Monday, 2 June 2014

The big toy declutter...

Recently I've been hearing a lot about the importance of "decluttering" and not having too many toys around at any one time. The reasoning behind this (very simply) is that if your toddler/child has access to too many different toys at the same time they can:
- become over-stimulated
- flit quickly from one activity to another without learning how to focus and fix attention
- struggle to develop the skills of learning to "play" properly with anything as there is too much choice

So last week I collected all of Doof's toys together and this is what I found...

Where did they all come from?!

Pretty obviously way too many! I'm not quite sure how we/he accumulated so many but he has and we were definitely finding that he tended to just play with the same 2-3 toys repeatedly - usually whatever was on top of the toy box pile - so a real waste when he had so many lovely toys and a bit repetitive for his development. So operation declutter began :)

First I laid out all the toys on the floor (as above) and separated them into groups - e.g. cars, puzzles, musical toys, items for pretend play etc. Any toys that were broken or had pieces missing went in the bin. Any toys that were too young for Doof were separated out into a pile and put aside for Doofling (there were, unsurprisingly, quite a large number in this pile!). Lastly I put a small number away for "travel" (pretend phone with noisy buttons, blow up ball, noisy keyboard, talking books).

From all the remaining "keeping" toys I separated them into 2 categories - "general toys for everyday" and  "box toys". The idea was that the "general toys" box would be out all the time whereas the "box toys" would be put out in rotation. The general box contained:
- click clack track
- etch a sketch
- wooden alphabet 
- push-pull elephant
- random small box

I then divided the "keeping" toys between 3 boxes with each box containing some: 
- building blocks
- jigsaw
- cars
- musical instruments
- animals for pretend play
- stacking cups/rings
- ball

Individual rotating boxes - toys divided between "frog", "lion" and "monkey" - with all the monkey ones laid out as an example of how many items are in each box

Lastly I tackled his books. Doofy loves his books and I didn't want to limit his access to these at all. However it was a similar story to his toys - he would read the same books over and over again, mainly because he forgot what ones he had, which was a shame. So I sorted his books in a similar way - one pile for general everyday use (went in the general box) and then 3 separate piles for each individual box. 
Three piles of books for the rotating boxes (back row) and then the 11 books for the general box (middle and front rows)
So there it is. 
Our new toy routine. 
Currently we have the general box and the "frog" box in use. In 2 weeks the frog will go away and the "lion" box will come out. So far Doof has not noticed that 2/3 of his toys have disappeared and he seems to actually be really enjoying the new smaller selection :)

Has anyone else done anything similar? How did it work for you?


  1. What a brilliant idea, I'm purchasing the ikea box shelving system tomorrow (Expedit) so I'm hoping to have a mass sort out too! All her books live in her bedroom now apart from six which we switch around weekly. X

  2. Thank you! I'm hoping this means Doof gets quality-play rather than quantity-play! Good luck with your sort out (we've got the Ikea expedit too... lol), sounds like you've got a good system with your books already :)