It happens gradually, right under your nose. A small toy here and there gets brought in. Large birthday parties and Christmas quickly add to the toy count. It seems manageable but then it hits you one day.
You walk through the living room and step on yet another matchbox car discarded on the rug by your son. You lean over to pick it up and as you stand up, you see it. The house you spent hours decorating, cleaning, and tending to is covered.
You see them in every room. LEGOs on your kitchen counter, Playmobil pieces on the table in the living room, a pile of Magna-Tiles strewn across the floor.
There are toys everywhere.
As you stand there and take notice, you wonder how it got this way. How in the world did all these little remnants of play take over your home?
It’s time to clean out.
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You gather your kids, make two piles, one to keep and one to toss, and tell them it’s time to clean out. You’re determined to get rid of this mess toy by toy. It’s time to reclaim your house!
You start simple and grab the old teddy bear that’s been sitting in the corner for over a year and unceremoniously throw it in the toss pile.
Your 6 year old runs over, grabs the bear, clutches it against his chest and proceeds to tell you how much he still loves his bear. It’s his most favorite thing in the world, and you can’t get rid of it!!! Tears well up in his eyes.
Begrudgingly, you move it over to the keep pile.
You watch as toy by toy the keep pile grows. Each toy has a story, a purpose, and can not be tossed
After an hour of sorting, pleading, and heavy negotiations, the keep pile is overflowing with toys. Meanwhile, the pitiful toss pile has a few gum wrappers and broken dollar store toys. This was not the robust heap of toys you imagined getting out of your house.
Somehow your kids have turned into mini-hoarders and are completely incapable of getting rid of a single toy.
Secretly, you make plans on what you will sneak out of the house when they’re are sleeping. This stuff as got to go.
There’s a better way.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s one simple thing you can do today to reclaim your house from the toy clutter.
Ask your kids what they want to keep, instead of what they want to get rid of.
Yep, it’s that simple.
Tell them to pick our their favorite toys and set them aside, then the rest will be donated or thrown away.
By just rephrasing how you ask them to get rid of things, they see cleaning out in a different light.
Instead of picking out things they have to lose, they choose to keep their most favorite things. It no longer feels like they are losing their possessions.
It’s all about changing their perspective.
By flipping to the positive, it’s easier for them to hone in on what their favorite things are and get rid of the rest.
Take it one step further and give them a set amount of toys they get to keep or a certain amount of space, like shelves in their room, that they get to fill. The rest will be donated.
This idea follows the popular KonMari style of tidying up. It’s teaching children to only keep the things that bring them joy, the things that they love. The rest is just clutter.
It’s simple, but I promise it works!
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This is a great twist to getting rid of stuff! I am currently moving 2 of my kids from separate to joined rooms and trying to only keep good stuff that gets used. It’s hard! I was actually able to stuff 6 trash bags of just junk to throw away. It was incredibly uplifting, like a breath of fresh air! Items to “keep” is a great strategy. I hope others do the same 🙂
Such a simple and wonderful idea! Isn’t it amazing what a little change in our language can do for our families?
Yes! It’s a neat thing to see how such a small thing can make a huge difference. Our words matter 🙂
I’m a retired therapist and mother to two thirty somethings, with babies on the way. I have also read Marie Kondo’s book. Over many years I learned children have their own emotional strengths and loyalties. Adults many find it easier to unhoard their homes than children with emotional attachments. Do it gradually, older children might appreciate earning extra money through garage sales ( like my son).