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It’s more than five years since I’m a minimalist. Today I have no problem parting with things. Most categories of items at my home are well decluttered, organized, put on their places and revised from time to time. And yes, I’ve written most categories. Because there are some that still aren’t solved how I would like them to be. One of these harder categories is my Boys’ toys. So now, using my three-year experience as a minimalist mother, I’ll list my rules for decluttering toys. Hopefully, while teaching you, and at the same time, I’ll learn to manage toys even better.
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Rules for decluttering toys from a minimalist mom
By decluttering toys, I mean going through all toys that kids possess and deciding which of them will stay in their room. Yes, we’re choosing what to keep, not focusing on what we get rid off. A bit like in Marie Kondo’s method.
Why? Because we, parents, want to focus on what our children will spend their time with. We’ll deal with the rest later. Now we’re on the stage of choosing treasures for our young loved ones.
So when you’ll be ready for the decluttering toys challenge, find a time when kids are not there and all their toys in one place. This method is much easier than going through a few toys day after day. And check if applying my rules for decluttering toys will work for your family.
Steps are put in order. Firstly you look at the most important person on this subject: your kid. By this step, you’ll declutter the biggest amount of toys. Then you consider your needs, what adds more items to the pile to sell, give, throw out. (Yes, rules for decluttering toys are created looking at the whole family: kids and parents!) Later you do a safety check, maybe getting rid of a few items because I suppose you’re not a dangerous things collector! The last step is additional, for people who care about environmental issues or for those who at this point have still many toys and need another rule to limit their number.
1 | think about kid’s interests
Do you remember what your kids play with most often? If not, remind yourself which toys you see every day out of its place, out of kids room. Remind which toys you put back in their place every evening. These are most used toys. Which means the best toys.
Let them stay. It’ll show your respect for child’s choices and at the same time, it’ll help you as a parent by… engaging the kid.
You can check my lists of what kids aged 0-4 love to play with:
2 | think about your plans for your kid
Kid’s interests are one thing. Another thing can be your plans for the kid. If a boy is playing only with cars at current period, but you want him to train his manual skills and imagination for many years by playing with blocks, leave the cars and the blocks in his room.
By setting this rule I don’t mean pulling him away from his interests nor forcing to play with what you want him to play. This means giving the opportunity to play with what you think would benefit your child. This means encouraging him to notice the toy you’ve chosen for him.
You can initiate plays with items of your choice, also playing with your kid’s current favorite toys.
It’s also the time to decide about toys which you don’t want at your home or in your kid’s hands. Most of them are gifts or other toys that came into your home without your control. Too noisy, too automatic, ugly, improper for child’s age or not aligning with your family values? It’s time to get rid of it without feeling guilty.
3 | think about your comfort
Having set of blocks is developing and fun, even for the parent. But having too many blocks (I know, from the perspective of the builder, there is always not enough blocks) is… painful. You feel it on the bottom of your feet when it’s dark. And if you try to avoid the feet pain, you can get back pain after long minutes of picking up little elements.
Being a parent means having a child. Having a child means having additional items. Having a child means love, fun, time together, playtime and a bit of dedication. But it doesn’t mean that you have to change into toy-picker, toy manager, toy repairer and toy-slave. Spending too much time on tidying up your kids’ stuff is not what anybody was meant to be!
Without any shame, think about which toys you like and which you dislike. Think about how much care every item needs (repairs, washing, putting parts together, taking from behind furniture etc.).
4 | think about safety
This point seems obvious and not needing explanation. You don’t allow a three-year-old to play with matches, sharp knives, needles and cables and devices connected to electricity. I’m sure!
But wait. By thinking about safety I don’t only mean putting away such dangerous things.
I suggest you connect safety and the previous rule for decluttering toys: your comfort. Consider getting rid of all toys that require parent’s attention while the kid is using them. Example? Toys with small parts for a kid that could put them into the mouth and swallow. Light and unstable big toys or furniture (for example kids’ cooking set, baby rocking chair) for toddlers who learn to walk by leaning on furniture.
Try to put away every item that caused kid’s pain, even if it was just something like hurting their finger by a clothespin. Put them away for a period until the kid will be able to understand how the thing works and how to avoid hurting themselves.
Rules for decluttering toys take safety into account, making it easier for you to say goodbye to some more items.
5 | think about the environment
It’s an additional part of my rules for decluttering toys. It can seem not so necessary for you and the kid (although it affects your health). But if you live in a part of world that is economically good, if you have even just a few friends or family members who visit you from time to time, and if your significant other isn’t into minimalism (or maybe even speaks the love language of gifts), you probably could sink in the amount of toys that your child has.
Get to know the basics of environmental consciousness and make little steps, little decisions. If you have a choice between getting rid of a plastic car or the wooden car, let your kid play with the wooden one.
Wait! Where are the numbers?
Minimalist games like 100 things are fun, but I won’t tell you the proper number of toys a child should own. Keep extreme experiments for yourself.
Don’t scare kids with sudden, big changes. Be gentle. Firstly, get rid of unused, problematic and dangerous toys. If you haven’t done decluttering toys before, even with this little steps you’ll see a change.
And then revise a number of toys with the same rules for decluttering toys from time to time.
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