Taming the Toys

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Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!

— Dr. Seuss

The Grinch didn’t love Christmas. And he certainly didn’t love the idea of children playing happily with new toys on Christmas morning.

We moms, of course, are different. We love the holiday and we love to bless our children with new toys. Until December 26th rolls around and the toys are in one big, heaping mess!

Case in point:

Christmas is coming. And we best get prepared. Or we are going to have one big heaping mess on our hands. And there’s no quicker way to turn Mama into the Grinch than that.

At our house, I must confess, the Toy Monster is just barely reigned in. Just barely.

We have an entire garage (single car, of course) lined with shelves holding toys, books, and school supplies. We’ve got large, clear Sterilite boxes for Playmobil, for Lego, for Duplo, for train pieces, for dress-up. We’ve got a system.

But quite frankly, the system doesn’t seem to be working.

There, I said it.

When the toys are all gathered in the garage, I’m safe. But, my kids don’t really get to play and use their imaginations. When the toys are in the house, it seems that the place is crawling with bricks and baby dolls.

I think part of the problem may be that there are six children of varying ages and ranges of interest playing in this house. The two year old and the teenager are not going to play with the same items, so we have a wide range of toys and playthings. But, truly, I just may go insane.

So, help a girl out.

What do YOU do to tame the toy mess at your house?

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  1. With no playroom and two of ours sharing a room (boy and girl, mind you), we have to purge perhaps more than the average family. Before “birthday season” just before Christmas, my kids know the deal: each must get rid of one kitchen trash bag full of stuff. It’s the only way new toys come in their space. Also, if clean-up time is not working, I get to get rid of what’s left on the floors (I usually just purge the cheap stuff and papers!)

  2. I have no idea and frankly I’m scared. I have a 5 year and 3 year old twins who have a birthday a week after Christmas. I have lots of tubs to keep the toys organized but that’s only when I put them away. Usually, they’re all over the family room floor and no one wants to clean them up. How can I get away with not giving them anything new for Christmas??? Bah Humbug!

    1. @Kim, I think that is the trick. We need to be strategic about what we give. “Do I really want to pick this up?”

  3. Shut the door and ignore them.

    Seriously. I have grand ideas of a totally organized toy “room”. But my ideas are far from reality and they remain a strewn mess. (The idea that my kids will return the toy to the proper “home” when done playing is unrealistic for me as well!)I am fortunate enough to be able to literally shut the door and ignore them. Ha!

    If I were strong enough to follow through on my own convictions, I would simplify the amount of toys we retain. The classic/traditional/useful toys would stay and the temporary, glorified toys would go out the door or not be allowed to come in. Minimalize. But, like you said, we love to bless our kids with fun toys so it’s hard to say no to the requests at Christmas time.

    In our house, we have one “Ken” and three “Barbies” ages (boy first) 10 to almost 2. Waaaay more toys for the girls.

    As a solution to the ever-growing toy bomb – we narrowed down how many babies we needed. We went from 16 to currently, 4 (I think?). Stuffed animals were reduced in similar manner. (Is it just me or do these things breed when put away?) Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, toy kitchen dishes – same practice – how many must we have? I have also considered watching what my kids play most and gradually reduce the choices, especially since my anxiety grows as they open their Christmas gifts and wonder where they’ll go every year?

    And lastly, our idea to overcome the onslaught of more toys at Christmas this year is giving our kids a musical instrument of their interest and provide the lessons through the year for them. This will also give our family a common interest and activity we can enjoy and spend time doing together while building memories.

  4. We haven’t really figured it out yet either, but I try to keep the chaos reigned in. Our kids are 3, 1.5, and 4 mos so we mostly have toddler toys. Every so often I go through the toys and give away a few. I also keep them as contained as possible (2 bookshelves, 1 toy box, 1 duplo table, 1 dollhouse, 1 car, 1 music table, and 2 wipe boxes.) We have a 900 sq ft house too so there isn’t much room for lots of toys. I just don’t get attached so it’s easy to throw out stuff. 🙂

  5. I think the only way to tame the toys is to get those children all grown and out of the house!! Mine are 12 – 18 and the only one with a consistently clean room on any given day is the 18 year old – who is off at college.

