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getting rid of kids' stuff


musicianmom
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I need to help my children let go of some of their stuff in a way that is respectful to them while acknowledging that the clutter is beyond what is healthy for our family, especially me. I feel like I have no control over my own home. The clutter is so bad that I don't clean like I should because the pre-cleaning pickup is so overwhelming and demoralizing. I long just to do a sweep and get rid of nearly everything, but I don't want to upset them in a way that will stay with them into adulthood.

 

Any ideas?

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Can you box up some stuff for a trial period:

 

Say, " I think it would be so much easier to play if you had room to move and could find your toys. let's put a bunch of them in this box and put them away for a while. If you think you really need something we can always go get it. And while we're doing that if you want to give some toys away, or we find anything broken we'll pull out those too."

 

Take in a big storage box, and 2 trash bags, (one for donating, one for trash) Be sure it is an opaque box and bags, out of sight, out of mind.

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My kids are a bit older than yours, but could you make a few new bins/shelves and ask for them to label the "main toys" they use to go there?

What I did is I got 3 underbed boxes for each of my boys and labeled 1 "_____'s treasure box" for each DS and 1 legos , 1 cars/trucks, 1 duplos and 1 Hero Factory (a type of lego they have a lot of). What ever was left from picking up their room, they could go through and put in their treasure box. Puzzles/books/board games went on communal shelves. 

We have since added 1 box for DS10's beyblades and 1 box for wooden blocks.

For the girl's we had: "_______'s treasure box", 1 box each for their dolly's clothes, bottles, etc. , 1 box for play food/tea sets, 1 box for their lego friends, 1 box for doll house and furniture, and 1 box for dress up clothes.

Since then I have added 1 box for DD8 "play preschool" things (she loves to teach her dolls) and 1 box for Melissa & Doug magnetic dress up dolls.

Everything has to go in one of those boxes (except nerf guns and outdoor toys,those are separate).

So basically all that to say sort the main categories of toys and then allow them one box of "their stuff". Mine have to go through it if it gets too full and pick and choose.

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We take pix of art work and treasures that create clutter, and then we make photobooks that take up much less space. As for toys, I would make them help you go through every toy they own. We did this a few years ago, and they quickly decided that they had too much stuff. We encouraged them to get rid of things they did not play with to give to kids who do not have many toys. Now we have a rule that nothing new comes in before we clean out old stuff, especially at Christmas and birthdays.

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I would give them the opportunity to do it themselves, but in my experience they won't let go of enough for it to make a difference. So they need to leave the house and you need to go through with a trashbag and get rid of all the restaurant menus, broken things, happy meal toys, and things you know they haven't played with in a long time. I will also go through and put things in the attic, and when they ask, I say, it's in the attic. And if it's in the attic for months and no one asks, it disappears to Goodwill. When they say, where is x? I say either I gave it away, or I don't know, because I DON'T know where it is :D

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I long just to do a sweep and get rid of nearly everything.

 

Then just do it!!!  You'll be glad you did.  :D

 

You could give each child a (small) box or bin and have them fill it with their favorites - the rest goes.  let them decide.

 

Or... tell them to give you one item per day to donate / toss for, say, one month, or through the summer.

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You can have a nice talk about their favorite toys and what they play with most. Then talk about kids who don't have any or many toys and how nice it would be to donate to charity. Then pick and pack and drive it out together.

 

In another direction, I have two future banker types who would happily sell virtually anything for cash at a yard sale or on eBay. LOL So you can offer to host a sale and let them keep the profits and/or pool them to buy something nice for all the kids.

 

What I wouldn't do is a giant sweep without warning. Getting rid of trinkets that you know won't be missed is one thing. Getting rid of things to an extent that will shock them is another.

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Not long ago I bribed my kids to get rid of some things. ;) As in, I paid them. It's easier than a garage sale but this way they still get some money for it. :) And yes, they want to put that money toward new toys but they have to save up for them, so the rate of toys going out of the house is faster than that coming in.

 

We're going to do a big cull soon and I'm going to start with pick your five favourite toys and put them in this box, and then choose five to give away, now choose five more favourites, etc and see how that goes.

 

I find older siblings were happy to 'give away' things to their younger siblings. They don't want to give them completely away but are happy to have them boxed up for when baby is older.

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I have to decluttered the playroom about once a year to keep it livable. The best and most drastic method I have used was to give each child a number-I think it was five-of toys they could keep. They really had to be selective. I also chose some bins of toys that I wanted them to have. Everything else,we donated. We did it before Christmas. There were enough toys to be gifts for 30 kids. I loaded the van 3 times. It was crazy.

Since then, our clutter is so much more reasonable.

I do the same with clothes. They choose ten shirts, ten pants ,ten pjs. Everything else is packed or donated.

