Do you declutter your child's toys without his or her knowledge? When I was a new mom, I swore up and down that I would
declutter my child's toys without his consent. And in some ways that worked well because with one child who was pretty young, I mostly controlled what came in and out of the house.
Flash forward a few years and another child later and I find myself picturing archeologists of the future standing over a dig at my house saying "What were these people thinking?" It seems like every occasion -- every grandparent visit, every meal in a chain restaurant, every birthday party and holiday and end-of-something event -- brings with it something small and plastic.
Too much stuff
In some ways I think we are one of the first generations of parents whose job is not only to provide for our kids, but to provide a wall against the influx of
. And trust me, I realize this is in many ways a "first world problem" -- we live in a time when we are really lucky that our kids have access to so many great things. And yet, Saturday afternoons when I am surveying the nooks and crannies of my kids' rooms, it doesn't feel like such a luxury. It seems like there's a layer of toys that are played with once or twice and then kind of settle down at the bottom of the storage bins/drawers, staring up like fossils with beady little eyes. Here are three things we try at my house:
1. Decluttering together
One thing we try is to do a "thing fling" about once a month, where each member of the family lets go of the same number of items as their age. (So I give up or throw out 29, ah, 40-some items, and my 8 year old gives up 8, and so on.) I think that helps with the idea that decluttering is a regular part of life. But we do run into the problem quite often that for both kids, handling a toy means wanting the toy...even if I happen to know there are several more just like it, or it hasn't been played with in months.
2. The midnight decluttering elves
And so I have resorted to just clearing out some of my kids' toys in the dead of night, as it were. I know one intermediate idea is to put the toys in a closet or in the garage and wait to see if anyone asks for them, and if they don't within 6 months or so, to pass the box on then. That certainly helps avoid the issue of having decluttered a toy someone is now looking for, but for me it doesn't work very well because as soon as the lid on the box gets popped open it seems like the toys start to return. So sometimes toys vanish.
3. Stop the influx
I've also tried to limit the number of toys that come into the house, although from time to time I've resorted to
buying toys in lieu of fast food
. I'm not quite at the level of a "no-gifts-please" party or limiting grandparents to 4 gifts per year, but both have been tempting. Mostly we try not to shop for entertainment and manage our own behaviour, rather than ask friends and family to change theirs. Sometimes I've thought about asking other parents if they'd like to give up loot bags, but as my husband pointed out, it's really a short phase in our kids' lives. One thing I haven't mentioned here are fancy storage solutions. I'm all for that, but the fact is that ultimately the space we have is the space we have. How do you cope with your kid-related clutter?