Day 9 of the 12 Days of Planning: Declutter the toys

I love having a few lazy days after Christmas but, with only a few days to go before New Year's Day, I start itching to get organising and the first thing I like to do is attack the kids' toys.

It doesn't seem to matter how much I cut back on the number of toys we buy for the kids at Christmas, they still seem to amount to a large number thanks to friends and family. So before the new items take up official residence in the house, I like to go through and remove the same number of old toys we already own with a 'one toy in, one toy out' system if I can manage it.

When the kids were younger, I found that I couldn't do this effectively with their 'help'. They would swear to me that that toy, buried at the bottom of the toy trunk, missing a leg and an eye, is their absolute favourite and they definitely couldn't part with it. So I realised early on that this was a task to do on one of those rare moments when they were all out of the house.

I would create four piles:

1. Toys to give to friends and family

For those terrific toys that the kids loved but have simply outgrown. We were given some fantastic hand-me-down toys over the years and I love to now be able to do this for my nephews, nieces and friends, but they have to be really great toys - think timber Thomas The Tank Engine sets. Otherwise you'll just be passing on your junk to someone else.

2. Toys to donate

If you can, grab a big box, toss in toys that are no longer needed but are clean and in good condition, and put it straight into the car, ready to be donated.

3. Toys to put in the shed way, way up on the top of the hill

Living on a farm, we have this luxury but a garage would do just as well!

Here I would put:

  • toys that the kids aren't playing with anymore but that I don't think we're ready to part with just yet. Then during the next school holidays or on a rainy day, I would bring them back down from the shed and it would be like Christmas all over again! Of course, this would be the moment to stash another set of toys back up in the shed when the kids aren't looking, and so the circle of shed toys continues.

  • toys that I'm fairly sure the kids have outgrown but I'm not confident enough to give away just yet. One of my kids in particular has a very good memory and once she begins asking where something is, she won't give up. This way I have a buffer - if they don't ask for the toy for a few months, I donate it.

4. Toys to throw away

You need to be quite ruthless here - if it's broken and cannot be fixed, or is in some other way unable to be donated, it's time to throw it away. Just don't leave them lying around in transparent bin bags for the kids to see - sometimes I wonder if my kids have X-ray vision, they seem to have an uncanny way of knowing that one of their toys is in that bag of rubbish on it's way out to the wheelie bin.

Hopefully you now have some clear space so give everything a dust, clean and vacuum. Then, as you move the new toys in, organise what you have by finding a place for everything. Use bins and baskets to corral like toys - stuffed toys in this one, toys cars in that. It will make it easier to get the kids to tidy up as well.

So before all of the new toys get mixed in with the old, get decluttering - there's no feeling like it!!


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