Do you have too many toys in your house?  I know, that’s a silly question.  Of course you do!  We seem to keep bringing more and more in, and nothing goes out.  Even old toys that no longer get played with stick around forever.

If toys are taking over your house, follow these simple tips to managing a toy cleanout.

Every once in a while we have to take control of the mess and do a toy cleanout.  It’s not easy, especially when you have a child who has a tough time letting go of things.  Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Do it when the kids aren’t home.  If you have older kids who can actually be helpful in this process, you can have them help, but younger kids

2. Have a strategy. Do you remember that show Clean House?  Well, you need to tackle toy cleanout with the same precision they went through the homes of borderline hoarders.

Keep – As much as you may want to just toss everything out and reclaim your house from all things made of brightly colored plastic, you do need to keep some things around.  After all, if you get rid of all the toys, the only thing left for your kid to play with will be you.

You can design your keep pile around a certain number of toys, or a certain amount of space (once it’s full, it’s full), or however you want to do it.

Store – The guys on Clean House never had a store pile, but they were dealing with (semi-) rational adults, not children.  You’re going to want to store some favorite toys away in a memory box, or something like that.  Plus you want to consider keeping a small stash of toys hidden away to take out on days when you need some time to yourself or those long cold/rainy stretches when you can’t go outside for days on end.

Donate/Sell – Toys that are in good shape, but your child has outgrown can be sold or given away.  Check out local Facebook tag sale groups, Craigslist, children’s thrift stores, or have a tag sale yourself to make some extra scratch on those old toys.  In our area many charities don’t take toys, but you can find a needy family or donate to the department of children’s services.  I always try to sell first, then donate what doesn’t sell.

Trash – Kids are tough on toys, so don’t be surprised if many of the toys are not in good enough shape to donate or sell.  In that case, you can gleefully toss them in the trash and never look back.  Just be aware of your local trash collection policy and dispose of everything responsibly.

3. Get rid of the evidence.  Chances are your kid won’t even notice that 70% of their toys are gone.  As long as they have something to play with, they’re fine.  But if you leave big bags of toys lying around, you’re going to have a mini riot on your hands if you try to keep them from them.  Put the trash in the trash, and take it out.  Store toys to donate or sell in a place your child can’t get to, and put anything you’re keeping as a memento away before your little one comes home.

4. Explain.  Eventually your child is going to notice that some things are missing.  Instead of trying to convince her she’s crazy, just be honest.  “Well, darling, you’re toys were taking over the house and driving Mommy to drink.”  No?  Try something like, “You had so many toys you couldn’t even see them all.  So we’re going let other kids have a turn and use the money to get you some cool Christmas presents.”

5. Leave some for them.  Kids should be involved in giving away their toys.  Not the whole process, but some of it.  It helps them learn that they don’t need piles of stuff to be happy, and it starts them giving to those less fortunate early on.  Set a few toys aside that you’re not sure about giving away and let your child pick half to keep and half to give away.  We do this part around Christmas and leave the bag of toys for Santa to take and give to needy kids, but you can do it any time.

What’s your best toy cleanout tip?  Share in the comments.

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