  6. I have 4 boys, ages 8-1.5. I think it helps I don’t have to have ‘boy’ toys and ‘girl’ toys. We manage toys really by having less. I have a boy with a birthday nov 26 and one dec 23 so I think that helps calm the crazy! I’m not going overboard for birthdays because its almost Christmas and Christmas doesn’t get crazy because they just got stuff for their birthdays. With all boys I don’t buy cheap plastic toys. They won’t last a week and I’m not wasting my money! The baby only has 1 or 2 ‘baby’ toys because he plays with all the big boy toys. Less is always more around here. The 3 big boys share a room and if all it does is cause clutter or get tossed around, the toy goes! We have 1 toy closet- the lower half of the hall linen closet. It has one bin for blocks, one for legos, one for vehicles and one for animals/action figures. If it doesn’t fit- it goes! All big trucks, bikes and scooters are kept in the backyard of course. That is really all the toys we have. I’m always looking for more ways to streamline and declutter though.

    1. @niki, What is a good way to store toys outside? Our bikes got rusty by staying in the yard, and the scooters are very sad looking. A supposedly indestructable baseball bat (plastic) just broke during play. It sure is easier to keep things outside though. They get enjoyed more!

      1. @Angela,
        Well I have the benefit of living in southern california where there’s not much rain or humidity. The boys bikes and scooters pretty much just stay in the yard. We’ve had some of them for 5 years with no problems. A little rusty chain and sun bleached but all usuable. My husband is a cyclist and is more expensive bikes are stored in a storage shed without any weather wear to them. I don’t know if that helps you at all.

        1. @niki, Thank you. 🙂 We live in a warm climate but have lots of rain and humidity. It’s good to know it can work though depending where you live! 🙂

  7. Here I was hoping as I scanned down to gain some wisdom! So at least now I know we are all in the same boat! I have a almost 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 7 week old. I have no idea how to contain the toys or what we are going to do with that age range. Especially keeping the ones not safe for the youngest out of where she can reach them.

  8. We have a “get one out- put one back” rule in our house. My daughter is allowed to play with anything she wants, but once she’s on to the next, she has to first completely pick the previous toy/game up and put it in the correctly labeled bin. I’d be lying if I said it worked 100% of the time. But I did start implementing this rule young and for the most part she seems to stick with it! I have a personal organization business and website. Anyone who is needing some extra helpful tips feel free to check it out! http://www.thingsputinplace.com

  9. I have no idea! Sometimes I feel like the toys are taking over our lives! But recently my two girls (5 and 2) weren’t playing well with their toys…throwing them, breaking them, etc, so I took ALL of them away. First of all, they hardly miss them. Second, they are able to earn back toys for SUPER good behavior. And Third, I’ve been able to easily get rid of some of them (the ones they don’t usually play with), since they can’t see me doing it. Out of sight, out of mind.

  10. I am working on getting the toys organized and under control at my house, too! I just started a “Conquer the Clutter Challenge” on my blog, http://www.homemakingmom.com. I just finished week 1 in which I gave my kitchen junk drawer a “make-over. ” My week 2 challenge is ironically “toys.” I have 3 boys ages 1, 5 and 11, so I am dealing with toys for children at three different stages of life. I will be reporting on my blog next week as to how my toy re-organization goes 🙂 Good luck to all of us!

  11. I was just whining to my mother about this….I feel like I must get the clutter out so I can focus on a meaningful holiday. For a month, I have been stealthily “editing” our belongings and gathering bags in my closet. I have had zero requests for what I weeded out! Now, to get someone to drop those bags off for me…

    1. @Mamabear, If you have a local freecycle, advertise those bags there and have someone come to you to pick them up! That’s my lazy way of getting rid of clutter!

