Before I was a parent I would drive past garage sales and wonder how they could have accumulated SO many toys/clothes/accessories related to their kids. Granted, at the time I had way too much stuff too but I couldn’t imagine myself allowing piles of kid stuff to fill up in my house.
Then I had a kid.
At first, it was subtle. A gift here, a box of hand me downs there. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE when people give gifts, and hand me downs are a life-saver but there are inevitably clothes that don’t fit or work, and gifts that he never played with or are unbearably loud and obnoxious to me. It’s very tempting to save everything ‘just in case’ but that is when you begin to run out of storage space!
So, how can you keep this inevitable clutter from happening? Here are my methods.
- When I first started receiving things I kept every bit of it without thinking. After a couple months I realized I wasn’t using about 3/4 of it. The 1/4 was invaluable of course but after that I began going through everything I received and keeping what we needed/wanted and taking the rest immediately to Goodwill or passing it on to someone I thought could use it.
Watch Your Child
- This was the most revealing one to me. See what toys your child gravitates too and which toys never get played with. Take the ones they never play with out of their play area. This also shows both development and interests. Obviously they grow out of toys and lose interest in much loved toys but there are also ones they never played with and probably won’t ever. Avery has two categories……stuffed animals and trucks. They are his beloved.
- If your child is really into toys and has more than can fit in an box or where they ‘go’ then you can do a rotation where you put a box in your garage or attic with half of their toys.
- Every three months or so (needs to be a short rotations since kids seem to grow out of toys pretty fast) switch out their collection. I have a very small rotation since Avery has favorite toys that I could never successfully take from him and store away.
- If you receive toys above the age range of your child they can be put in the rotation box to see if your child will enjoy them in the future.
- If you are going to have more children you can store your current child’s past toys in the rotation box as well.
- Any toy/clothes/furniture/etc that get broken or worn beyond repair, THROW AWAY. Don’t let useless things hang around.
- Remember, kids don’t NEED toys to have fun. Avery is far more interested in the tool drawer, pots/pans/colanders/etc, boxes or old electronics than most all of his toys…..except for the trucks of course.
- Encourage your child to be outside and play with sticks or the hose, and when indoors try to do activities like drawing, or engage them in active games like ‘chase’ or wrestling or tickling.
- Find a container of some kind that can hold all the toys, or ones that can be contained and don’t let the toys exceed it.
- Shane’s mom built a wooden toy box for Avery and it is the PERFECT size to keep the majority of his toys contained. Of course he has a couple, like the riding car, that wouldn’t fit into a toy box but most things will.
Put Up Daily
- Putting your child’s toys away, or having your child put the toys away each day before bed helps you remain familiar with the amount of toys they have, the toys they play with most and the condition the toys are in.
- This also makes you feel good about the lack of clutter laying around the house for your evening.
I didn’t used to be clutter free but I can’t tell you how my life has improved. If your only incentive is that cleaning up the house takes only a few minutes, let that motivate you. It’s easy to fall into things, buy things or ‘need’ things but changing your mindset about stuff can change your whole life.
Being minimalistic with your child is as important for them as it is for you. Let them read books, play outside or with friends/siblings.
Make sure toys stay delightful for them. My son LOVES his toys and he actually plays with every single one of them. I like to keep it that way.
Question: Do you keep things around or are you trying to become more minimalist? What tips do you have for keeping your possessions in check?