Decluttering Toys: Our Moderately Minimalist Toy Collection
Decluttering toys is a hot topic among moms today. Minimalism seems to be a lasting trend as so many are seeing and wanting the benefits of owning less stuff, especially families with young children.
When left with a limited selection of the best toys for them, children will play for hours without you needing to push and prod them.
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The book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne further explores the positives effects of less on children. The fewer toys they have, and the less specific those toys are, he explains, the better they play.
What do I mean by “specific”? I mean toys that are too detailed, that force kids to play with them in one specific way.
When you declutter your toys, those you choose to keep will vary depending on your family size, whether you have boys or girls, and your children’s personalities.
But remember: the best toys are the ones that can be played with in a million different ways.
Decluttering is lifestyle, not an event
When I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I started tossing toys left and right. Toy after toy went into garbage bags for donation. Broken toys hit the trash can. I listed toys on craigslist. I practically begged friends to take them off our hands.
After the first go around, I felt accomplished. I checked it off my decluttering list and moved on.
But I quickly realized that toy decluttering is not a one and done event, but an ongoing process. As a mom with multiple kids of both genders, I wrestled with the types of toys to keep. Gradually, I pared our collection down again and again and again.
So what made the cut? See what survived our toy decluttering process:
Our Moderately Minimalist Toy Collection
We were gifted an initial collection of blocks, but you can start with a basic set like this one. These classic toys are perfect for children of any age, unlike their LEGO counterparts. Because we have such a large collection and our youngest played with them starting around 7 or 8 months, we chose to get rid of the majority of our baby toys.
(Storage: See this post)
2)LEGO Bricks & Sets
The benefits of playing with LEGOs are too numerous to list here. We recently inherited quite a large collection from my brother, and our kids play and build with them for hours.
Certain kids can enjoy sets, but in accordance with the age levels listed, they do take a level of patience to interpret the directions and persevere through the end of the manual.
Kids of almost any age, however, can enjoy building new creations from scratch, so long as they have stopped trying to swallow them!
(Storage: See this post)
We invested in these magna-tiles last Christmas after seeing them at a friends’ house, and I don’t think we have made a better toy purchase to date. We normally hesitate to spend so much on a toy, but these have been well worth the cost.
They play with these tiles almost daily and for extended periods of time. They come up with the most creative ways to use them, as well.
Families with one or two children may only need one set, but we quickly saw that one set divided by three kids (and eventually four) left too few tiles to build larger structures. We purchased a second set shortly after getting the first.
(Storage: These bins)
Balls are a classic toy all over the world. They promote playing together but can easily be used for individual play as well.
We kept an assortment, from bouncy balls to soccer balls. We also gave Micah this over-the-door basketball hoop for his birthday last year, and we were impressed by its quality and sturdiness.
(Storage: IKEA TORKIS Laundry Basket)
While cars have recently fallen from favorite status, we keep them because they’re classic.
One of our kids played with them constantly for several months, carrying around certain ones in his backpack everywhere he went. He played with them like Little People, giving them names and carrying on dialogues between them.
You never know what toys kids will gravitate towards, which is why I recommend a moderate approach to decluttering and minimalism.
(Storage: IKEA Knipsa Basket in Seagrass)
What childhood is complete without dress-up?
We try to steer clear of costumes that restrict their imaginations to one character. So rather than purchase a specific superhero outfit, I keep generic capes and masks instead.
Our collection includes an assortment of hats, a variety of accessories such as construction and doctor tools, as well as skirts, scarves, ties, and vests.
We have one girl, so these constantly made the cut, though not without debate. Even boys, however, can benefit from playing with dolls. They could even fit into the dress-up category, really, as all our kids enjoy playing “family” and use these in their pretend play.
These days, with a toddler in the house, playing board games can be a frustrating challenge. However, I love gameschooling, and one day, the kids will be bigger and more able to play well together. So we continue to add to our board game collection through thrift stores and yard sales.
I personally love game board boxes and mourn when they break. For storage alternatives to boxes, however, check out this idea over at The Intentional Mom.
9)Art & Craft Supplies
My approach to arts and crafts has changed over the years. I used to have everything under the sun: pom poms, shapes, stickers, pieces of paper, glitter, glue, etc. out and available at all times. After multiple half hour long cleaning sessions, I finally decided my sanity needed a change.
Now, I keep one stash of supplies that I only can handle once in a while hidden in a cupboard. Drawing paper (Staples penny paper stocks us year round for pennies) and drawing supplies are easily accessible on the kitchen table. Extras like dot art, scissors, glue, and stickers are kept in a bin close by – out of sight, but easy for the kids to get themselves.
(Storage: These bins)
Interest in puzzles comes in waves. If I pull them out, they can do the same ones over and over again for hours. I try to look for wood puzzles like these ones for the little years – our wood ones have lasted several years now. Dollar store cardboard ones? Not so much.
I hope to add to our collection over time and look forward to the day when we can all work on one with 1,000 pieces (and not have it destroyed)!
(Storage: Similar to this bin)
As I said at the beginning, what toys you choose to keep is a personal choice based on you and your kids’ personalities. Hopefully, our collection gives you a starting point and inspiration to declutter your toys.
In the interest of full disclosure, we do still have a small box of play food and dishes (from when we got rid of our playkitchen), but they rarely make an appearance. We also have small bags of Little People prepared for long car trips. We keep these things as back-ups for things like illness, births, long trips and emergencies. And like most families, we have outdoor toys like scooters and bikes, chalk, and bubbles.
A Word on Minimalism
Minimalism can seem off-putting at times because some people take it to extremes. But as my blog name communicates, I’m all about balanced simple living.
Don’t be afraid to go down the path to minimalism because of extremist examples. You don’t need to follow anyone else’s rules. Embrace the general principles, and examine your own circumstances. Take what you need; leave the rest.
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne
The More of Less by Joshua Becker
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Organized Simplicity: The Clutter Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider
*If you’re curious how I went about decluttering, what didn’t make the cut and how I decided what to get rid of, I’m happy to write a guide for decluttering toys. Just leave me a note in the comments!
Posted by June Doran