  12. I love the get-one-out, put-one-back idea, but I lack the consistent follow-through to make it happen (I have 3-year-old twins). So more often than not, we have toys everywhere. We’re trying to get better at directing pickup each night so it doesn’t get totally out of control, but mostly we just step over things. The girls are good about picking up IF I monitor closely, but left on their own they seem to forget what they were picking up partway through and drift off to play with something else!
    So no advice, just commisseration.

  13. I don’t have any genius ideas, but a few things that definitely help around here are:
    1. Paring down the playroom- I had had ENOUGH last year and pared way, way down. It has been a blessing for the whole family.
    2. I allow NO toys in their bedrooms. None. (Well, except one stuffed friend for sleeping.) The mess- if there is one- stays in the playroom. 🙂
    3. I’ve made the move to a majority of consumable/charitable/experience gifts for the kids. It’s a beautiful thing!

    Now, don’t get me wrong… we still have more toys than we need. There’s not stopping the grandparents. 😉

    1. @JessieLeigh, We also have a playroom and don’t keep toys in bedrooms, but they are allowed in there during quiet time and then must be cleaned up before teatime. The playroom has shelves with the toys on them and some are in baskets and bins on the shelves. If all the shelves are full, we have to get rid of things before adding anything. We’re also considering rotating some of the large and worthwhile toys. Whenever we move things around, they get noticed again. Usually the children help us purge, but when I notice they don’t play with something we pass it along to a younger child. Toys left out after a warning to clean up go into time out and are sometimes gotten rid of completely.

    2. @JessieLeigh, Interesting… I have only one kiddo, so it seemed obvious to keep her toys and such in her bedroom. It might be worth trying, though, to stock a lot of her stuff in the guest room across the hall from her. As long as the bed is still accessible, I think that the guest room could be used as a playroom and toy storage pretty easily — especially since the only guests who stay there are grandparents, anyway, and they wouldn’t mind her coming in to get stuff. 😉

      Thanks for the inspiration to at least consider something that had never crossed my mind!

  14. We have a small house (will be 5 people, 900 sq ft) but are blessed with a semi-finished basement. I have a almost 3 year old, 10 month old and at the end of December we will have one more. Some of the solutions I have to combat the clutter of toys is having the rule “if you can get it out you can put it back” It use to be that we picked up our toys as soon as we went on to something else but my almost 3 year old has a speech delay (and other delays in communication) and didn’t grasp this concept, talk about temper tantrums! So instead at the end of the day we start clean up one hour before bed time and it usually takes 15 minutes. After that then we start our stories and bedtime routine. Even the 10 month old has to help since he can get the toys out now, hence the rule. Granted Mom and Dad are doing most of the cleaning up.
    I have ONE large tote and one small bin out at a time. I am lucky because my boys are somewhat in the same age range but the principle would work the same with your family. You could use one medium tote for each kid – or child range – filled with different items (like blocks, dolls, cars so they have different things to choose from but not the whole “toy store”) Every month or so I change out the bins so they have different toys to play with. I have separated some toys so some they are always playing with (example: I think we have EVERY little people set made, ever! So I have the farm set in one bin, the town items in another, the fish, boat and other water ones in yet another bin. That way they always have the Little People available – a favorite of everyone – but not the whole complete line made)
    We started making a big deal out of new toy day – kinda a small Christmas. We have a special breakfast, make sure ALL the toys are picked up and placed in the bins, then I take the box away while the kids are coloring and bring the new one up. I set it in the middle of the living room and let them get into the box and see what has been placed in this box.

  15. Love all the ideas. We only have one child, but a very small house with limited storage space. What helps is constantly going through toys and getting rid of broken/unused toys.
    She also has a birthday this month and Christmas next month. We know grandparents like to get toys so we try to buy non-toy things for gifts that she can use, but will also enjoy (i.e. she likes to help cook so we got her an apron..doesn’t need to take up space with her toys, but she will still really love it). Friends of ours also keep the toy collection from growing too much by only getting their children 3 Christmas gifts (they got lots of stocking stuffers as well though) because that is how many gifts baby Jesus got. We’ve stolen that idea from them as well.

