Overrun with toys? How to declutter the playroom!

If your kids regularly leave the playroom five minutes after they go in, complaining of nothing to play with, yet it’s packed with toys, here’s why.

Kids are no different from us when it comes to clutter. If you walk into a room positively overflowing with stuff, you don’t know where to look, it feels stressful, and you feel like, what? Walking right back out of there. That’s my point.

Believe it or not, kids thrive when not overwhelmed with options. Kids become overstimulated when they have a vast amount of toys, which can cause anxiety.

Nowadays, kids in the Western world have hundreds, if not thousands, of toys! It’s a complete madness.

A point that I would love to make is this: It’s Christmas; the kids have been lovingly given expensive presents from you, extended family and friends. There are shiny new toys all over the place, patiently waiting to be played with; you turn around to look at your child adoringly, and they happily sit and play with the cardboard packaging.

We’ve all been there. It can be infuriating.

19 min

Now, I’m not suggesting you…

Never buy your kids a new toy again, but I urge you to be mindful about what and how much you choose to buy them. Our kids do not need the volume of stuff we buy; if anything, it’s detrimental. As I’m sure you well know, too much stuff causes overwhelm, leading to anxiety.

You don’t have to “keep up with the Jones.”

I’m not claiming to be a child psychologist here, but I’ve done a lot of research into the topic and decluttered many playrooms in my time! Everything here is true in my experience.

How will I know which toys to declutter?

I believe that the best toys for children, especially young ones who aren’t trying to outdo their mates, are toys that inspire constructive or imaginary play. Here are a few examples:

  • Dress-up clothes
  • Puzzles, brain teasers and games for one
  • Trains, building or construction sets
  • Playsets, dollhouses and figurines
  • Arts and crafts sets
  • Books

You’ll know their current favourites, but It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what your kids play with over a week or so, keep a note and make sure you don’t get rid of anything they tend to gravitate towards. At the end of the day, they likely won’t remember half of the toys they have if they haven’t been able to get to them, so you’re pretty safe to let go of anything hidden in the depths!

I have to be honest here: I genuinely dislike plastic toys! I’m not a total eco-warrior, but the amount of broken and cheaply made plastic toys I see daily being chucked out is annoying, and often they can’t be recycled. I adore traditional wooden toys that bring back a sense of nostalgia, and even though yes, they can sometimes be more expensive. Less is more in this game, and I’d rather pay more for something that will last and buy less! I can guarantee it’s cheaper in the long run.

You’ll be amazed at what you can pick up in charity or thrift shops. I’ve seen some beautiful vintage-style wooden toys for next to nothing. Super sustainable and friendly on your purse. Just give them a thorough clean, and you’re good to go! I’m not snobby about this.

For more information about how to recycle, donate and get rid of unwanted toys, click here to read my previous article.

To declutter with or without the kids?

The decluttering process can be quite different depending on how old your child is.

Each child is completely different, and you know yours better than anyone, so use your judgment on this. Like all decluttering, there is no one-size-fits-all. In the majority of cases, your child will benefit from the process. It will aid with their decision-making skills, and they’ll learn how to keep their toys tidy.

I have decluttered with and without kids in client homes and my step-children’s toys.

If you have a real clutter problem that’s causing severe family tension and potentially causing a strain on your child’s mental health, then I suggest you go ahead and get it on with it by yourself when they are out.

On the other hand, if it’s manageable and you’d like to see a slight reduction in their collection, then, by all means, get them involved!

Prepare for the event:

Grab yourself some bags and boxes; bags for life are great for this! You’ll need quite a few as they are handy when putting sets of things together. Have a few cardboard boxes if you can, or strong bags for donation items. You’ll be sorting into keep, donate, sell, recycle and rubbish

Getting started

A great thing to do is dump all of the toys into the middle of the room and get stuck in, categorising as you go and putting parts of sets back together (this is where the bags come in handy). If you’re doing this with young kids, they will probably go wild at this point! But it’s all fun and games. You’ll notice what they are picking up or ignoring, too. Toddlers are easy and often have an “out of sight, out of mind ” attitude. Once you have identified the things they don’t play with, put them aside. Use your judgment, but you may want to keep a few things you’re unsure about to the side for a week or so, just in case they mention it!

Gather all the toys together.

If possible, it’s beneficial to get all toys from around the house together so that you can find out if there are missing parts to anything.

Then group like for like together. You can now start the real decluttering process. Get rid of any duplicates or very similar things, anything that’s too broken to fix or anything your kids have grown out of and no longer play with.

Donate or sell the toys.

Now, decide what you would like to sell and what you’re going to donate.

I advise you to call your chosen charity shops before setting off as quite often they, like you were, can be overrun with too many toys and they occasionally stop taking them for a time!

Facebook marketplace is a great way to sell toys and get shot of them quickly, especially if you’re listing them for free! I’ve had things collected within the hour…

If you are happy to let things go for free, you can also try the Olio app. Its primary purpose is for food-sharing, but you can list almost anything on there, and again people will collect rapidly. I once showed a client how to download Olio and list a few food items. She instantly had several messages, and someone turned up at the door to collect them 20 minutes later!

Time to organise

A great way to organise kids’ toys is to sort them into categories, store like-for-like items together and use bin drawers or boxes, which you can then label. If your children are tiny, you can use picture labels instead, which will help them to put things back in the correct place.

Now you can enjoy these benefits:

  1. Fewer toys to organise
  2. Less toys to clean and clean around
  3. Hopefully, increased time spent playing with constructive toys will benefit their learning and development.
  4. A change in attitude towards toys and more mindful purchases in the future!

If you have any questions, comment below or drop me a line on Instagram

Did you find this post useful? If so, please comment below to let me know!

Amy xx

-Your decluttering bestie

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  1. Maggie

    and also have cake to hand to give energy and see you through the stress!

    • Amy Prior

      This is a very good point! Snacks are always a good idea 🙂


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