For several days now, we’ve had a problem. With our toy box. Specifically the lid and how it won’t shut because toys are starting to mound up.
How does this happen?
HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Regardless… we deemed it a Clear Out Day, and we ended up with a tote full of “givers” and a few broken things that needed to go. I want to share our methods of tempering the chaos that naturally ensues when small children are about and how we successfully destash TOYS without everyone losing their ever lovin’ minds.
Prevention is Key
Keep “sets” together at all costs. Legos, wooden blocks, kitchen toys. Each set has its own bag and each bag is kept on the top shelf in a closet. For added sanity, I keep child locks on all of our closets. (highly suggest-best mom move ever!) This means that for a set to come out, there must be a clean floor to play on, a promise not to lose the overwhelming majority of the pieces, and the pieces must go back to their home each time.
Have the remainder of the toys located in the family area in a single toy box. There are so many pros to this! It encourages social play with the family as a whole, prevents “That’s my toy!” drama, and makes clean up easy. Play is allowed in the bedrooms, of course, but the toys’ home is in an easily accessible, communal area.
Keep their rooms simple. We’re selective about clothes we keep and they’re all on hangers. (undergarments go into small baskets inside the closets) This means there are no dressers! Each kid has a child sized chair, and they share a kid sized table and a stand up kitchen. They each have a bed; the older child having a loft bed with a slide, that doubles as entertainment while preserving floor space for important things like Tonka derbies.
The best part of these three rules is that there are no toys in the kids’ bedrooms at bed time.
I’ve found that we have a more productive destash when I give my kids a heads up well in advance. For example, I told them first thing in the morning that we would be going through ALL of the toys later to look for things that were broken or things we were done playing with. A couple reminders throughout the day lessens the trauma. We actually started at about 4pm and had it done in less than an hour.
We pull every single toy out of the toy box and spread them around the room. This is the point where Kenny Loggin’s voice will pop into your head singing Danga’ Zooooone. I give them a tote or dedicate a sofa for the stuff that will go, and we go through every. single. item. Every dinosaur, every My Little Pony. “Would you like to keep this or would you like to give it to someone else/take it to church/donate it?”
I personally think using a phrase like “Can we get rid of this?” is less ideal. For kids, that translates to, “We’re hurling your toys into an unknown abyss for all eternity.” Give them a realistic and relatable outlook.
After one or two destashing experiences, my oldest child has become an absolute PRO. She chooses to let go of things that I never would have guessed and works through the whole process fairly quickly. Once they live through it and realize their world isn’t being ripped from them, they start to understand that it’s actually a good process.
One very important thing I want to add… Listen to their opinions. You might see an old, ragged baby doll that looks like it’s ready for retirement. You might reflexively save that teddy bear grandma sent for the first Christmas. But you could be making decisions that are completely counter to the preferences of the kid. You know…The one that actually plays with the stuff.
No kid wants to participate in a destash if it’s just an hour of being told they “don’t really know what they like to play with.”
Lastly, remember to think on a grand-minimal scale. All those things you’re destashing are leaving your home, but they’re still going to exist out in the world. Make wise choices in your initial acquisitions as well as thoughtful placement of things you’re letting go of. The kid table and chairs, the loft bed, the kitchen set, and the toy box we use are all items that were passed on to us by friends or family. We’re hopeful that we will be able to pass them on even further. Quality items (like the 30 year old hand crafted toy box!) and a little care/maintenance allow us to bless others down the road and quell the raging madness of consumerism.