  16. When the kids were small, we had a 1940’s ranch house with very little storage. It forced me to have limited items for them to play with and to limit our family when it came to gift giving.

    We had clear plastic bins with a photo and a label, and only 3 bins were available to play with at any given time (the bins were stored on the lowest shelf of the living room bookcase), the rest tucked away on a shelf in the garage. Every few months, I would wash all the legos, or what not, put them back in their bin and exchange out for a new bin of toys.

    Things that didn’t get a lot of play time were evaluated for either donation or to save for later when the child was a bit older and might enjoy it. They never had toys in their rooms – seriously cuts down on the clutter.They’re pre-teens and teens now, and their accumulation is greater than when they were young.

    We limit Christmas and birthdays to one gift per child per giver (believe me, it was not a hard sell for the g-parents); birthday parties suggest specific donations for the homeless shelter (this year is dental care; last year shampoo). No one, my kids or others, have complained about the manner in which we give gifts over the past 8 years. In fact, a lot of parents implemented similar scenarios for their kids parties too.

  17. If you figure this out, let me know! Please 🙂 We have a playroom which helps to keep the mess contained and a box system so theoretically there is only one box out/open/empty at a time but, yeah, that barely works. My 3 kiddos are all little too so cleaning up by themselves is hard. Lately, I’ve gotten into the routine of just not worrying about it in the day-to-day. I still expect them to ‘tidy up’ but the room isn’t perfect. Then once a month or so I clean the room (on a day when the kiddos are elsewhere) putting everything back in the correct boxes and purging. I also plan on going through the toys with the kiddos in the next week or so and let them choose things to give away. We will see how that goes. 🙂

    1. @Loni,
      Loni, the shelf system looks great! Is it bolted to the wall/do your boys climb it? I have twin 5yo boys and have resisted vertical storage b/c I fear that’s what they would do.

  18. Oh, and for the record – we have no play room. Our house is a little Cape Cod, built in 1948. We’ve got three bedrooms, and four kids (3 boys and a girl) with another boy on the way. We are ruthless about paring down toys, and Legos are the most popular toy here. So toys are either in the bedrooms or the living room. I have one SMALL basket in the living room, the cubbies in the boys’ room, and a basket under my daughter’s bed. That’s it. Having fewer toys IS NOT a bad thing. My kids use their imaginations!

  19. I “sneak” toys out of the bottom of the toy box when I realize they haven’t played with them in forever. I hold them in a rubbermaid bin in my laundry room for a while and if no one asks for it, it eventually gets pitched or given away. We still have way too much!!

  20. I have a similar system to yours, and am pretty strict about taking out one or two buckets at the same time, but returning everything before taking out another one.

    I also have had a “get a new toy, get rid of an old toy” mentality for years. That really helps.

    I encourage the kids to be givers, and allow them to give toys to kids who visit at my house.

    The misc. McDonalds types of toys are used at Sunday school for prizes (if appropriate) or put in a bag with a kids Gospel tract to give away.

    Truthfully, the biggest problem is me. I LOVE toys, I LOVE buying toys and I LOVE playing with toys. I have to resist my own temptations first. 🙂

  21. I actually wrote a post about how to attack the toy room. http://www.minimalistmoms.com/minimalist-target-the-toy-room/

    Basically, I get rid of what’s broken and what doesn’t get played with on a regular basis. I also warn my kids that Christmas is coming and new toys can’t come in until we get rid of some of the clutter we already have. And going forward I buy for quality not quantity because it totally bugs me that no one plays with anything they got last Christmas because it wasn’t quality stuff.

    It’s never something I feel “done” with. I’m always going through toys and seeing what I can get rid of, but I think it’s better that way.

