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Tricia from Clean House With Kids explains why she decided it was time to toss out the kids toys. No joking!

Now, we never had a LOT of toys, but we had enough so that messes were made easily, and I needed multiple storage containers to organize what the kids had, Tricia writes.

When we last moved, we downsized how many toys our kids owned, and I even packed half the toys away in a storage closet to help with the scattered-messes-everywhere situation.

And yet still… This is what we were dealing with on a daily basis:

1. The kids would pull out the toy containers and dump them.

2. The toys would get kicked all over the room.

3. The kids wouldn’t spend much time actually PLAYING with the TOYS.

4. If one child was playing with a toy, instead of the other children playing with ALL the OTHER toys on the floor, they would end up only fighting (and wanting to play with) that one toy (whichever one it was).

5. It would be time to clean UP the toys, and it would take a very, very long time. Every time.

It was a constant struggle to keep the toys cleaned up. What made it worse is that the kids hadn’t especially enjoyed playing with them to begin with! And the fighting. Ohhh, there was a lot of fighting.

Neither Matt nor I was happy about the situation at all. Matt kept suggesting that we get rid of all the toys–or that each child could only have one. I hesitated, thinking, What would our kids play with then?

Then it happened

And then one morning, it happened. We’d asked the kids (like we did all the time, multiple times every day) to clean up their toys, and they hadn’t, and the toys were just sitting there, un-played with, but very messy and scattered and frustrating.

I got a trash bag, and we just started filling it. All the toys that were worth selling, we set aside to sell.

You know what was the most shocking part of that moment? How happy the kids were with getting rid of their stuff. Instead of being upset, they were like, “Okay! This is cool! I’ll help throw away my toys!!”

We chose to keep two sets of toys–one set of plastic blocks, and my son kept his wooden toolbox (with a few tools inside).

The next few weeks, we could not believe the change in our childrens’ behaviour.

The result

There was less fighting, because there was less to fight over. There was WAY more drawing, which had hardly ever happened before. I suddenly found the kids sitting at the table with crayons and coloured pencils and paper and happily drawing–for very long periods of time!

Which brings me to… they were more content to sit and play the same thing, over and over, than they’d ever been, surrounded by countless plastic and stuffed toys. Their attention spans were longer!

And lastly, they actually became very creative. That set of plastic blocks (which cost me all of $3) has turned into a castle, weaponry, phones, bridges, writing utensils, cups, roads, even a pinata.

As I’m sure you’re wondering how long it takes them to clean up all their “toys” now, it’s something like 2 minutes and 50 seconds, even if they’re not hurrying. Except for the wooden toolbox, which is a little bigger, all their toys can fit in ONE square basket from Target.

If they want to play in their room, they take their basket to their room. It’s also been seen in the living room and downstairs. But whenever they’re done playing, everything goes back in the basket. And… done.

It’s such a relief–all of it–that I can’t ever imagine going back. But I know that as our kids grow older, they’ll enjoy more games, or puzzles, and I’m sure we’ll accumulate a bit more, but for now, this is perfect for us.

Tricia adds, getting rid of toys (no matter how many issues they may cause) does NOT eliminate bad behaviour. Believe me, the bad behaviour is still there as long as there are people present! While the fights definitely lessened between the children, they still fight over other things. It’s honestly kind of amazing how one child holding something can increase its desirability by an exponential amount!

Secondly, I’m not recommending this sort of action for everyone. As I mentioned at the beginning, I hear mums all the time lamenting their messy family rooms, and asking for help. This is what we did, and I’m so very glad we did, but I’m sure there are other good ways to solve the problems these moms are facing.

Six months on…

Tricia told Mouths of Mums that six months later they have not introduced any new toys besides the fact that each daughter now owns a doll. “We are still loving our minimal-toy household, and the changes we’ve seen in the kids!”

I seriously need to follow Tricia’s lead! Could you do this?

Share your comments below.

If any readers are interested in hearing more, check out the e-book!

Image via Shutterstock
Published with full permission from Tricia of Clean House With kids.

  • A very brave mum & it worked out well.

    Reply

  • Our younger children are lucky as they have a play room, so all toys are contained in one room. We also one favorite toy each plus other toys are swapped out monthly.

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  • I sure think a good clean out every now and then is healthy ! Luckily my kids are good in tidying and we tidy up before dinner. No dinner when it’s not tidy, lol !

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  • I love this! We had a small box of toys as kids and that was it. Most of our play was outside. I am already planning on downsizing the toys in our house and this is a great reminder as to why!

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  • When I first saw this article, I thought how extreme. But as I read it, it makes sense.
    I won’t be throwing all the toys out. But I will be decluttering. Thank you

    Reply

  • I don’t think I could ever do this. And I don’t think all kids would be thrilled to have their toys thrown away. I know mine wouldn’t appreciate it

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  • Kids these days have far too many toys. They over stimulate them fue to too much choice. I love decluttering and donating toys that don’t get played with as often as hoped. Makes way for new things. Educational toys are the best toys to have :-)

    Reply

  • This is awesome. Keep it minimalistic. I will have to keep this in mind for when our daughter gets older.

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  • I usually clear them out and get rid of the ones the kids have outgrown or don’t play with just before Their birthdays and at Christmas time as they get more given to them and there is just not enough space for them all lol

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  • Yep….. it just gets to that point when you can’t take it any longer. The kids really didn’t miss them at all & were happy with the amount that we kept

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  • I did this when my now adult children were younger
    i got sick of picking toys up all the time
    we only kept puzzles, books, board games and playstation/xbox

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  • A great idea. We are in a similar situation.

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  • this is so good. such a great idea

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  • I seriously need to do this. My house is a bomb site!

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  • Some young children like to take a cuddly toy to bed with them. They can be a great comfort if a child is sick or injured in any way. Childrens’ Hospitals and Ambulances use soft toys. I comforts them and also give them something to hold and keep little hands busy while treatment is happening. We stick to mainly educational toys – play and learn at the same time.

    Reply

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