I Always Said I Wouldn’t Be That Mom…

You know, that mom who lets their kids have a million toys and vowed to never let toys overtake their house because the clutter would drive her insane, and she truly believed in the whole less is more thing when it comes to kids and toys.

Toy Clutter

Well, apparently I am that mom. I really don’t know how it happens. Now granted, a lot of these toys are old and from when she was like 1 year old. I guess it’s my fault that I don’t go through them often enough and purge. It’s hard getting rid of toys for me. But knowing that they will bless someone else is how I’m able to do it. Needless to say, that black bag you see in the picture is when the toy ninja paid us a visit and went to town. ;)

The chick fil a toys and books, random other small unnecessary toys that I’m not even sure where they come from just seem to accumulate. Seriously, how?? And why do the kids just out of the blue want to play with every toy that you planned on giving to the ninja that day? They must have some freakishly weird intuition like it will be their final moment with Plex or Cabbage Patch or something.

How do you keep the toys at bay?



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  1. I would store the “collections” in Rubbermaid bins and put some of them in storage. If the kids said they were bored I would load up the “unwanted” toys in another Rubbermaid bin (to be put in storage) and bring out a different one – it would be like Christmas again for them. For toy storage in rooms we have an awesome storage ottoman in the family room, for the living room we found baskets that fit under the coffee table perfectly and we put closet organizers in every closet. The goal is to teach each child to put there stuff away when done. Easier said then done especially when they get older and love playing with Legos (storage bins from Ikea and repurposed train table) and LaLaLoopsies (the minis that are small but have to be spread around the whole room to play with). Life is a work in progress!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Every year before Christmas, we talk to our daughter about how some kids are less fortunate and don’t have as many toys as she does, and how she will be getting new things for Christmas. We go through her toys together (since she was maybe 3 or 4 anyway. before then, I’d honestly just send her to gran’s house and clean out) and pick things to take to a goodwill or someone less fortunate than us. I think it’s a good lesson for her as well as helps keep the toys cleaned out. Our biggest problem (she is 7) is with journals and papers and “notes” that seem to be everywhere. And, of course, she can’t part with ANY of them!

    • I am dealing with my own paper clutter – pages with one line of inspiration written on it, or a jotted family tree reference, birthday cards, magazine articles I might need one day… I am getting rid of it by scanning (or photographing) them and then I can toss without worrying. Maybe this would work for your daughter. Photograph the papers, put them in a digital folder she can access if she needs to. Maybe create a pretty folder for her room for her to store the ones she can’t part with in each day/week, then have her go through it later and pick the ones that MUST be photographed. (and maybe a scrapbook for keeping the exceptional paper copy occasionally ) I’ve emptied 3 file cabinets so far…

  3. I’m sure someone is going to hose me for saying this but I have 4 kids so the toys would literally suffocate us if I let them. Happy Meal toys pretty much go in the garbage or a donation bag as soon as the meal is over. That’s about how long the kids are interested in it. If they like it and continue to play with it after that point (Darn you McDonald’s and your Despicable Me 2 Mini Minions!) then they can keep them. Only once or twice have I thrown something away in the 12+ years I’ve been a parent that a child came back later and wanted it. We’re moving into the new playroom now so toys are in garbage bags but when they were still in bedrooms, all of the toys were highly organized by type (Legos, Matchbox cars) or by movie/TV show (Star Wars, Toy Story) which made it so easy to purge broken toys. They’d already have a bin of toys out so when we’d clean up later I’d just chunk the broken ones. It also made it easy to purge what was no longer interesting since I knew what bins weren’t ever being pulled out. I’ve only hidden my toy purging when my kids are small, but from about age 7 on I’ve encouraged the kids to help with purging, bagging, and donating the gently used toys they don’t play with by explaining that there are children with nothing and part of service to others is giving what we have to those who have not. It’s kind of a sketchy concept to get at first but my 12 year old is a pro now. I do that two or three times a year.
    All of that and I still have a playroom full of toys. Go figure. ;-)

  4. Ha! Couldn’t be more true! Where DO all those random toys come from? And WHY do they need to be played with precisely when you’re trying to get rid of them? :)

  5. I never purge the toys in the presence of the kids! Most of the time they don’t even know it’s missing. And if they do ask, I can honestly say “I have NO IDEA where that went.” Because after it left my house, I usually don’t!