  22. We limit how many gifts Santa brings the kids. He simply brings 3 gifts, one for thier soul, one for thier heart and one for thier mind. They also get 5 stocking gifts one for each of the 5 sense. One year one of my daughters got apricots for the taste gift. For birthdays we give our children a choice between having a party of getting a gift from mom and dad. Most years my kids choose the party. To cut down on the clutter we cull our toys seasonally when we do our clothing swap outs.

  23. When my kids were young I used plastic tubs and had a rotation system. I just watched the kids to see what they were playing with most and put the toys away that weren’t being played with. Then after a few months, while they were sleeping, I would swap the tubs. It was like they got new toys every few months. At Christmas, I would buy a new plastic tub (for any new toys they got) and let them play with the new toys for a while, then add them to the rotation.

      1. @Jessica Fisher,
        It works well when they are young, but as they get older they wise up and want them all. We also had a rule, no broken toys. Broken toys went in the trash. And we also recycled the toys through a toy swap with cousins.

  24. We had to deal with the toy monster, too. We really turned a corner when we changed our buying habits. We try to only buy quality toys that are heirloom type in their appeal. We look for things that encourage thinking, that truly engage them. (Legos, Knex, Wedgits, Rokenbok, and many wonderful games) We also focus on “tools” instead of toys whenever possible. When I say tools, I mean things that are useful and that they will continue to use for years. Examples for our boys are tools and camping equipment, or binoculars, two way radios, bows, etc. For our girls, we have given them cameras, bows, crafting kits and supplies, and last year the two youngest (9 and 11) received sewing machines.

    I spend money to buy storage containers specifically for the toy and then they have to put everything back up when they are finished.

    No matter what I do, though, it still requires their diligence to manage their things. If there are times the kids are not taking care of things, then it’s time to thin them out. So, we periodically have them go through things and give away the those they no longer “love.” It helps them learn to understand that it is okay to give things away after they have enjoyed them for a while.

    It’s not perfect, but it works as long as I stay engaged in the management.

  25. Each child has a toy bin. All the toys must fit within said toy bin. If toys don’t get picked up and mommy finds them the toys go into the shed or “toy jail” for a month. Additionally, I allow for toy overflow to go into the shed for a month. After a month the kids have to choose which toys stay and which get donated between bins and bags.

  26. Instead of “sneaking” toys out, I try to teach my boys (ages 8 & 5) about clearing out their clutter. So. When they want something new, I give them a box to fill with old things to get rid of (sometimes they sell them at a consignment shop, sometimes they are donated). This helps them to decide what is most important to them AND to learn about making a space for things before bringing them home.

    Sometimes I save out things I can’t bear to part with, but I keep them in “my area” instead of theirs… and am working to allow myself to allow them to let go of things.

    I didn’t learn to clean and declutter as a child, so while I’m learning the skill as an adult, I am also trying to teach my sons about it now, so they will have an easier time later.

  27. I was hoping to see some solutions in your entry!! 😛 I don’t have a garage, I live in an apartment, have 2 boys only 2 years apart and their toys are in 1 huge mess in the living room!!! I too have huge plastic boxes holding/ sorting the toys, but they get messed up really quickly! We do purge their toys every once in a while, but I really think we simply have to stop buying them toys!!! 😛

  28. For some reason tubs always intimidated me. Our two bedroom two kid house doesn’t have a lot of storage and our kids are two and eight-I never had the mental energy to grab a tub or buy one and we didn’t have enough toys of one kind to fill it. Our solution: we made winter boxes. I took five diaper boxes (smaller, stack easy, had a lot 🙂 and filled each with books, toys, a dvd and stickers. I did assembly style and made sure each box had things for both.Our rooms are neater and we’re ready for winter!

