A Guide to De-cluttering & Organising Your Toys
Ugh the toy room (insert: equally messy space within your house filled with toys!) Every parent goes through the same thought - we need to clean out our old toys. Well there is no time like the present. Literally. We are all stuck at home social distancing so the time to Marie Kondo the toys is now! Let's look at some tips and easy ways to manage your toy library.
Stage 1 - Considerations When Organising Your Toy Room
Okay - you're in the mood to do this. You head to the space with containers, buckets and garbage bags in tow. Where to begin?
- Mindset - be ruthless. If you go in thinking about all the lovely times your child has had with every toy, you will achieve nothing. That's not to say cull everything. Use the questions we list below as a guide to ask yourself "What do they really NEED?"
- A label maker is king. Be warned however, once you start you won't stop labeling everything and anything. It is a great item to have, in particular if you intend to start doing a toy rotation (of which we will get to later).
- Start by removing any puzzles and board games. They ideally should be kept away from children so the risk of losing a piece is minimised. I cannot tell you (and I'm sure you know from experience) how annoying it is to get to the end of a puzzle with one piece missing ... grrrr.
Stage 2 - How to Sort Your Toys
Right - you're now ready for the action phase. Sorting & making piles! My four personal go-to piles are: KEEP, GIVE AWAY/SELL, DONATE or BIN. In order to sort there are a few questions that you can ask yourself that will help:
- Is the item sentimental to you or your child? For example, is it the first plush toy you or their grandparents gave them?
- Is the toy played with?
- Will the child miss it?
- Is it age appropriate for that child or will it be useful in the future for younger children?
Once you have answered these questions, it is time to segment them into your four piles:
Set these items aside for the next stage of cleaning and packing away.
Give Away or Sell
Generally, you will find items in your stash that are still in fantastic condition (or let's be honest, have never been played with). These items I find are perfect to hand down to friends or family members who have children in the appropriate age group.
If you are looking for some pocket money, this is also the pile to look at for selling your items. Facebook Marketplace is a great place as it's easy to use and you can promote on your personal Facebook page. Gum Tree is also a good platform to use, particularly for larger items.
Okay ... it's the donate pile. Items that are still in good shape, maybe missing the packaging or a piece of the set, but it still has a lot of life left in it! We all know about Vinnies and The Salvation Army but you can also find a local community day care centre or toy library that is looking for donations of good quality items for their reserve.
Just a few notes - although it's a great idea, hospitals do not look for donations at this level. The predominantly require new items for hygiene purposes.
When donating to your local charities, they have some great tips on what and how to donate so follow their links.
You have done well to get the most life out of your toys, but there are always items that have had their day. Check to see if there are any items you can recycle before you throw them out.
Stage 3 - Setup a Toy Rotation
Okay you have done the sorting, time for a coffee ... no wait, keep going! Now what to do with the toys you plan to keep. You can always pack them away as you have done in the past but Hayley O'Brien (one of our customers, professional photographer and Mum of two boys 3 & 2 Yrs) does a regular toy rotation which works very well for her family.
"It all started off when our youngest boy Harry turned one, and suddenly we had a mass of toys on our hands and not enough room to keep them all. Generally, I bring out a new box with a mix of about 20 toys at any one time. Within the boxes I always ensure I have covered multiple learning areas, for example: ceative building (with either Duplo or Megabloks), musical items, art & craft (playdoh or paint) and because Dad is an engineer, we always have a construction zone.
We have 5 different 50L boxes from Bunnings with airtight lids (to prevent air and insects getting in) and I rotate them once a month. Each time we rotate the toys, the boys get really excited and it's like Christmas again! It keeps them interested in toys that we have had for several years and reduces the need to keep buying new toys. I have to say it has been particularly good during this time when we have spent so much time at home.
When it is time to buy birthday presents or more age appropriate items, I always make sure we buy good quality products to ensure they will last and stand up to my boys extreme level of excitement at play time (read: rough play). I am always at Casey's Toys - the staff always know what we need and what the boys will love!"
Hayley also points out that prior to packing the toys into the bins, she will leave them in the sun for a while and then gives them a spray with Glen 20 before packing them up and sealing the lid. The box then goes to the bottom of the pile.
Note: If your children have been ill, it would be a good idea to do a more comprehensive clean before packing them away.
Another fantastic reason to take hold of your toy room and clean it up, is that once you are done you can see clearly what you have and what you don't. It will be obvious if you have too many colouring in pencils/textas (my house!) and not enough puzzles. This is helpful on multiple fronts as you will now know what to look for (and what not to look for!) the next time you visit us! It is also very handy when people ask "What do I get them for their birthday?"
Best of luck in your tidying adventure!