    • Lol…hilarious!!!!!
      The problem in my case is that my child is only 2 now and she already has a room full of toys! Who’s fault?!?!? All mine!!!!! I love collecting dolls and toys that are similar to the ones I used to play with when little. So, I’ve made sure I’ve bought every single one of them for my daughter! Now let me tell you that she does actually play with her toys! She makes me sit on a chair and brings me all sorts of play food, milk, and tea with ketchup for me to eat! :)

  6. Oh I remember those days. I learned to purge while the kiddos were at school…so much easier!

  7. We purge at Birthdays and Christmas. When they were little I did it and they never seemed to miss things. Now that they are older we do it together. They now understand that some kids don’t have toys like they do and they love to pass on stuff.

  8. As much as it would be nice for my kids to only have one toy box they have at least rthree each. I involve the kids when I purge. I tell them that for everyone they keep they have to give two away. They play with all of their toys so this allows them to pick out their favorites and makes sure that I they don’t freak out because a toy that they couldn’t live without was suddenly gone. This has worked for t a couple years now. We are currently doing it at least once a year.

  9. About six months or so before Christmas, I have my boys go through their toys and put them in a box to donate. The stuff we want to keep for my youngest gets picked up by Santa. He makes it look like new and brings it back for Christmas. I know I won’t be able to regift forever, but my boys are young enough that they love this and don’t even remember once Christmas rolls around.

  10. I have boys so our toy clutter is limited to hot wheels, legos, and dinos……..but those pesky happy meal toys just seem to pop up all over my house!! UGH! I’ve always kept a tight handle on the kids toys and request outdoor toys or books for gifts. The other toys mentioned are all stored in plastic boxes with lids and stacked on a bookcase and I make sure they put them away every night.

  11. We ALL are “that” mom from time to time haha!! I always clean out the toys when my kids are gone, too! It makes it so much easier to throw away the happy meal toys and weird little things that accumulate. I make sure to reorganize and move things around so that it seems new and fresh when my son comes home. Then it seems exciting and clean and they forget about what might be missing ;) xoxox Holly

  12. My twin girls are 12 & for years we would start thinning out the toys a few months before Christmas. As soon as they were old enough to understand the whole concept about giving to others less fortunate I made them a part of the process. They actually liked the thought of someone else being excited about a toy they no longer played with. We usually donate to our local food co-op that also has a thrift store. They use the funds from the thrift store to help buy food & pay utility bills for those in need in our community. In the meantime we have always tried to organize the toys in bends or on shelves by category. I began teaching my girls when they were young to cleanup after they were done playing. Sometimes they would follow through on their own & sometimes I would have to remind them. However, after years of this, now when they have friends over they insist that their friends help them clean once they are done. When their friends don’t help, the girls will complain to me later & I can’t help but laugh.

  13. my daughter seemed to have a lot of toys around the age of three. I think that might have been from taking her yardsaleing and inexpensive or free toys that were still in excellent condition were hard to pass up. that ‘fad’ didn’t last long in our home because I like my kid’s toys to be super organized and in categories (their dad built them each a shelf with 21 bins) and too many toys was hard for my daughter who doesn’t enjoy the art of toy organization like my son (who, with his momma’s help, mastered that art at age 2 lol). My kids are 7 and 11 and for the last few years whenever a gift giving occasion arises we talk with the kids about what they might want and tell family what we’ve been thinking about and they haven’t got toys in a really long toys. The last few gifts they got over the years were life jackets, snow shoes, a camping tent, bikes, archery bow, clothes and books. We are not a busy family but with school, a few activities and lots of time playing outside we just don’t have time for toys and they have slowly left our home. I think it gets better when they are older.

  14. When it gets so out of control I tell the boys to collect all the “stuff” they don’t play with anymore and we have a garage sale. I let them keep the money and buy more crap :) ha ha

  15. The small stuff, I have a bag for them for when I have a pinata. The new stuff, I wait and bring out a couple at time from b day or Christmas. My daughters b day is in Jan so there is no space between, really. The old stuff I circulate them. If she has no interest for specific toys after 2 weeks I put them away. The stuff animals I have a open crate for them. For her books, we do not have a shelf for them right now but they have a basket of their own. I have apart of picking up and know where everything goes and then again she has been doing this since she could walk. I throw away the ones with no meaning and not useful for donation or selling. Hope this helps!

  16. HA! I was that mom too! I have 3 boys, so, between birthday Legos, Happy Meal toys, blocks of “special” wood from pre-school and karate…it’s all taken over the house more times than I care to remember!