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Maybe you can help your kids organize a garage sale, and they get to keep all of the money.  Talk about which toys (I'm assuming that's what it mostly is??) are their favorites, and keep those.  At the same time, perhaps you can help them focus on a special activity as opposed to a toy.  You can tell them that the day after the garage sale you will go on a picnic somewhere fun, or play mini golf, or whatever they think of as special.

 

Another thing you can do is help your children understand that their toys that they rarely play with will make some other children who don't have many toys, happy!  Donate them.  If they are part of that whole process it can be a neat thing for them.

 

And of course something else you can do is to just put away things now and then that they don't seem to play with.  Pack them away -- but not too far.  After a month or so if they haven't asked for them, get rid of them.

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When my kids were little, they used to help me pack things up to give away. We had a special place for the favorite toys and as long as those won't touched, they didn't seem to mind too much. I'd have to make suggestions though because they wouldn't necessarily volunteer things. I'd hold something up and ask about it. Really though, they were pretty good about not keeping too many toys. The other thing I did was put things away in the attic. That was easier for them because they weren't really getting rid of it. Then some months later, I'd bring them down and have the kids go through them again. If there was anything greatly missed, we took it out. If there was anything they weren't sure of, we'd put them back in the attic until the next time. But there were always things they were willing to get rid of.

 

Now, when I had to do that with the children's books, it was much more difficult to let things go. :tongue_smilie:

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Clear out their toys while their sleeping. :)

 

Leave some for them to play with (favorites) and put everything else in banker storage boxes or whatever.  Not sure if you'd have space to store the boxes or not, we keep ours in the garage and every now and then some one finds a box to bring in, but we make sure to put them back after a few days when the novelty wears off.

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If you haven't read Simplicity Parenting, it has really great, clear advice for toy reduction.  Start with the following:

 

- Anything broken or missing essential pieces (puzzles, games, etc)- toss immediately

- Anything kids are ready to pass on and are in good condition- put into donate box

- Anything that is duplicate, put into donate box

- With the pile that is left, reduce it by half.  You can use the garage as a storage area to get the toys out of sight and out of mind.  Within a few days, the kids won't even remember they are missing.  If after a couple of weeks, they are still asking for a specific toy, allow them to swap for it.  After a few months, donate what is in the garage.

 

- Keep the quality items- open ended, creative toys.  Remove anything that came from McD's, is battery operated and annoying, belongs to a marketing line (Disney, etc.). 

 

After you've reduced by half, you will probably find you can cut the remaining pile in half again in six months and still have plenty.  Establish rules for incoming toys:  Each of my kids gets 3 stuffed animals in their bed, and that's IT.  All others go down to the basement storage, and the ones that they have no emotional attachment to get quietly donated away.  Before birthdays and Christmas, we do another major purge, repeating the steps above, basically. 

 

My kids seem to play with the same 10% of the toys 90% of the time.  I now keep a few quality toy items that go into rotation, so at any given time, a few quality toys are in our basement.  If they want to get one of those, we swap it out with something in the house.  So the wooden train set can be swapped for the duplos, the kitchen and its toys can be swapped for the dollhouse and its toys, etc.  Toys that are ALWAYS in the playroom are the legos... pretty much everything else is optional.  :-) 

 

 

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AFter you find a way to reduce the number of toys you have, figure out how to lessen how many MORE toys come in.

 

Do you have loving relatives who enjoy showering the kids with toys?  Would they be open to paying for 'experiences' instead?  Children;s museum memberships? Dance classes? Big Kid bedroom make-over? Day at the amusement park? Outdoor playset?

 

Do you often stop at the Dollar Store for a reward for good behavior?  Stop at the ice cream stand or roadside fruit stand instead.

 

When you buy a new toy, have them figure out BEFORE which toy it will be replacing. Doesn't ave to be an even trade- a Lego set for a Babrie?  Fine- at least SOMETHING is going OUT!

 

Do you have Grandparents nearby?  If they spend a lot of time at Grannie's, pack up a special tote of toys to keep at her house. These would be the "B-list" toys that don;t get played with often, but that you/the kids don;t want to get rid of.

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My kids help declutter (and it's time for us to do it again).  The thing that has helped them the most at being "ready" to give things away is actually seeing and realizing that there are kids very close to us that have NO toys.  We have volunteered in a very low-income area, where kids literally get SOOOO excited about a naked Barbie doll or half of a puzzle.  My eight year old helped my hubby take clothes to one of the "houses" and realized when she got to their door how good she has it.  She felt so sorry for the kids there (who had NO toys and were sleeping on beach towels on a plywood floor) that she came home and immediately cleaned out over half of her toys to take back.  Now, when I say it's time to clean out toys, my kids ask where we are taking the ones they get rid of.  If we are taking them to give away to kids less fortunate, we have much better success at decluttering.  

 

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