Decluttering the house: how to clear some of your child’s toys

Studies show children play better with fewer toys, engaging in longer, more focused periods of play
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Your house is full to bursting, especially now that children are spending more time at home during the holidays. Around every corner is an obstacle just waiting to cause you an injury.

Children certainly bring a lot of stuff into our homes and tend to show strong resistance to getting rid of any of it. If you regularly find yourself telling off inanimate objects that do not belong to you, it may be time to declutter your child’s room.

As well as helping you to feel calmer and more at peace with your space, clearing out some of your children’s toys could also benefit them. Studies show that children play better with fewer toys, engaging in longer, more focused periods of play when the number of toys is limited.

Children are often reluctant to part with their possessions, but there are a few ways to make decluttering easier for them. Start by explaining to your child why it’s important to declutter.

Your reasons will be personal to you but may include giving them more space to play; creating room for new toys on their birthday or Christmas; helping your child learn the importance of donating unused items.

Help children understand how they will help others by donating some of their toys.

It might help to discuss with your child the plan for the toys that they will not keep. If you plan to donate them, have a chat with your child about charity shops/children’s charities to help them understand that they will help others with their donations.

Alternatively, you could have a garage sale of the toys and allow your child to keep the money; this option provides a day of entertainment running the garage sale and is likely to motivate your child to get rid of more items.

While these suggestions work well with older children, you may find that decluttering a younger child’s room works better with less input from them. If you are decluttering alone, first consider which toys are regularly played with and which are hardly used (it may help to monitor your child’s play a bit closer for a few weeks to assess this). If a toy is rarely used or not played with properly, it can probably go. If you are unsure about a toy, a good trick is to hide it away for a while; if, after six months, it hasn’t been asked for, you’re safe to throw it out.

“If your child truly adores all their toys, you may need to consider a toy rotation”

Younger children can still get involved with decluttering but you may want to make it more of a game. Grab a pack of sticky labels and write ‘keep’ on some and ‘get rid’ on others (if your child cannot read, a green tick and red cross will work just as well). Set a timer on your phone and challenge your child to stick labels on as many items as they can before it goes off. Getting them to think quickly about what to keep and what to throw away can help remove long discussions about items.

If your child truly adores all their toys, you may need to consider a toy rotation. While this won’t technically remove the toys from your house, it may help reduce the number of toys you trip over daily. Separate the toys into categories, then keep some stored away, rotating the toys that are out to be played with on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

Reducing your child’s store of toys can be hard work, but it will be so worth it to have back a clear floor and a clearer mind.

Also read ‘No, I still want that‘. For more Top Tips click here. For more Child articles, follow this link.

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