I thought the last spring cleaning task, my clothes closet, was difficult. I had no idea what I was up against when I decided my next assignment was going to be to spring clean the kids’ toys. I was so overwhelmed at one point, I almost seriously considered getting rid of all of their toys. Crazy? Maybe. But our toy situation was crazy.
Here’s what pushes me over the edge. When I hear the words, “I’m bored.” or “There’s nothing to doooooooo!” while toys sit on the shelves and bins, unused. It’s downright maddening.
The thing is, it’s not like we are out buying our kids toys all the time. Not at all. In fact, we hardly ever just buy them a toy unless there is an occasion like a birthday or Christmas. If Meghan wants something new when it’s not a gift-giving occasion, she saves her money and buys it herself. Luke doesn’t ask for new toys much, except for 89 cent Hot Wheels that I do occasionally (okay…maybe a lot) let him get when he’s out running errands with me.
Toys just accumulate. Birthday parties, Christmas, grandparents who love to spoil them–all the occasions add up to mountains of toys that become too many. When there are too many toys to choose from, kids end up overwhelmed and don’t know what to choose. Toys get buried in the pile and forgotten about. Here’s some before pictures that give you an idea of how cluttered and overtaking the toy situation was at our house. I got to the point last week where I was ready to get rid of not quite all the toys, but maybe most of the toys. They weren’t getting played with anyway, I figured I might as well get them out of the house. In the end, I was a softie. As I pulled out all the toys, getting ready to sort them into piles for donation, I was met with tears.
“Nooooo! You can’t give that away! I love that!”
Really? Then why haven’t you played with it in 18 months?
Something did happen, however, as I was pulling out all of the toys. Suddenly, the toys that were buried under each other were seen with new eyes.
“Oh! Remember this?!” and off he’d run, playing with a toy that’d been forgotten about for months.
Why did I ever get out of the habit of rotating toys? I did it all the time when Meghan was a toddler. Of course, back then all of the toys that needed to be rotated fit in one smallish bin. Another child and a few years later has added up to toy chaos.
I decided instead of getting rid of all the toys, or even most of the toys, I’d go back to rotating toys. With less toys on the shelves to choose from, the kids will be better able to see and enjoy what they have, I reasoned.
I purchased three new, large bins with idea that I’d rotate the toys with the seasons. I wrote the dates in my calendar so I’d remember to do it. And then became the massive task of sorting the toys.
Yes, lots of toys did go into the donation/sell pile. I wasn’t that soft. Some things just had to go. The rest was sorted and placed in the bins to be stored until the next season comes and the toys can reemerge with the new life they deserve to have. We don’t need 16 puzzles out at one time. Four at a time is perfectly fine and surely they’ll get taken apart and put together much more now.
Here are some pictures from this crazy process.A few select toys do get played with enough to merit staying out all the time, such as Meghan’s Magna-Tiles (Best. Toy. Ever.) and Luke’s beloved cars. A day doesn’t go by without Luke playing with almost all his cars and while Meghan doesn’t have as much time to play with toys, the first thing she usually reaches for are the Magna-Tiles. Some of the bigger toys in the basement, like Luke’s train table and the play kitchen, will also stay out all year. I’m sure I’ll decide as I go on what else can stay out season to season.
At first I was only planning on spring cleaning the kids’ toys, but as I went on I realized the books needed just as much attention. Books accumulate, too, and the same thing was happening with the books. Great books were getting lost in the shuffle and forgotten about. So I used the same process and added books to the bins to go on rotation as well. For the record, I had been rotating seasonal books, but that is all and it wasn’t enough. My kids are already excited about the books they are finding that they didn’t even realize we had. (As a former elementary school teacher, I have a ton of kids’ books.)
In addition to the purging and new toy and book rotation system I put into place, there was some actual cleaning I did as well. All the toys were taken off of the shelf or out of their storage bin and the shelves and bins were cleaned/wiped. I moved storage bins/shelves and cleaned behind them, something I was mortified to realize I hadn’t done in much too long. I didn’t do much cleaning of the actual toys, besides some light dusting, although I probably should have given them a deeper cleaning. A girl only has so much energy, though, right?
I am so happy to have less toys out. I can’t wait to see what an impact this has on the kids’ play time. Here are some after shots to give you an idea of how things are looking now. The playroom is much less cluttered–the shelves actually look kind of bare! But it’s a good thing. Really, it is. I know I need a better toy storage idea than to just line the wall with toys in the basement, but other than that I’m happy with have so many less toys around at one time. I don’t think these pictures do justice to the dramatic change. I will definitely keep you updated on how the toy and book rotation goes. Once again, finishing this project has been such a great feeling. I am so glad I have you all to keep me accountable and continue with this Spring Cleaning Challenge. How is your spring cleaning going? Have you done the kids’ toys yet?! I’d love to hear how it went for you.
If you’ve missed the previous weeks’ Spring Cleaning Challenges, you can find them here: