Despite my vigilance in the toy department, my girls still have too many toys!
Here are some things I've done in the past to minimize the number of toys my kids have:
- Hide toys - I've done this a couple different ways, but the idea is that I hide toys that aren't played with regularly. Sometimes I offer to clean my kids' room for them and throw the lesser used toys in a garbage bag or box. Other times I sneak into their room when they are busy doing something else. I get the toys out of sight (without their knowledge) and put them out in the garage or other storage area. If the kids ask for something by name, I will gladly retrieve it from the box for them. After several months I either donate the entire box or we go through it together to see what's in there. If I let the kids look through the box, it's very likely some of the contents will end up back in their room!
- Shop for favorites - My girls LOVE stuffed animals. Their collection can get out of hand if we aren't careful. Frustrated with how many they had at one point, my husband and I set all their stuffed animals up in our room like it was a store. We had each girl come in and choose their top 3 favorites. Then they could choose 2 more. Then we gave them the opportunity to choose any other favorites they had. The rest got bagged up and put out of sight for a while (see above).
- One in - one out - Teach your kids that if they want a new game or toy, they must be willing to part with an old one to make room for the new one. Often we'll be in a store and a new animal will catch my girl's eye. When she asks if she can have it I ask her who she'll get rid of. Usually the subject is dropped because she doesn't want to part with any of her old friends. This is an area where the power of demonstration will go a long way. If you want your kids to learn how to do this, you can show them how you are willing to also follow this rule! Set a good example.
- Give your children experiences rather than toys as gifts - My girls love to go to the zoo, science museum, aquarium and children's museum. We don't have memberships at any of those places, so a trip to one of them is a special gift.
- Have a yard sale - My girls are highly motivated to declutter if money is involved. They love setting up a table in our driveway in the summer and selling their toys to other kids.
What else can you add to this list?