Control Toy Clutter

Toy clutterChristmas is almost here and despite our requests for restraint from our friends and family we know our kids will get a new load of toys. Time to make room.

We are not even six months into our new home and already it is cluttered with toys. Before we made the move we sold a pile of toys at our garage sale and gave even more away to friends and charity and yet the clutter has followed us. Where did all these toys come from? Most of the toys that are cluttering up our home are not really being played with so will they really be missed? If the thrill is gone, time for them to move on.

I will often quote the Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule) when I am looking for justification to be more efficient, or in this case make the house less cluttered. It is true that our kids will spend at least 80% of their time playing with only 20% of the toys. This creates an opportunity to get rid of the 80% that are hardly played with. The real challenge is getting the 80% out of the house. There are two ways to go about this.

  1. Get the kids out of the house and go nuts. You make the choices and see if they notice. I would suggest hanging on to the stuff for a week just in case you accidently choose one of the prime 20% toys. This will work well for younger kids but you may be asking for trouble at any age.
  2. Get the kids involved in the clean-up. Honesty can be a pretty good tactic. The other day we decided that we would donate as many toys as possible to charity so we got Annika to fill a large bag that she wanted to give away to children who are not as lucky as she is. Once she understood that she was not to fill the bag with her brother and sisterstoy truck02 toys she did very well. It is very hard to achieve your 80% goal all at once this way but this procedure can be repeated frequently.

Toys are so plentiful these days that most have very little value, unless they are collector’s items or play structures. I argue that the space you clear up is far more valuable than the toys themselves so get rid of them fast. Through away the toys that are broken or have no value at all and donate the rest to charity. You can try and sell the few things that may have some value but do it quickly. I always enjoy a de-cluttered play room though I know that somehow the toys will multiply again. Where do they all come from?

  6 comments for “Control Toy Clutter

  1. Paul
    January 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Martin said: “….but there should be quality over quantity.”
    Uhhh, but what happened to my mantra ‘He who dies with the most toys wins’, Martin? Has Santa led me along the wrong path????!!~

  2. Paul
    December 22, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Point taken, Martin. Sons Luke and Martin just flew in from West Oz and Montreal. Happy Christmas to you all! Watch out for that Ozcan fella. He posts some very seditious URLS!! Trying to save the planet, we think… :)

  3. Paul & Janet, Campbell River
    December 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    “Toys are so plentiful these days that most have very little value, unless they are collector’s items or play structures.” As a teacher, I’m not sure I completely agree. Our 4YOs favourite tools back in 1989 were small carpenters/mechanics tools. He loved those tools… _slept_ with them, in fact. By 12 he had built his first computer. I’d have to agree that there are some pretty useless toys around; and that many families don’t discriminate; but there are some toys outside your criteria which may be highly beneficial to kids’ development, Martin.
    Cheers, Paul

    • December 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      Thank you Paul for the Comment,
      I meant the word ‘value’ in the monetary sense, not as a tool for development. I didn’t make my point clear so I will try and clarify. Prior to that statement I had said that parents should identify the 20% of toys the kids play most of the time and get rid of the 80% that they do not play with. The tools that you described definetely would fall into the 20% that are to be kept and cherished. Based on the re-sell value of toys today I would recommend donating the toys to get rid of quickly instead of trying to sell unless they have some monetary value. Toys are important for a childs development but there should be quality over quantity.

  4. erin
    December 4, 2009 at 8:26 am

    If you use Option #1, be sure to use BLACK, OPAQUE garbage bags. If the gaffers see so much of a shadow of one of their “beloved” toys…the trouble begins :)

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