    We try to clean out twice a year. I’ve gone so far as to subtley suggest that people buy Lego STORAGE for a certain middle child, rather than actual Legos, for a couple of birthdays now. Though they still manage to spread all eleventy-billion teensy weensy Lego bits all over their bedroom floor, the upstairs hall, under the sheets on my bed, AND all over the living room & foyer EVERY. DANG. DAY. We’ve tried toyboxes, fabric bins on shelves, cool buckets and such on the wall. NOTHING ON GODs GREEN EARTH has ever inspired these children to put their dang hoard away without bribes, threats, tears and whining.

    That said, I think August would be a great month to clean out again! Start fresh before school starts, and before we have another birthday influx in September.

  17. I have a hard and fast rules when it comes to toy control and it has worked for the past twelve years. About a week or so before Christmas and birthday (this works because his birthday is in August, so twice a year) I purge his toys into two categories, keep and donate. If it is a donate toy I bag it, put it in my car and take it away within 24 hours. If it is a special toy that I want to keep for him I store it my annual system I started when he was born. I buy one of those large, nice rubber maid contains, write the year on the outside with a big black marker then store it in his closet. As I weed things out that I want to keep, toys, art work, books etc., it goes in the container – done. Just be sure it is stored somewhere they can’t get into but easy access for you. Also, for some children it might be best to do this when they aren’t around otherwise you can’t get rid of anything.

  18. When our son was smaller, we would throw the happy meal toys away as soon as he sat them down and left them. He never asked what happened to them. Thank goodness for short attention spans. As for the other toys, we purged regularly and took them to a thrift store near our neighborhood. Now that he is a teenager, we seem to accumulate different things. Axe personal care products – for one thing. It takes him forever to get ready and his bathroom smells stronger than a Kirkland’s store but it is better than the alternative.

    • I love this. When my son was a teenager (now an adult) always had more hair products and personal care products than I did. With the exception of make up, of course.

  19. I keep a limited amount of toys in my daughter’s room and out for daycare kids, and the rest are in storage downstairs, categorized and labeled in bins. Annually I have a garage sale, and I go through all the toys, get rid of things that don’t get played with or don’t have a partner (that random McD’s toy that they don’t play with because the other kid(s) can’t have one, too). I often go through things without my daughter, and sometimes we have to have “a talk” before the sale, but she at 6 she is starting to see the value in selling things we don’t use or giving them to someone else. In fact, she’s given away two Barbies in the past couple weeks!

  20. I feel your pain! My boys cling to every little useless toy, too. We have that same red piano. It’s a keeper, though. ;-)

  21. I learned through my own experiences {never letting go of things myself} that I have to teach my boys how to purge their stuff on their own and not just go through and throw stuff out for them. It is really a life skill that I did not learn until later in life, and I had an awful lot of stuff in my life. I work hard to teach them not to hold on to things that they don’t love, or need. My twins share a bedroom, so there isn’t a lot of room for toys in there, and I don’t allow them to stay out or be stored in the main living area of the house {another small room}. But we have a loft area/ homework/ toy room that I store stuff that takes up a lot of room in like video games, books, board games, Rock Band accessories, overflow stuffed animals, etc. Anything that doesn’t fit in an Expedit from Ikea doesn’t get to stay in their room… there simply isn’t enough room with two boys sharing a 10×10 bedroom… You will be teaching her a valuable like skill if you teach her to go through her own things, and not keep emotional attachments with too many things in life. Attachment to just a few, and then give the rest away. It’s hard at first because every kid will want to keep everything they own :-)… but eventually they will see how they can make room for new things if they get rid of old things… Haha, they will learn that very quickly :-)

  22. cheap toys go straight in the garbage (after they’ve put them down and forgotten them). discourage toy gifts at birthdays and christmas. they still get more than they need, but it helps a lot.

  23. We have a playroom for all the toys. Books, games with small pieces, and puzzles go in the bookshelf in the bedroom my twin boys share. If they bring stuff to any other areas, they must take it with them when they leave the area. Oh…they must keep the playroom in good condition…I am the judge of that!

    We have an IKEA system of stacked bins and tops of the system, itself. We have a couple of tall, round, soft, laundry bins where stuffed animals and soft toys are kept. The only thing they do not always have to put away is the train tracks when they have it built and connected.

    Does it always work? Mostly! I have to get on to them sometimes. Toys that are left out of the playroom, sometimes, disappear for a while!

    • P.S.

      Toys for donating are taken away when the boys are at school. Though, they have chosen a few to donate here and there!

  24. What about the total novel idea of….wait for it….buying fewer toys. I know, it’s shocking.

  25. We don’t have a lot of toys, I usually do a purge every six months and like another mentioned never in front of the kids. Once I purged the stuffed animals and took her with me when I donated them to Goodwill and she freaked when she saw them. Learned my lesson :)