Are you ready for the influx of new toys your kids will receive this holiday season?
Do you do a pre-Christmas clean out of old toys to make way for the new ones?
We don’t go overboard at Christmas but even modest gift giving still means new belongings that need to be found a space for in the house.
I’m interested in this idea of doing a bit of a ‘stocktake’ of toys before new favourites arrive.
But how to go about doing a pre-season declutter?
Do you involve the kids or not? How ruthless should you be in the toy cull? And where to start?
I asked my friend and professional organiser Amy Kelman from The Chaos Coordinator for her advice.
She shared with me her step-by-step process of approaching a toy clean out, including some great tips for dealing with the inevitable reluctance of little people to give away old toys (even those long abandoned!), how to decide which toys to re-home, and how to keep the toys tidy after they’ve been cleaned up.
Here are Amy’s top tips for a pre-Christmas toy clean-out:
Decluttering toys: Tips from a professional organiser
Decluttering toys. Aggh. Sometimes I wish I could just sweep everything into a garbage bag and be done with it all.
I know that at Christmas time stuff just seems to come from everywhere, and January is usually spent trying to re-organise bedrooms and playrooms trying to fit everything in.
Good news is you can calm the chaos by adopting the age-old adage “out with the old, in with the new”.
I personally like to do this before Christmas, so everything is clear and organised, ready for the new bits and pieces to move straight in.
If you think your kids won’t be up for letting go of anything, then try doing it after Christmas while the hype and excitement is still there for the news things, they may be inclined to let some of their old things go then.
Whenever you decide to do it, it is important that you do it with your children. You don’t want to be seen as the monster that throws away their toys.
If your kids are younger and don’t have the attention span to go through all of the toys with you, just do one category with them and you do the rest.
After going through this process with my own kids two or three times, they now bring me the toys that they are finished with and ready to pass on.
The process: How a professional organiser declutters toys
Here are the steps I take to declutter toys.
Gather all the toys that reside in your house and put them together in one place. You need to see the whole picture – a few toys in the bedroom + a few toys in the loungeroom + a few toys in the playroom can quickly add up to the Mount Everest of toys when you get them together.
Sort the toys into categories, grouping like with like – all the blocks together, all the dolls together etc.
Deciding what to get rid of can be the most difficult part of any decluttering exercise. To make it easier I break it down into categories. There are five types of toys that I recommend removing:
1. Remove anything that is broken or incomplete. If it is no longer useable there is no point holding onto it. Anything bound for the rubbish pile should be recycled where possible.
2. Remove the toys that the kids have clearly outgrown, its’ time to pass these on.
3. Remove anything that the kids no longer use. WARNING: Toys that fall into this category all of a sudden become their ‘favourite’ toy that can’t be decluttered. If this is the case put a time limit on it, reassess in 3 months’ time to see how often it was used.
4. Remove the excess and duplicates. Do you really need 40 Hot Wheels cars, or will 10 suffice?
5. Remove any unwanted toys, anything that the kids simply don’t want anymore.
Once you’ve removed all of the above, it’s time to reorganise the remaining toys into your toy storage, ensuring everything has a home. When things don’t have a designated home, then clutter occurs.
Remember your storage containers set a natural limit of how much stuff you can keep. If you can’t fit everything into your existing storage you need to either get more storage or get rid of some more stuff.
Try and store your items where you use them, this will increase the chances of them being put away. If your kids can’t see the toys, they won’t use them.
If you need to store things out of sight, then you might need to adopt a rotation schedule where you pull a box out of storage and put a box away.
Choose storage that is suitable for the age of your child, make sure they can get things out and put things back easily.
Dispose of your discarded items thoughtfully and sustainably.
How to keep toys tidy after they’ve been decluttered
Once you have done this and everything is tidy, how do you keep it like this for the rest of the year?
- When something is taken out make sure it is put away, straight away – do it now not later.
- When something new comes into the house find a home for it ASAP.
- Follow the one in one out principle, declutter as you go.
- Buy experiences not stuff, it’s nice to create memories not landfill.
Amy Kelman, The Chaos Coordinator
Thanks so much Amy for these great tips!
Will you be doing a pre-Christmas toy clean-out? Which of these tips do you think will be most useful at your place?
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