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Simple Saturday: The Toy Clean Out

I cleared out the play room last weekend, and have been watching the kids at play in their space since. The pleasure they have had in their space has been amazing to me, yet not surprising. I know that getting rid of excess always feels good for most people, and my kids are no different from me on that attribute.

It was necessary that something drastic change in their room to make space for the refurbished kitchen set my dad made when I was little. I wanted the set in there partly because it’s is a beautiful (if ragged after years of play) handmade wooden kitchen that their Grandad created. I have wonderful memories of feasts and fantasies passing through that kitchen while my sister and I played. Additionally I wanted it available so that the Little Bugs could have access to some of that deep, creative play that happen with such a toy.

So I seized the opportunity. The kitchen set was almost ready – after many years of storage it needed some touch ups. The kids went over to my mom’s house to help her finish and I tackled their toys.

It was not as big a job as I had anticipated. It was reassuring to know that we have done a good job of keeping a low-ish number of toys coming in the house. But still.

I used the Simplicity Parenting guidelines for clearing space – as I could remember them in the moment of cleaning. I altered them somewhat to fit best with my family’s needs and desires.

I got rid of…

Part of the thrift store donation.

Duplicates – when we had two VW bug toys, two memory games, eight stuffed bears, and so on.

Broken toys – trucks missing tires, dolls missing heads, etcetera.

Random Gimcracks – fake teeth from the doctor, extra bouncy balls from a quarter machine, little animal shaped erasers from a past Easter party… You know what little stuff I’m talking about.

Stuff No One Plays With – a set of army men that had never left the box, some of those eight stuffed bears, a set of jacks, and more.

Of course, this is only a partial list.

I kept new Birthday Presents and all the ‘Cars’ toys. I kept one noise-toy per kid – a special digger from Brother-Bug’s God Mommies and a set of musical flowers that Sister-Bug adores.

The feeling in their room was palpable after I moved the mountain of stuff out to the car. Even though most of the toy storage us not in sight as you walk in the kids room, we could feel the difference as we entered.

All told we took about 5-6 grocery bags and one large trash bag of stuff out. This was probably around a third of the toys. The trash was trashed. The usable items I took immediately to the thrift store, so no little people saw what I was getting rid of.

When the kids got home, I steeled my nerves for sadness. After all, there were a lot less toys than they were used to. But neither has fussed at all, and the available toys are getting a lot more action. Their room is easier to clean up as well.

This has inspired me (and Papa-Bug) to strike at much of our own stuff and to tackle the present giving and receiving issue. The Holidays are just around the corner and I would hate to have all my clearing work undone by well-intentioned relatives.

Finally, I thought long an hard about including Brother-Bug in the process, but I’m glad I didn’t. It would have been hard for both of us – he would have wanted to keep all the little bits of detritus that he doesn’t realize I threw away. Eventually I am sure he will inventory his vehicles and find many missing, but so it goes.Without his input, I had the freedom to make choices I knew would benefit him. We told him in advance what I was going to be doing, and there were a couple of toys that he told me were really special to him – I kept those to honor his input.

For now, I’m going to enjoy the increased calm in the play room, and the little boy enjoying rediscovered toys and the new kitchen set. And mark down a major win for Simplicity.


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