It’s hard to organize things for people who think about things differently than you. Your children and their toy clutter are no exception. Just because a kid popped out of your body doesn’t mean they can maintain an organizing system you designed. In fact, because you are their parent, they probably don’t want to even if they could!
toys clutter, professional organizer, get organized
Our challenge as parents is to play to our kids’ strengths and to keep systems as simple as possible. The only exception to this rule is if you have a child who color-codes their toy storage and gets excited about helping you unload the dishwasher. If you have an organized child on your hands, you should stop reading this right now and go read a post on what to do with all of your free time.

For the rest of us who don’t have soon-to-be professional organizers for children, controlling toy clutter should focus on 3 things:

1. Reduction: Constantly thin out your kids’ toy collections.
2. Containment: Create a simple storage system for all the toys.
3. Routine: Make time every day to quickly clean up toys around the house.

Reduce

Do you think your children have too many toys?
They do. All American kids have too many toys. There are toys they never play with. Toys they’ve forgotten about. And toys they’ve outgrown. There are probably even a few that are damaged or broken.

Make it a point to regularly prune your kids’ toy collections. Small kids tend to fall in love with whatever toy is in front of them, even ones they haven’t played with in months. If your kids are under 7 years old, it’s a good idea to thin out their toy clutter while they’re in school or out of the house. See this video for a great example of organizing during school hours. If your children are older and have a better understanding of charity, you can involve them in the process and emphasize the importance of donations*. Even with kids over 7, some personalities are just not into it and you may have to do some sneaky removing.

As you sort through all the toys, use 3 containers for your piles.

Pro tip: Placing items directly into a bag or trash can as you sort saves time because you only handle each item once. Click To Tweet

Toy clutter donated
Donate bag: High quality toys in good condition but are no longer played with or wanted. This includes toys your kids have outgrown.
Trash can: Sadly, most donation places do not accept kids’ toys because the retail prices (and quality) of most toys is already so low that people don’t shop for second hand toys anymore. Most of your toy clutter will go in the trash.
Hide box/bin: Toys you’d like to get rid of but that your young children may miss. Also good for a toy rotation if you do that.
When you’re done, put the date on the hide box and store it out of view. If your kids don’t ask about anything in the box after a few weeks, it’s probably OK to send the toys to a new home.

Drive the donations to your favorite, local donation center right away. If you don’t have time right away, at least put the bags in your car.

Pro tip: Prune your children’s toy collections around their birthdays or the holidays. The excitement of new toys helps speed the grieving process over losing the old ones. Click To Tweet

Contain

Once you’ve thinned the toy collection, it’s time to organize. Containers, bins, and boxes, stored close to the ground, are the best storage option for kids’ toys. Decide what should go where and label each bin. Keep the categories broad and generic. Remember, you want to keep it as simple as possible so they can clean up their own toys. Leave off the lids on containers for easy clean-up.

Pro tip: Labeling is helpful, but optional. If your children are very young, take photos of their toys and attach the pictures (along with the name of the toy) to the bins in lieu of a label. This will help them identify which toys should go in which box even before they’re able to read

Create a routine

Make a quick toy cleanup part of your kids’ evening routine. Treat it as though it’s just as important as dinner and bath time. When your kids pick up their toys, reinforce the behavior with a positive comment like,

I’m proud of you for remembering to pick up your toys.

or,

Your room looks so nice when all your toys are put away.

or,

Taking care of your toys helps them last longer.

If you have a few nights (or weeks) of toy chaos, relax. It happens! Regroup and start the process over.
Reduce the number of toys, contain the collection, and resume your cleanup routine.

Thanks for reading! I appreciate you taking time to join the conversation about toy clutter with me. How do your kids respond to organizing their toys? Have you found a chore that even a not-so-organized kid can handle?
Sincerely,

-Nonnahs

*Get Organized Already works with kids over 7 to take the parent-child drama out of the equation. Call today to get some professional help for your toy clutter 323.230.0297

Click here to sign up for our 5 part series on chores which includes lists of age-appropriate chores and motivation for you, as a parent, to start having your kids help around the house. The series is called

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This article was updated on July 2, 2106 to include the cute teddy bear picture and the 5 part chore series. Be sure to check that out!

4 Comments

  • Toy clutter is really on my mind at the moment as I order even more for Christmas to add to the chaos! I’m really try to go for activity type gifts this year though as well ‘get out in the fresh air’ type toys to keep the indoor toy stock down somewhat. Great ideas, although how to do manage to keep the dust at bay with open containers?

    • Chloe,
      How do I keep the dust at bay? Fewer bins. The bins that are out are getting used nearly every day so the movement of little hands and pieces takes care of the dust. Honestly. I’m about simplicity and self-sufficiency for kids, not necessarily a dust-free play room. Also of note, in the majority of my clients’ homes, dust is the least of the problems in the toy room!

      • See that’s my trouble. As my son’s 10 he doesn’t get much time to play each day with homework and after school activities. At the weekend, there’s more time but by then the dust is piling up. He’s also got too many toys. Maybe I’ll just keep out the ones that are current favorites and store the rest in his closet.

Your thoughts please