going through toys with her and donating a lot for kids that were less fortunate. I felt good giving toys away to kids that didn’t have many.

  • Renata Green November 25, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    I think this is a problem each and every mother is struggling with – or every child, depends on the perspective 😉 Fortunately, this, too, will pass 😀

  • Merveille November 25, 2020 at 11:48 pm

    As a minimalist myself, I have always wondered how I would go about teaching my kids this lifestyle once I start having little ones. However, this post is so intentional in its way of teaching kids about minimizing that you have made it all so easy. Thank you for sharing!

  • Michele November 26, 2020 at 11:11 am

    I love that my stepdaughter was never really attached to toys or things in her room. Every October/November since she was 3, I would ask her to clean out toys she no longer wanted so we could give them to other kids who may not have a lot of gifts. She would happily throw everything out of her room if it meant someone else would have a toy.

  • Blair Villanueva November 27, 2020 at 2:52 am

    I don’t have kids, but I remember when we were kids our Mother only gave us a few second-hand toys. This made us appreciate our toys and kept them in good condition. In addition to the fact that I have an Asian Tiger Mom who uses different ways to discipline us.

  • Jona Shares November 30, 2020 at 6:13 am

    Having little toys is not bad. Kids tend to pay importance to it and appreciate each toys they have. Also it somehow gives me less work whenever I need to clean it.

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    About Zhade

    About Zhade

    Hi Mama

    I’m wife to my high school sweetheart, and mama to three little girls: Everleigh, Magnolia & Juniper. I LOVE motherhood, holidays and hot chocolate. I crave efficiency and NEED to figure out the easiest and best way to do EVERYTHING. Life is short & I refuse to waste it on being boring.

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