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Get Your Kids Organized: Six Steps to Decluttering Their Toys

Updated: Feb 12

Welcome to a brand new year! When it comes to the influx of kids’ toys after the holidays, “in with the new” doesn’t work so well if there isn’t also some “out with the old”. It can be difficult for your little ones to let go of their possessions, especially when they consider all of them prized ones. We, at Easy Life Organizing, have put together our six steps to decluttering toys to make this process a little less painful!


Six steps to decluttering toys

{Disclaimer: The steps below are recommended for children 4 and older.}


Step 1 - Start with a Conversation

Get down on their level. Explain that the toys will be donated to others who can't afford toys.


Step 2 - Words Matter

Don't use the words "get rid of" or "trash". Instead use "gift", "give", and "you loved it so much, let's give another boy/girl that same experience". Using the word "help" can motivate kids who love to help you in other ways.


Step 3 - "Keep it to play or give it away"

This sing-songy phrase makes the decision process more fun for your kids. I use this with my almost four-year-old, Owen, and it’s been a huge hit. The order of the words you say is important. Having the ‘give away’ option as the second option your child hears will naturally have them get rid of more things because it is the last thing they remember.


Step 4 - Take them with you

Let your kids choose where their toys go! Pick a couple of charities that accept used toys and let them pick which one their toys will go to. Take them with you so they can feel how being generous feels.


Step 5 - Be Flexible

Try a game of "this or that" or “keep two, donate one”. Keep in mind that every child is different! Also, age can play a big part in this process. Older kids may be more receptive to different ideas than younger ones.


Step 6 - Make it fun

Plan to do a fun activity with your child once they pare down their pile of toys. This can help lessen the blow of losing some of his/her stuff.


Here's a handy printable for you to have for easy reference!

Decluttering Toys - Getting the Kids Involved (2)
.pdf
Download PDF • 81KB


Common Objections when Decluttering Toys

We recognize that the above process can be much easier said than done. Your kids won’t let their property leave your home without putting up a good fight. The following is a list of objections you will likely hear and how to address them:


  1. "Why do I need to get rid of my toys?": Children might struggle to understand the benefits of decluttering. Explaining the idea of making space for new toys, donating to other kids who might need them, or keeping the room organized and easier to find favorite toys can help.

  2. "But I love all my toys!": This is a classic objection. Kids form attachments to their toys, making it hard to part with them. Encourage them to think about which toys they use the most or which ones they’ve outgrown. It’s also helpful to involve them in the process, allowing them to choose which toys to keep and which to donate. (This is where a game of “this or that” or “keep two, donate one” comes in handy.)

  3. "I might want to play with it later!": Children worry that if they give something away, they'll miss it later. Assure them that they can keep their absolute favorites and explain how donating toys can bring joy to other kids who might not have toys. Another idea is to put these toys far out of the way in the basement or garage for a set time (1-2 months) and see if they ask for them before getting rid of them forever.

  4. "What if I need it for something?": Kids often see potential uses for their toys, even if they rarely use them. You can gently explain that if they haven’t needed it in a while, it might be better off with someone else who will use and appreciate it more.

  5. "It's too hard to decide!": Sometimes, the sheer volume of toys can overwhelm kids. Help them by sorting toys into categories (e.g., favorite toys, rarely used toys, broken toys) and then discussing which ones they truly treasure.

  6. "But it's special to me!": Kids attach sentimental value to toys, regardless of their condition or use. Validate their feelings and explain that while the toy itself might not be kept, the memories associated with it will always remain. Sometimes the parents are guilty of not wanting to get rid of sentimental items. If a child doesn’t attach sentimental value to a toy, then you need to be able to let it go, too.

  7. "I don't know where to start!": Decluttering can be a daunting task. Offer to help them begin by suggesting a specific area or type of toy, making the process more manageable.


How/Where to Get Rid of Items

Once you have helped your children decide which toys they are willing to donate, then there comes the question of where to take them. We’ve got you covered! Here is a list of places to take your donations in the greater Lansing area:


Donation Centers:
  • The Salvation Army

  • Goodwill

  • Volunteers of America

  • St. Vincent Catholic Charities

  • City Rescue Mission

  • Give or Take Center (East Lansing)

  • Free, Cheap, and Antique Store

  • Local churches


Places to Donate Children’s Books:
  • Local libraries

  • Daycare centers

  • Preschools

  • Elementary schools

  • The Reading People (Capital Area Literacy Coalition)


Secondhand Stores:
  • Once Upon A Child

  • Carousel Consignments (Okemos)

  • You Found It (E-Commerce service)

  • Thrifty Treasures (East Lansing)

  • New N Used Goodies


Share your decluttering toys story in the comments or tell us your experience if you've used our six steps! Happy Decluttering!




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