How to declutter toys: A complete guide
Parenting & Family,  Simplify & Slow Down

Declutter These 10 Toys Now

10 Types of Toys You Can Get Rid Of Today

This time of year I’m really into cleaning out and simplifying. The school year is coming to an end, my kids all have birthdays in Spring/Summer in which they acquire new things (even though we always say no gifts!), the days are mostly spent outdoors, and it feels good to let go of things. 

I love decluttering and minimizing toys because it allows children more freedom to play. Without the clutter of unused toys, there are fewer distractions to take them from their deep play.  

It’s also easier to clean up!

I follow the advice of Dr. Kim John Payne from the book Simplicity Parenting. These are 10 types of toys he suggests clearing out.  

P.S. – Simplicity Parenting is one of my Top 5 Parenting Books. Click here for the others!

If you’re interested in more from Simplicity Parenting, check out their free simplicity starter kit here!

It also helps to ask yourself this question:

“Is this a toy my child can pour their imagination into or is it too fixed?”  

Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting

10 Toys to Declutter Today

Broken Toys

Toys lose their pieces and parts. They break. It’s the natural cycle of children’s play. This is the first category – and easiest – to dispose of. If a toy is broken and you plan on fixing it, ask yourself if it can get done this week. If you can’t fix it within a week, toss it. Otherwise, it will end up back in your child’s toy box. 

Developmentally Inappropriate Toys

Toys that have an expiration date or that your kids have aged out of can go. This is like keeping too small clothes in their drawers, they just take up space.

Conceptually Fixed Toys

These are mostly toys with characters from tv shows and movies. The toys create the same type of play or storyline time and again, without much imagination. 

Side note, we have plenty of toys from tv shows and movies and I do feel that my kids can explore and be imaginative with a lot of them. The ones that do not inspire play quickly get ignored for different toys. So this wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be!    

Toys that do too much and break too easily

These toys often need to be set up or put together. They most likely require batteries or some sort of specialized organization system. These toys will most likely cross over into other categories as well.  

High stimulation toys

Play time should be about imagination and creativity, not stimulation. Pass on flashing lights and loud sounds. 

Annoying or offensive toys

This may include high stimulation toys above, but may also be anything that you, the parent, deem annoying or offensive. A fart gun? Gone. The toy that plays the same song repeatedly? Pass.  

Educational promise toys

Toys can be inherently educational without the promise of formal education. They will learn many lessons and skills through play. Educational toys that promise to have your kids reading, coding, or doing math problems should not be included in their playtime.  

I do believe it’s good to have interactive educational time with your children, but during free-play is not one of those times.  

Pressure or fad toys

I’m sure we can all name a few of these from our childhood. Don’t be pressured into buying or keeping a toy just because it is in high demand. It will quickly be replaced by the next best thing. 

Toys that inspire corrosive play

We don’t want to reinforce negative agendas in our children’s toys. They absorb it easily.  

Kids will naturally turn play things into guns or swords – just watch any 6-year-old boy play. But they don’t need life-like weapons. 

Multiples

Do you have 3 soccer balls? Narrow it down to one. How many baby dolls does one little kid need? If you ask, all of them. This leads me to my last point. 

Decluttering Toys

The decluttering toy process can be very simple or much more involved. I’ll touch on some ways I’ve decluttered in the past with what has worked and what hasn’t. 

Involving your kids in decluttering

Should you declutter with your kids? Feelings are mixed with this. When it comes to my twins, I watch them play daily. I know which toys get used and which ones haven’t been touched in weeks. For them, I can declutter without involving them in the process. 

Kim John Payne, the author of Simplicity Parenting, also advises decluttering without kids’ involvement. They will probably slow you down, argue or negotiate, and want to keep a lot more than you do. 

With my son, I have a hard time decluttering without him and so my husband and I have included him the last few times we’ve cleaned out. He is older and does a lot of play in his room without us around. Therefore, I’m not sure exactly what he’s playing with the majority of the time. 

He is also very sensitive and very attached to everything. I mean everything. He keeps random slips of paper, broken toys, party favors from 3 years ago, you name it. And he can verbalize his attachment to everything. So we clean out together and go slow. 

The Simplification Process

There are 3 ways I have simplified or decluttered our toys: Overhaul, daily, and room-by-room. 

Overhaul

This is just how it sounds. The best way to go about doing the overhaul simplification is to gather all the toys in one area. I did this a few years ago in our living room after the kids went to bed one Saturday night. It was eye-opening. 

By gathering all the toys in one area, you can see exactly what you have. I will say, this was overwhelming. But it got the job done!  

Sort toys by type in piles: cars and trucks, balls, blocks, baby dolls, characters, dress-up, etc. This is a great way to easily spot multiples.  

Kim John Payne suggests minimizing your toys by half. And then in half again. This will leave you feeling much lighter and extremely accomplished.  

Along the way, make sure you are creating an easy system for getting the toys out of the house. You can have a box for donations, a bag for trash, and a tub for storage.  

Use the toys you have in storage like a toy library. If your child wants a toy in the storage box, they have to store a different toy away.  

Daily

This is the opposite of the overhaul and not at all overwhelming. This is more of a little-by-little simplification.  

Check for broken toys regularly while helping your child clean up. Notice which toys never get played with and remove them. Maybe once in a while, when you have an extra 10 minutes, go through a toy basket and try to declutter half of it.  

Slow and steady wins the race to simplify in this manner. Just remember to avoid incoming toys during this stretched-out process, or you’ll have to step up your game. 

Room-by-room

This is the type of simplification I do most regularly in my house.  

We have several play spaces for the kids:  

  • A dedicated playroom for the kids which houses a trampoline, climber, and other larger movement toys. 
  • A small area in our living room for shared open-ended toys like magnetic tiles, peg dolls, rainbow stackers, and balancing stones. We also store puzzles here.
  • And each child keeps some toys in their room including legos for both rooms, action figures and chess sets for my son, and dolls and dress-up for my daughters.  

On any given day, I take out all the toys from that area or room and go through the simplification process. This is enough of a project to take about an hour at a time. You can get much more done than the “daily” method, but it does not take over your day or evening like the “overhaul” method.  

Be a toy curator for your kids

A toy curator has a nice ring to it, right? That’s how I think of myself. I screen what toys come into our house vigilantly.  

When birthdays or holidays roll around and family asks what my kids are into, I send them links instead of just saying “They like cars”.  

I often specify “no gifts” on invitations but people for some reason feel bad about showing up empty-handed. Recently, I said, “No gifts, please! If you feel compelled to give, $5-$10 will go a long way towards his big gift!”  

This might be weird, but I’m confident in my decision and I would rather have 15 cards with $5 bills than 15 of the same set of toy cars, action figures, unicorn dolls, or princess tiaras.  

Declutter these 10 toys

Toy simplification

After you’ve read the 10 toys to declutter today, learned about the simplification process, and taken on the role of toy curator for your children, are you ready to get started!?!?  

Drop before and after photos in the comments or let me know your favorite tip! I’d love to hear it and so will everyone else. The more I talk with other parents, the more I realize how intimidating toy decluttering can be. We’re all in this together!

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More Simplification Posts here: 

How to Slow Down with a 5-Finger Affirmation Practice

How to Simplify in 10 Minutes or Less 

How to Simplify Kids’ Wardrobes with 5 Questions

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