Top 10 Tips to Downsize the Toy Stash

by Jovanna Acevedo Quesada

Toy StashStuffed animals overflow the couch. Games with blinking lights shine as beacons at night. Even Elmo keeps laughing at you it seems.

You suspect that Santa, grandma and your own enthusiasm joined efforts and created a mound of blinking, singing, educational nonsense throughout your house.

What can you do to deal with the toy stash? The answer is "revealed" in these top ten tips.

1. Just Say "No"

If your work schedule is chaotic, if you're not able to spend as much time with the kids as you'd like, take a deep breath and tell that parent guilt to take a hike. Filling the time gap with a piece of plastic usually backfires and contributes to a mountain of clutter.

2. Organize

And this will help how? Trust us...once your child's toy stash is organized, you'll be better able to access the size of the pile, find each item, and realistically set reasonable limits.

3. Donate

Despite the dozens of toy options they have to choose from, each child has his own personal favorites. Set those aside and create a big pile of stuff that hasn't been touched in months.

  • See if a nearby homeless shelter, women's safe house or emergency nursery could use your extras
  • Donate to your church and synagogue nursery
  • Ask your doctor and dentist if their offices need an infusion of new stuff to entertain smaller patients
  • Give the toys your child has outgrown to a neighbor with younger children.
  • Drop the excess off at the Salvation Army and other local thrift store

4. Rotate

Stashing away a third or a half of your current toy collection reduces clutter and creates "brand new" toys when you pull them out a few weeks later. Babies gravitate toward the "new" items and older children enjoy getting reacquainted with old favorites they haven't seen them in a month or so.

5. Swap

Every notice that the toy your child really wants belongs to another kid. The next time you and your friends get together with your munchkins, have everyone bring five toys to swap. Each child can go home with a few new toys and the leftovers can be donated.

6. Store Them

Once your baby becomes an on-the-go toddler, might realize that your house full of baby toys aren’t really appropriate for your child anymore. Are more babies in your plan? Pack your favorites and store them. All of the toys that your child could care less about now will seem like the best thing ever to a new baby.

7. Recycle and Reuse

If you wouldn't let your kid play with it, then that three-legged playful pup and well-chewed plastic bead string should be sent to the big toy store in the sky. For the pile with lots of love and possibility:

Freecycle/Freegle: Offer toys and games that have life left on your local group. Someone might be grateful to have them whatever the condition, especially if they’re going to be playing with similar destructive kids.

Re-purpose: Salvage items for the craft box -- game markers, money, play set scenery. Use these to decorate noteboook covers, picture frame and decoupage projects.

8. Sell the Toys

Consignment shops are all the rage whether you're buying or selling. Enjoy making some cash from your child's ignored or outgrown toys. Your sorting, washing and pricing might not result in fists full of money, but your efforts will get rid of excess toys.

9. Offer Direction

Does the mind-boggling array of toys have your preschooler's head spinning? Ask grandparents, aunt and uncles to add to existing themes -- arts and craft like water paint, brushes, construction paper, markers, easels, painting paper, Duplos, doll clothes...

10. Back to the Basics

Common, boring household items usually win the toddler attention war over flashy new gadgets. Babies and toddlers love to mimic grown-ups. Everyday items like telephones, measuring cups and old clothes because these items allow them to act like big people. And once your child is finished with that "toy," it can be delegated to the usual function and returned to its proper location.

How did you deal with your mound this holiday season?

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