If your house is anything like mine, you have a ridiculous amount of toys scattered everywhere.  I wrote about this a while back when I discovered that, when it comes to toys, less is often more.  Some of those toys are childhood classics and educational wonders.

Junk 3

Many of them, however, are junk.  Cheap junk you got from a carnival, happy meal, or as a favor from a party.  In fact, I would say that a majority of toys Miss O has would fall into the category of cheap junk.

Of course, some of this is by necessity.  I’m not going to buy a $100 pair of maracas for a small child, I’ll get her a pair from Dollar Tree so when she breaks/ throws/ loses one I don’t care.  But if I don’t care if it gets thrown out, why buy it in the first place?

Well, I’m making a pledge.  I am no longer going to be held hostage by cheap junk.

I know what you’re thinking; That sounds great, but how are you going to do it?  That’s a little tougher.  Kids seem to attract cheap toys like I attract mosquitoes.  I’ll never stop the flow completely, but I can change how I deal with it.

Stop buying junk.  I hate to admit it, but a great deal of the junky toys in our house were put there by yours truly.  I pick up little things at the dollar store, the Target One Spot, or other similar places.  I filled Miss O’s Christmas stocking with junk just for the pleasure of watching her open one more thing.  And now I’m swimming in it.  If my goal is really no more cheap junk, I have to stop buying junk.

Just say, “No, thank you.”  There’s no reason we have to take a gift bag full of junk home from every party we go to.  Really, there’s no reason hosts need to feel obligated to give us gift bags at all.  I’ve never understood the idea, honestly.  A polite, “No, thank you,” will do when offered a bag of goodies.

Purge.  Without mercy or worrying about whose feelings will be hurt.  Get rid of all the cheap toys you own.  That cracked tambourine?  Toss it.  The happy meal toy that was entertaining at the table and never touched again?  Gone.   The sunglasses with one arm?  Bye bye!  Not only will your house be neater, but they toys that remain will get more play time because your kid won’t have to dig through piles of crap to find them.

Repeat.  Getting rid of cheap toys is going to be an ongoing quest.  You’ll never be done as long as you have kids living at home (or a husband).  You have to keep working at it.  Keep saying, “No, thank you.”  Keep tossing toys that aren’t worth the space they take up.

Practice what you preach.  Kids aren’t the only ones who amass piles of junk.  We do it, too.  Tag sale stuff, flea market stuff, hand-me-downs, gifts, and impulse buys add up to one big pile of junk that we don’t know what to do with.  It feels wasteful to throw it away, but it’s not good enough to sell or donate… so we keep it.  Instead, try to set a good example for your kids and clean out all that stuff.  You’ll all be better off!

Of course, this is easier said than done.  Sometimes we get so comfortable with our mess that, no matter how much we complain, we’re hesitant to get rid of it.  I totally get it.

And if your kids favorite toy right now happens to be a cracker jack prize, don’t feel guilty for letting him keep it.  The idea is to get rid of things that are just taking up space and not serving a purpose.  Eventually that little piece of plastic will be replaced by something else, and you can get rid of Little Orphan Annie’s decoder ring guilt free.

Do you have any secrets for keeping cheap junk out of your house?  Share in the comments.