By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The method is extreme but effective. You basically have to get messy to get clean. Her method calls for collecting every item of a specific category and putting it in the middle of the room. You then touch every item and decided if it makes you happy and/or serves a purpose. You discard what doesn’t make you happy and keep what does. Its intense and time consuming and it really does work. I donated 12 bags of clothing earlier this year using her method.
That being said, however, Kondo does not mention children or there…..well…crap…in her book. For most of the kids’ stuff, you can just apply the adult method (when cleaning their closets, I went category by category – socks, tops, PJs etc.) but there is NO mention of tackling the biggest clutter in my house – TOYS. Which is why I wanted to share my method of madness with all of you. You’ll see HUGE results if you do it correctly!
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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Basics
I do recommend that you either read or listen to Marie Kondo’s book. There are some crazier sentiments in there – no, I did not thank my old underwear for its years of service – but the basic concepts are spot on.
First, Tidying by room is not the way to go because multiple items can be housed all over. Scissors, for example, I have in just about every room in the house. Which is OK at the end of the process but hard to access when cleaning room by room.
Secondly, you need to stop worrying about sentimental attachment. This one can be hard. Often times I attack a pile fiercely in the beginning and then slow down and get sentimental. That’s when you need to stop, reset and come back later.
Lastly, you MUST get items out ASAP. The longer they are in the house, the more opportunities for your in-laws, children or friends to evaluate your pile and explain why you need items you have already decided to give away. In the heat of cleaning, I will make multiple stops in a week or load my car with each bag for donation as it fills up.
Those are some of the key rules of the KonMari Method (that’s what Marie Kondo calls her cleaning style.) But others will certainly apply to the toy situation too – Take everything out per category even if you think you are keeping it, don’t put it away until it’s all be whittled down etc. Read the book it will help.
Applying the KonMari Method to Toys
OK!!! On to my real life example of tidying. Because of the layout of my home, I have 2 playrooms and a basement in my house. The basement is where the kids do art and ride on plasma cars or play sports. The main level dining room is currently a playroom, as seen above, because our old dining room furniture didn’t work for the new house AND we wanted to keep our main family room free of toys.
We play and store all the games in the family room and as you can see, we have sooooo many games. At 3 and 5, my kids aren’t quite ready to play unsupervised yet and the kitchen is large enough for holiday meals so we have decided to forgo a formal dining room for the next few years.
In our Cape Cod style home, the boys have the entire top floor to themselves including yet another playroom. While this room will eventually be their main hangout, right now it is used very occasionally and was more storage than play space – until now.
Categories are Your Friend
When I did research online, I saw people taking every toy they owned and putting it in one pile in one room. The thought made me break out in hives. I decided to create my own categories for tackling the kids’ stuff. I gathered one or two categories at a time and made piles for the kids and me to go through.
The categories are as follows.
- Toy Vehicles
- Marbles/Marble Runs
- Baby Toys
- Musical Instruments
- Stuffed Animals
- Pretend Play – Food, Tools, Cleaning Supplies, Etc.
- Bath Toys
- Figurines (superheroes, shopkins, paw patrol and the like)
- Playmobil (a MAJOR category in my house)
- Blocks and Building Toys (Knex, Magnatiles, Dominoes, etc.)
- Kids Sport Equipment
- Bikes, Scooter and Ride Ons
- Outdoor Toys
- Kids Furniture
- Barbies and accessories
- Baby Dolls and accessories
- Board Games and Card Games
- Kinetic Sand
- Art Supplies (depending on how much you have, you may want to subdivide as I did.)
- Paints and brushes
- Coloring books
- Markers, Crayons, Chalk
- Scissors, Rulers
- Project Kits
- Stickers (UGH. SO. MANY. STICKERS.)
- Miscellaneous Craft Supplies (like spirographs, etch-a-sketches, etc.)
Whew!!! What a list. I don’t have any preference for performing tasks in any order. I did choose smaller or easier tasks first and left longer task – like Playmobil – for when I had more time.
Before and After
Are you ready to see some before and after shots?
First, the upstairs playroom.
Now lets move onto the downstairs playroom where I had just as much progress!
As you can see, we made quite a dent in the loads of toys. Lest you think I simply put stuff away neatly, allow me to show you the piles of stuff to be given away.
Is that startling or what? I had NO idea we had that much stuff just sitting around the house not getting used. It’s actually a little nauseating when I think about it. I have a few final tips I learned while decluttering the toys.
Tips for Tidying with Kids
- Get the kids involved. Let them go through the pile and pick what they like and what they want to giveaway. I was very surprised at a.) how little emotional attachment they had to their toys b.) their willingness to part with so much stuff.
- Don’t let the kids get too involved – When I was doing the toy vehicle pile, I put some directly into the giveaway pile that I hadn’t seen them play in years. Sometimes letting them rediscover old toys isn’t worth it. When they did see my auto-donate pile, they tried to rummage through and claim some. I let them each “rescue” one or 2 vehicles and donated the rest. This made it easier for them to part with more trucks and cars in the pile they were meant to help me sort.
- Sometimes you need to not let them get involved at all. My kids adore Playmobil. We have so much that I knew if they got involved it would never get done. So I waited until they were in bed and spent 2 hours removing broken pieces, sorting smaller items into bins and donating stuff I knew they didn’t use.
- This is a rule I mentioned earlier but GET IT OUT. I saved my stuff around the house for the exact purpose of photographing it all for you at the end. When I usually do it I get it out ASAP. The kids kept wanting to look at pile or move things around. Better to get it out before anyone has a second chance.
- Don’t be lazy. If I can walk around to 3 areas of the house to round up little toy cars, so can you. It’s worth it to tackle the whole category at once. When you see how much of one item you have, it’s much easier to chuck some of it.
- Don’t get discouraged. Guys. It took me 4 weeks to do this. FOUR. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. you’ll drive yourself (and your kids and husbands) crazy!
WHEW. That’s all folks! Was it helpful? Did I miss anything? Let me know how the cleaning goes for you!!