Ideas for managing your child’s toys

070803-laundrybasket.jpgIt occurred to me the other day when my fifteen month old daughter was playing with a laundry basket that we have too many toys for her. My wife and I have bought her absolutely no toys. Friends and family are the culprits and the toy count rises as she gets older. She is obviously happy pushing around a perfectly good laundry basket, so why purchase a toy for the same purpose? The laundry basket is a good multi-tasking alternative.

So what does one do to stop the accumulation of more toys?

Contribute: We’ve tried telling family members to contribute to our daughter’s college savings account and that seems to work to an extent, but people still buy toys because contributing to an account is boring.

Return: We resorted to returning items to the store when the gift receipt was included. The threats of returning toys to the store seem to work a bit, but not as well as one would think.

Grandparent’s House: Whenever the grandparents buy a new toy we immediately say, “Oh, that is perfect for grandma’s house.” Let them deal with the clutter and you won’t have to pack toys when you go for a visit.

Donate: When new toys come into the house, donate your child’s less popular toys to charity. This will keep the toy collection reasonable.

12 Comments for “Ideas for managing your child’s toys”

  1. posted by Mark on

    Store and Rotate the Toys!

    Here’s how we handle all the stuff our four-year-old has accumulated that doesn’t fit into our tiny New England living room.

    We have four or five big rubbermaid bins in the basement full of toys. We have ONE bin in the living room. She can have any toys she wants in the one bin in the living room. When she’s tired of the toys she has we carry the living room bin to the basement and open up all the bins so she can peruse through them. She swaps toys back and forth until we have a new set of toys to bring back upstairs. Sometimes we just put a lid on the old bin and take a full one from the basement up to the living room.

    Works great and keeps the living room (reasonably) clutter free.

  2. posted by Ivan Vega on

    Heh, my daughter also has loads of fun pushing the laundry basket around, using it as a hiding place, or as a vehicle (when pulled or pushed around).

    I’m planning on taking her to a christmas gift-giving spree this year so we give away some of her toys, and she can begin to learn to enjoy the feeling of helping other children to boot.

    PS: My first comment on your site! I’ve been enjoying yours posts since I subscribed. Thanks a lot for all the useful information you share with us.

  3. posted by Diane Pierce on

    I just love your site! I was wondering where you found that basket pictured with the article? I’d like to pick one up like that but can’t seem to find them in white or pink. Can you help?
    Thanks!! Keep up the great posts!

  4. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    Diane —

    The basket comes from Amazon. I don’t know about white or pink, but the one in the photo can be found here.

    I actually own this basket, and the comfort handles fell off of it within the first few months of me owning it. Just to let you know before you buy …

  5. posted by Kelly on

    We have two kids, soon to be three, and live in a 700 square foot house, so as you can imagine, the toys can quickly become overwhelming. We leave a lot of stuff at the grandparents’ house, or I ask for specific things like pyjamas or books, but most importantly, I regularly sort and trash, donate or sell things. This is the only thing that allows us to keep a handle on the clutter.

  6. posted by Elizabeth on

    You might try reappraising the way you’re looking at things. To you, the presents are clutter. To the people who are giving the toys, they are expressions of love.

    I’m a parent, too, and believe me, I have flinched when my household has had to absorb umpteen stuffed animals and hideous dolls, especially ones that loudly deliver cloying messages. Sure, I’d rather have the cost of those presents in my child’s savings account. But hey, the person wants to give my child a toy. It’s not my call.

    One thing you can try: Put high shelves in your child’s closets. Keep a fixed number of toys on active duty, and rotate them. The others stay on those shelves.
    Or: for every new toy that comes into the house, one toy goes out.

  7. posted by Monica Ricci on

    I was just talking to a friend the other day about how kids get enjoyment out of the simplest “NON-toy” items around the house. It seems silly to be buying so many toys for kids when they’re perfectly happy with a shoebox, a laundry basket, or some wooden spoons. Kids just don’t need nearly as much to be happy as we imagine they do. Try them, see what happens.

  8. posted by Diane Pierce on

    To Erin –
    Thanks for the info on the basket – much appreciated!!

  9. posted by c7j on

    I picked this basket up at Kmart a few months ago and it has held up well, thus far 🙂

  10. posted by Doodaddy on

    You know, I totally agree with Monica — we use kitchen items for toys all the time! Then, though, we find ourselves either “short of” or “needing to wash” or “unable to find” some of the tupperware, spoons, or boxes that we’d appropriated to be toys! So part of the reason for having a designated set of “toys” (whether of the consumer toy or kitchen-spoon variety) is so that we can keep our tools in their usual “kits”…

  11. posted by Karryn on

    Toys make me crazy! You should have heard the outcry when I requested donations to the food bank in lieu of presents for my daughter’s fifth birthday party. ONE parent complied. One. But that one parent said, “Like I need to contribute to landfills? This is such a cool idea, I’m doing it for my kid’s birthday.” What I’d like to give my child for a present is the feeling of giving to those in need. You can’t wrap that up.

  12. posted by Food for Thought. « on

    […] have seen our child enjoy the box more than the toy inside at Christmas.  In the meantime maybe this on Unclutterer will give us some ideas on how to manage the […]

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