Toy Purge 2015: A Summary

I have accepted the fact that I will never be a true minimalist.  I have to fight against my genetically-acquired OCD hoarding tendencies at every turn.  I’m what you might call a “collector” – especially in all things crafty.  You know, I might need that for some random project so I’m keeping it.  I’ll just buy another bin or basket; at least then I look organized.  I can APPEAR to be more minimalist than I really am.  With tact.

As many of you know, I recently did a very large toy purge in my home … I took advantage of the first week of school when my oldest (“the rescuer”) would be out of the house for 3 days straight.  I employed some strategies which I thought would be helpful for those of you who, like me, feel like you’re drowning in a sea of excess that never gets played with anyway, but fight against the sentimentality that would have me keep EVERY. LITTLE. DUMB. THING.  I’m cursed with the “remembering” – I seem to remember who gave my kids every toy and for what occasion.  It might be broken, but their aunt/uncle/friend gave it to them and oh man alive, that makes it special.

Good heavens, get over yourself mama.

So, in the spirit of camaraderie and support, I’m sharing my methods.  It was madness, to be sure, but I did have methods.

First, here’s how I started … we have toys in the basement, living room and kids rooms.  I had to decide to methodically go through each area one at a time and purge/re-assign.

Here’s some “before” photos …

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As you can see, the living room toy baskets are overflowing.  Very often a mandatory “pick up the living room” would simply result in the top baskets getting everything thrown into them.  No bueno.

The basement wasn’t much better. The “rainbow shelves,” as I called them, were just a catch-all of all kinds of random junk.  I called the shelf “an enabler” – it allowed me to keep things I shouldn’t keep, just because there was “a shelf” to hold them.  No bueno.

The first thing I had to decide was, what toys do I absolutely want to KEEP???  This made things much easier.  Anything that didn’t fit into these categories was pitched.  I literally would go through a basket or a bin and pull out all the “keepers” (thank you, Toy Story 3) and then dump the rest of the junk (YES, mother, JUNK) into the Goodwill bags.

So what did I keep?  This will vary based on your kids.  I figure I know my kids best, I’m home with them all the time, and I know what gets played with.  Here’s a basic list of what we KEPT {there were a few exceptions, but they had to be large items without a lot of pieces}:

  • dinosaurs
  • super heroes
  • Star Wars anything
  • dress-up clothes
  • Little People (the toys, not the vertically challenged)
  • puzzles & games (as long as we had all the pieces)
  • toy tools (Daddy is carpenter, after all)
  • Legos (including MegaBloks & Lego Duplo)
  • toy food
  • things that “go” – including Hot Wheels cars and some airplanes (too many pieces = pieces lost = Goodwill)
  • Nerf Guns (we have quite a few)

Once I decided on this list, going through everything was easy, I actually managed to do all 3 major areas of the house within a little more than one nap time.  My middle child only managed to “rescue” one little thing from my bags.

Here’s a photo of the process, as I worked in the living room: IMG_6857

The big black trash bags were for Goodwill (so kids couldn’t see what’s in them!), middle bag was stuff going up to the Bigs room (dress up clothes & Legos), and right side was baby toys & Kid #3’s room (he’s 2).  All the Little People got moved into a toy box in his room.

I should add that earlier in the summer I purged through all the kids books.  We have a crap-ton of those too because I’m always like, “hey you can never have too many BOOKS … right?!”  Well turns out some of them drove me absolutely bonkers when I had to read them … so they had to go.  How’s that for a standard?!  Bonkers = donate.  The End.

Moving along with the toy purge … here’s the “after” photos of the living room.  The top basket on the left has the bucket of Hot Wheels cars and the dinosaurs too big to fit in the baskets below.  The right top basket has some Nerf guns, Pirate Ship and camo bag full of MagaTiles (great investment if you’re looking for a gift!).  The bottom baskets have Things That Go, Star Wars, Super Heroes, Tools, Dinosaurs and Misc.  None of them are completely full. (YAY!)

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Here’s the after photo of the basement – notice the “Rainbow Shelf” is completely empty!  I actually sold it to a friend for her girls Barbie toys and stuff.  Apparently girl moms have an even bigger problem with toys-with-too-many-small-pieces! HA!

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Here’s how Kid #3’s room ended up.  Toy bin with all the Little People (ok, I had more than I realized, but they’re pretty ageless and also gender neutral, so how can you go wrong???), the Zoo Talkers (Little People) jungle and the Little People cars thing. The closet has a great Cubeicals shelf that holds MegaBloks, Lego Duplo, wood ABC blocks, little kid puzzles & some other misc.  The top of the closet holds a 31 bin for painting stuff and a 31 bin for Play-Doh – both things I don’t want my kids to have unlimited access to.  Plus some diapers and un-fun stuff.

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I also have some Dollar Store clear shoe-box bins that I’m planning to make “Quiet Time” boxes out of.  Since Middle Child doesn’t nap every day, he needs some things to occupy him while Kid #3 is napping.  The idea is to have special toys/activities in there that are ONLY for that time of day.  Here’s hoping.

Basically my goal was to “make everything have a home.”  Isn’t that what all the experts advise?  It’s not easy, my paper clutter is another matter entirely.  Now, I just need to get my 3 boys on board (wait, make that FOUR boys including the Hubs) with where things need to be put back to …

So … what do you think?!

Would these strategies work for you?

What strategies have you used to keep your toy clutter under control?  I would love your feedback!

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