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Spring Cleaning: Tackling Toys

Look around you. They’re everywhere. Occupying every room of the house, taking over your personal space, creating noise and clutter.

No, I’m not talking about your kids. I’m talking about their toys. And if your house is anything like mine, you probably have a few that need to go away.

There are Hot Wheels in my living room. A cowboy hat in my bathroom. A LEGO set on my nightstand. And I’m not even going to tell you how many monster trucks and tiaras are in my kitchen.

But it’s Spring, my friends! The perfect time to purge the unnecessary, the broken, the forgotten, and the outgrown. You can trash the broken things, keep any that have special sentimental value, and donate the rest.

Sounds good, right? Ok. Let’s do this.


First, make sure you have a few kid-free hours. Oh, did you think this was a family activity? THINK AGAIN. There’s no way your kids are letting this happen if they’re home.

Here’s an easy place to start: a pile of papers. Mostly drawings of flowers and trucks and rainbows. Trash!

Oh but wait… This one has a heart and says “I LOVE MOM” in your daughter’s adorably uneven handwriting. Maybe this one should go in the Keep box.

NO! BE STRONG. Your kids will draw approximately eight-million hearts and rainbows over the course of their childhood and you cannot keep all of them. Trash!


Ugh. That horrible thing with the obnoxious sounds that go off all the time. You hated it. Your kids haven’t played with it in ages (thank goodness) so it won’t be missed. It still works so you think about tossing it in the Donate box, but that just means it’ll go to Goodwill where some other poor, unsuspecting parent will end up with it. Why would you do that to someone you don’t even know?! You wouldn’t. Trash.


Let’s see…
• Random pieces to a game long gone – Trash.
• A broken plastic car – Trash.

See? This is easy! Looks like you’re gonna have a lot of trash. Here. Let’s amend that list:


Moving on…
• Duplo blocks – outgrown – Donate.
• Plastic necklace – she has a ton of them so she doesn’t need this one – Donate.
• My Little Pony play set – …hmm. She never really played with it but she still loves the ponies. Would she miss it? Would she want it if she knew it was on the chopping block? Should you make her play with it to see if she likes it? But then she might want to keep it and that is NOT the point of this exercise. Ugh. Just put that aside and deal with it later.

Ok. A truck. And another truck. And another slightly different truck. Does he really need 78 trucks? He won’t miss a few of them. Or will he? Maybe some have special meaning to him. Which one is his favorite? What if the wrong one gets donated and he’s really upset when he misses it? Will he ever trust you again??

Fine. Keep all the trucks and keep going.

• Stuffed animals – outgrown – Donate. Ew, this one little stuffed kitten is filthy! Trash.

Hang on, though. That’s not just any stuffed kitten. That’s Mr. Whiskers. It looks filthy because she carried that thing everywhere. It’s been dragged through the house and through the yard and it’s been washed a million times so it’s definitely seen better days. But Mr. Whiskers was an important part of her toddlerhood. You can’t part with that! Keep.

Wow. This is kind of stressful and emotional. Maybe we should amend that list again:


Pour yourself a glass. Maybe it’ll make those tough decisions a little easier. Wine is known for helping people make great decisions, right? (Don’t judge me, Mr. Whiskers.)

Back to the sorting.

• Board books that have been chewed to a pulp by teething toddlers – Trash.
• Dried up Play-Doh – Trash.
• Broken crayons – Trash. No wait, keep! You’ve seen tutorials on Pinterest! You’ll be crafty and turn those broken crayons into beautiful works of art and STOP RIGHT THERE. DON’T KID YOURSELF. YOU WILL NEVER DO THAT. They’ll sit on your counter getting covered with random papers until you uncover them 6 months from now and wonder why on earth there’s a bag full of broken crayons in your kitchen. Do yourself a favor and toss them now. Trash.

A few more things in the trash bags. A few more things in the Donate box. And let’s be honest and admit you’re still thinking about that “I LOVE MOM” heart drawing. Go ahead. Dig it out of the trash and put it in the Keep box. I won’t tell anyone.

Stand back and survey your progress. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff! Your house already feels cleaner. Great job. You’ve accomplished a lot today.

Now PAY ATTENTION because this part is important: Get that junk out of the house now. If you don’t have time to make the trip to Goodwill right now, hide it in the attic. Or hide it in your closet. Or dig a hole in the backyard and bury it. I don’t care. But whatever you do, DON’T LET YOUR KIDS SEE IT OR ALL YOUR HARD WORK WILL HAVE BEEN FOR NOTHING because of course all those things are obviously their very favorite things and you can’t get rid of them and how could you and blah blah blah. Nope. Out of sight, out of mind.

Congratulations! You’ve put a serious dent in your unwanted toy situation. However, no matter how well you hide the evidence, your kids might eventually notice that some things are gone. Best to be prepared. Which brings me to one more important amendment to that list:


“Um… Your dad did it.”

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