  29. well, I wish I had the answers and I have only ONE child…YIKES! And honestly, sometimes I think that is worse than a bunch of kiddlets… I mean, it is really easy to buy and acquire stuff (thank you Grammy!! LOL!) So, now that mine is 9 and is aware of MONEY … well, we’ve sold stuff on Ebay…mom gets a cut and he gets a cut and his bank account gets some too. It hasn’t been much…but he’d rather save and buy a video game or bigger and better Lego set than keep a bunch of Rescue Heroes…so that’s helped…Of course it’s made ME more work…sigh. Then there is the ABUNDANCE of books he has…so, I found a GREAT used book store…we take books there, he gets a store credit and then I reign that in and we go there for new books and the credit doesn’t expire so, what we turn in NOW may end up as a “treat” in 6 months… Then there is the “donate rule” I have put in place over the many years…. At his 9th bday, NINE items had to leave. And I mean REAL items… so we cleared out games that were for kids LOTS younger than him… We donate to our church nursery, pass on to the little one next door that doesn’t have that game or give to Salvation Army/Disabled Vets/Kidney Foundation etc. ESPECIALLY at Christmas I make him donate. I think it’s made him considerably more grateful than his friends…and it makes for a cleaner closet in his room…for now! lol!

    I do have to say, that except for Legos, thankfully, the toys do get smaller. He LOVES being on the computer. Those are small games…LOL! He loves to draw and create art so, that is easily stashable and I don’t have to kick it, step on it or bump it in the middle of the night… LOL!

    We’ve tried bins, boxes etc….nothing really WORKS GREAT….

    Like I said, I don’t have a miracle cure…but I hope I helped you feel less crazed… Have a great weeked!

  30. We go through them regularly and get rid of anything not used. We live in the country and so the children don’t play with toys that often. So, now I rarely buy new toys and certainly NOTHING with pieces (except Lego). For Christmas this year, I am making them all costumes! Much nicer than store bought and really beautiful. They love to dress up and storing costumes is so easy.

    1. @Jane, costumes are a fantastic idea. As are books, DVDs, educational games. I think I’m just being buried by legos and play kitchen.

  31. I was hoping you had the answer!

    I tried the plastic bins, but I was the only one who ever put the toys back in them. (Not even my husband helped.)

    Now my hope is that my husband will take the older two children (4 and 2) off for a couple of hours so I can go through all the toys. Some we need to get rid of, some just need to be reunited, and somehow all kinds of things end up in my daughter’s room. (Why are the baby’s toys in there?)

  32. Thank you so much for this post! I was beginning to think I was the only one! We have been taken over by toys! I have two girls, 6 and 5, and they are currently in the baby doll/barbie doll/bratz/littlest pet shop phase, you know all the toys with big pieces that take up a lot of room! They have a toy “closet” to store some of their toys out of their room, and currently I have them in bins. But that has not been a great solution because they cannot get their toys out without us, and if they try we end up with a room of spilled totes! lol

    I look forward to reading more organizing/calming the toy chaos solutions!

  33. My sister has a rule in their house that for every new toy you receive, you donate an old toy to charity. Works great!

  34. Kids don’t need too many toys. In fact, when there are too many toys immediately accessible, you may see your child sitting in the middle of the room, confused and unable to decide what to do. Or skipping from thing to thing every five minutes. Or whining about “boredom”.

    Rotation is key in our house. We have five or six toys out at a time, and that’s it. Everything else is put away. Every week I get out new toys and put the others away. Sometimes I let them pick what comes out for the week. It’s easier all around–they focus better when there are fewer toys and do authentic work/play rather than superficial. Plus, it’s not hard for them to clean up only five or six things, so there’s no battle about that.

    For Christmas and birthdays, there are four gifts: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. It really cuts down on the amount of toys…of course there’s really no helping the grandparents. Fortunately they do understand that we prefer quality wooden toys and “experiences” like music lessons, art camp, museum passes rather than lumps of colorful plastic.

    Good luck!

