The holidays are now (dare I say finally?) in our rearview mirror. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the holiday season. I cherish time spent with our family, the traditions shared, and, of course, the delicious food. Yet, when it’s all said and done, my introvert heart is always relieved when the festivities have come and gone.
The passing of the holidays also leads to what is one of my favorite activities: organizing and purging toys from the playroom.
Truthfully, I tear through my children’s’ clothing and toys several times throughout the year. But perhaps the most important time to consolidate and declutter toys is following the sometimes overwhelming onslaught of lovely things our children received from their wonderful friends and family.
I like to attack this monumental task in four parts:
- Pre-holiday downsizing
- Donations and consignment
- Post-holiday consolidation
I like to get a head start before the holidays have even arrived, but don’t worry! There is always time to jump in.
Pre-Holiday Decluttering and Organizing
Before the holidays I go through our toys and clothes, and I clean out any broken or odd bits and pieces. If they hang around, they inevitably become clutter. My oldest son generally enjoys this process even if he sometimes gets hung up on an item here or there.
Donations and Consignment
This year, I began to include my three-year-old in this part of the process. After talking to him about the joy of giving and why we donate things, he eagerly agreed to help me find items for us to bring to the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS). We do this by finding items in his toys he could sell to earn money for pet items. It’s great for him to pick a toy he doesn’t use, bring it into a place like B2B, and earn a few dollars he can choose to either save or put towards a donation item. He’s only three, but he generally gets it and was so eager this year to begin collecting things for the NHS.
We set out a small bin and slowly begin to accumulate items for him to consign. We also ask family members for old pet items they no longer used and any unwanted towels or blankets. He slowly filled the box since before Christmas with new and used items. We will soon drop it off! In our house, donations, and consignment happen year-round because it’s such a wonderful way to minimize and declutter and helps instill a sense of generosity in our children.
The next step and this tends to be mommy-and-daddy-only, is to make a quick sweep through new toys to downsize any replicates or items you simply don’t need. My children are generally excited about new gifts to part with them right away, so this is something I do alone. It is usually a quick and simple process, but important so that redundant or inappropriate items don’t simply find their way to that pile that somehow always accumulates no matter how I try to stave it off.
The holidays are overstimulating enough for children without perpetuating the stimulation through an excess of toys. We have a fairly small play area and toy storage space in our home, but we found our kids play and toys get utilized most fully when only a few items are available at a time. The rest are stored out of reach for rotation.
We have open shelves where we keep a constant supply of books as well as carefully chosen items that are either favorites like building blocks or Legos, developmental or educational items, or something new and fun from our rotation stock. The rest of the items are stored out of sight and as organized as I can manage.
Every few months I slip in after my boys are asleep, pick out a few “new” toys, and swap them out. This strategy never fails to improve their engagement and ability to play independently, and they are simply so excited to wake up to see a fresh set of items!
Time to Declutter
I encourage you to try out a few of these ideas for this new year. Remember, these are strategies that work well for me and my, honestly, somewhat excessive desire for organizing and minimizing, my family, and our home.
You will find ideas that work best for you, your family, and your space. It’s not perfect, but the intention to declutter, organize, and donate or consign items we don’t need or use has helped keep our home fresh and organized. At least as much as is possible for a house with two busy boys and fluffy dogs!