When my daughter was only six months old, I found myself with baskets and baskets full of toys —and things only seemed to get worse as she grew older. I got to the point where I was so totally tired of cleaning up these toys—especially because she barely seemed to play with most of them.
And that's when I decided to get rid of almost all of her toys.
I suddenly found myself more at peace, with less to clean and in little time I saw my daughter begin to finally play with the toys she did have. This saved me so much frustration.
Here's what I learned (and now do) to keep us from getting back to that place of too many toys:
1. Buy toys only on special occasions (or not at all)
It's so easy to see a toy on sale or to give in to the constant whining and buy a toy. But before you give in, try to remind yourself of the number of toys you already have at home and resist the urge. Instead, find another activity or form of reward—a trip to the park, to the ice cream place, to laser tag, etc.
2. Create a wishlist with your child
Instead of buying a toy your child wants, or you think they will like right away, create a wishlist with your child that you can hare with family for birthdays and holidays. I have an Amazon wishlist for both my children with the toys they want (or I want them to have) and I send it out to my family a couple weeks before birthdays and Christmas.
Try as much as you can to limit the amount of toys your child is allowed to have on the list. Go through the list with them and ask them to pick their absolute favorites. Maybe five max? Find the right number that works for you .
3. Get your kids involved in a toy garage sale
If your kids are a bit older, get them involved in a toy garage sale where the money they get from the sale will go to one new toy they can have. This process will teach your kids a little bit about making money and working— and it will incentivize them to get rid of some of their old toys.
You'll be surprised at how easily they can let go when it means they can have something new. If you don't have the space for a garage sale, team up with a mom friend who does and do a joint sale with friends.
4. Ask relatives for experience-based gifts
For my daughter's second Christmas, we asked our family to gift us a registration to a toddler class instead of toys—and my daughter loved it. I took photos at the class and sent them to our family every week to show them the exciting new things she was learning—and so they truly understood that it was a gift that kept on giving.
Express to your family how much your child loves a specific activity and how gifting them a related experience can be a great gift that your child will love.
5. Donate and get rid of the toys that are no longer being used
I totally understand how difficult this one can be to do, depending on how busy we all get. But if you can do a big clean, take a day and then plan for a donation drop-off. If you can only get rid of a few things throughout the year, then that's all you can do, and that's okay. My most helpful strategy is that I clean out our home and donate toys and unnecessary "stuff" before birthdays and holidays.
It may feel like a small step, but it's actually huge—you've made a commitment to start decluttering your home of toys that don't provide your family with a purpose. Plus, if you involve your children in the donation process, they will begin to understand the importance of giving back to the community.
You've got this, mama.