  35. Get a bullmastiff. We have a 160 lb Bullmastiff dog that eats anything left out. Yes, it is a pain sometimes when he gets the “good” stuff, but I have found that he really thins the herd of toys. My 6 yr old daughter is learning to clean up her toys before she goes to bed or else risks losing thing to Murdock (the dog).

  36. We have a 4 1/2 year old son and a neweborn (also a boy). We already have alot….too many toys in this house. It has over taken the boys’ bedroom and a small corner in the living room as well. Some summer toys are in the garage for playing with outiside as well.

    We have generous friends and family members that love our boys and love even more to spoil them with presents, mostly toys. We haven’t tossed any of our oldest son’s toys, so the younger one will already inherit a TON of toys…..but it seems like we are constantly adding to them for birthdays, Christmas, and other occassions.

    So this year, hubs and I spoke and decided we are pairing down on the toy thing. We decided to buy only items that the boys can use and enjoy, learn and are educational if they are toys. And we are trying to keep these items as small items that won’t take up more room in the house. We are also buying clothing, pajamas, books, etc. We bought only a few of those type items and are asking friends and family to please pay attention when you buy and not buy things like stuffed animals and such that aren’t ever played with but only collect dust. I have spoken to the family and they have agreed to let me veto toys that we do not think are educational or that the boys would like, etc. etc.

    As for hubs and I, we have pooled most of the money we would spend on presents this year and are spending it on something that can not be wrapped and placed under the tree. We are spending the money on a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge instead!!! The GWL is a hotel that has a HUGE indoor water park, and with winter fastly approaching, and our family who gets sitr happy and cabin crazy sometimes in the winter, this will be a wonderful respite. It will be something the boys will remember, enjoy, and talk about for a long time to come. Would they talk about that stuffed animal or other toys for that long??? NOPE. In fact, family members have decided to buy small items for the boys and then pitch in on our mini vacation by buying packages for the hotel that includes games, crafts, and a stuffed animal, etc. and others have decided to buy us gift certificates for food and souveniors, etc.

    Amy Jo

    1. @Amy Jo, What an amazing task you have successfully accomplished in getting friends and family to happily agree and join in on your new plan! What fun! Your water park fun sounds like a great gift for the family that is way better than a material gift!

  37. We are literally in the process of doing this RIGHT NOW. We have 5 children, ages 8, 5, 3, 2, and 3 months. And I’ll tell ya, we have had to make some tough choices. With that many children and a set of grandparents who like to buy whatever they can get their hands on, we simply cannot keep it all. Grandpa has even double bought things forgetting he had already bought them. :-/ So then we end up with 2+ of the same toy!

    We asked our children to tell us their 3 absolute favorite toys. We kept those.
    Then, we kept things like block sets, train set, baby dolls & kitchen toys.

    Much of the other misc. stuff just had to go. We got rid of 3 Little People sets (we had 5 different things!) We just could house them all without there being a total, chaotic mess. It wasn’t good for me, it wasn’t good for my kids.

    So, yes, even if it was a toy that may have been played with, even frequently, many toys went. With 5 children (well, 4 of whom actually play) at different levels, our children must learn contentment. And truly, our children worked with us as we purged, and they learned to let go of some of their stuff – even if they liked it. They are learning they can’t hold on to everything.

    There is really no easy answer for it. Ya know? You just gotta do the hard choice sometimes, but in the end it makes life much easier on everyone – not just mom. 🙂

  38. My kids are 4, 2, and 7m, so we have preschool toys, toddler toys, and baby gear out right now. Arg! The 2 year old will pick up if mom or dad picks with with him, but I have become ruthless with the 4 year old: at our house, if something is not important enough for her to take care of it, we get rid of it, either by putting it in storage or (gasp!) throwing it away right then and there. I have only had to follow through on that threat once or twice. Another thing that helps is declaring a regular clean up time before my husband gets home and we have dinner. If the toys are cleaned up by dinner time, then they have time to play a board game with Daddy after dinner. If not, then they spend that time finishing the cleaning.