Minimialist Toy Storage
Earlier this year I found myself overwhelmed by our girls. They just wouldn't play on their own. They wouldn't leave my side, not to go to the bathroom, not to get them a snack, not to make dinner, nothing. At first I thought that I wasn't giving them enough undivided attention. But giving them even more attention almost made it worse, I couldn't do anything without children crying for me to hold them.
My husband would come home every night to an overwhelmed wife who was trying to make dinner, with two crying children clinging to her side. Usually one was sitting on the counter and then other in my arms. This made the everyday task simply impossible and frankly just not worth it. My mood would gradually get worse while the house got messier.
After much trial and error I realized I needed to do something about the girls toys.
Fast forward to today. Our girls have very little toys (compared to other children their age in North America) and all of these toys can be easily accessed by both children (5 &2). The toys are also organized in a way with makes playing and cleaning super easy.
Oh and guess what?!? I can actually make dinner, prep lunch AND .. wait who am I kidding no mom gets piece and quiet when they go to the bathroom, do they?!? (Let me know if you figure that one out)
It took me some time but I finally realized that our girls were so overwhelmed by their toys that they didn't actually play with them, and that's why they always needed me. To be their entertainment. So after a few months of trial and error we are now 4 months into a successful minimalist toy selection. And we are all loving it! So here is a step by step list of what I did to get my sanity back.
How To Minimize Your Kids Toys
This is a list of the steps we took. Everyones situation will look a little different.
1. Toss out everything that is broken or has missing pieces
- I did this step without my children around, and to be honest they never even noticed anything was missing.
- These are the toys that are often the root of the mess and frustration anyway.
2. Donate all toys that are no longer age appropriate
- This step will differ depending on whether or not your family is done having kids. If not, store these toys away in bins, out of sight and out of mind. That way when the next child, or baby is ready for them they will be in great shape.
3. Downsize the multiples
- This step was huge for us. We had multiples of puzzles, stuffed animals, colouring books, blocks ect.
- This step took me a little longer because I wanted to be intentional with what we kept and what we gave away.
- I allowed my children to pick out said amount of stuffed animals to keep, making sure to donate all those dollarstore or carnival ones that wouldn't last long anyway.
- As for puzzles and blocks I made sure to think long term and only keep what was going to last. As our point to all of this is to be intentional, and keep items that have longevity and can serve multiple purposes.
4. Have each child choose 5 favourite toys to keep
- Only one of my children was old enough to partake in this step, but it was interesting to see her choose her favourites.
- Something to note, I allowed my daughter to think about her choices for the day because her first reaction was to grab the first 5 things in front of her in fear that I was giving everything else away.
5. Have each child choose 5 toys to donate
- This is an eye opening experience. When you give a child the freedom and opportunity to give, its amazing how there little hearts shine!
- I made sure to allow our daughter to be the one to drop off her toys. We just took them to the local donation centre but it was so nice to see her face light up knowing she was helping another child.
- This also opened up more discussions about ways we can give in other areas, which she was so delighted to partake in.
6. Still have too many toys? Repeat steps 3 and 4.
- We repeated these steps every few weeks in the beginning until we hit our sweet spot with the amount of toys are children could handle. We find that they get overwhelmed with too much.
- We also repeat these steps after receiving any gifts.
7. Organize the remaining toys into accessible and like minded bins or baskets.
- Our bins are divided into categories, paw patrol in one basket, cars in another, ponies in the next.
- All baskets are very specific making clean up and play time a breeze.
- One thing I notice was making the baskets all the same, or mostly similar made cleaning even easier. The organizer in me wanted to label all the baskets but seeing as my children can't read that only made cleaning more stressful. This way if they dump all the toys they know as long as all like minded toys go in the same basket it doesn't matter what basket it is.
8. Tweak when needed, after birthdays and Christmas.
- This is an ongoing process, because obviously we all know how out of hand it can be.
- Since consciously minimizing our toys we came to realize how having less makes us all happier. And birthdays have become more about spending time together doing family outing then receiving gifts, and our kids are loving it! *My 5 year old even received money for her birthday and when I asked her what she wanted to do with her she responded "I don't want to buy something I want to use it to take our family somewhere fun!"
- This will be our first Christmas after minimizing our toys, so I will have to come back and update you all on how that goes!
I hope this helps you moms (and dads) out there with the stress that toys can bring. I can't believe how much simplifying our toy selection changed our families overall happiness. As cliche and it may be, less is truly more!
*** I should add we do have a few more things that are not pictured here that include a basket full of blocks, play-dough, books, and a kitchen set. In my opinion we still do have a lot of toys, but we have come a long way from what it looked like at the beginning of the year.