The Great Toy Purge

I had a reader ask me recently “Julie, how do you get kids to purge their toys? We are moving in the next month and I NEED to get my son’s toy area reduced!!”  Such a great question.

It’s usually easy for us mother’ to purge toys.  Things that relatives have given our children that we hate or are too noisy.  Toys that we don’t see our children enjoying and playing with.  Large toys that take up lots of room.  These are easy for us…but what do you do when your child is old enough to have strong opinions about their toys.  If you just up and remove something will they know?  Will they question you?  Will they be mad?  So how do we get our kids to purge their toys THEMSELVES?  Here are a couple of things I have found that work for me and my kiddos.

1- Just ask:  Simply explaining to a child the situation often works wonders.  Tell them that you’re interested in making more room in the playroom so they can really spread out and play with their favorite toy.  Tell them that you’re moving and you just simply can’t take everything with you.  Sometimes there are toys that your child will happily get rid of when asked.  But, beware…often these toys are the ones that WE OURSELVES as mother’s are keeping.  Maybe because they were an expensive toy or the toy is sentimental TO US.  So…just be ready for that.

2- Strategic timing:   Right before  a child’s birthday or Christmas is a great time for a toy purge.  They know they are going to get new things and often the anticipation of bringing something new into the space is enough to encourage them to “make room” for the new.  If you have an organized toy space such as a set number of bins or a specific shelf then it is easy for a child to see that the shelf or bin is full and room must be made before anything is brought into the space.

3- Trading:  Speaking of strategic timing…maybe you’d like to do a trade with your child.  They received 6 toys for Christmas and so they need to come up with 6 toys to leave their space.  Isn’t this what we do in our closet when we run out of hangers and space…time to replace these two tshirts or this pair of jeans.  One in….one out.  You can also bag all the new things up and show your child the huge bag…in return they must fill a large bag that needs to come out of their play space.

4- Selling and Swapping:  When we have things of value it is often hard for us to part with them just for the sake of parting with them.  Your children are no different.  So…make an offer.  Offer to have a yardsale where the children can keep the profit from selling their toys.  Offer to buy them from them…it doesn’t have to be much.  $10 for a huge bag of toys leaving your kids space might be money well spent.  Help an older child sell their toys on ebay or craigslist.  I have started a local facebook swap group where we swap things we no longer need or love.  Consider seeing if someone has something your child might like to swap.  Find a way for it to be rewarding for your child as well.

The more often you encourage this behavior the more your child will consider it a normal part of life.  Make it a point to include them in times that you are purging and clearing out.  It is a teaching moment.  They will do as they see.   I hope these are some helpful tips in how to encourage your children to purge their belongings.  Thanks for the question…keep them coming!