Boy, can toys feel like the enemy, can’t they? It seems like we’re either clearing them off our desks, stepping on them as we make our way to our office space or staring at them strewn around our living room as we try to work.

But with a little effort, we can learn to love and appreciate them as much as our children do.

Here are a few tricks to keep your toy mountain tamed:

Start by talking to your kids about the power of donating. We all know that it is better to give than receive and to help out where we can. Explaining to your kids that not all children can afford toys, usually opens them up to the idea of donation. Of course, donate is the key word here. When toys are broke or unrepairable, don’t hesitate to throw them out.

Here’s what to consider when making donation decisions:

  • Involve your children every step of the way
  • Have them make the choices on what stays and what goes
  • Put all toys out on display; pile like with like
  • Go through each pile and make decisions
  • Ask them questions, like: “How often do you play with this? Do you like this toy? Can you reduce the number of _______________ you have?”
  • Remind them how much easier it will be to find the toys they like now
  • Have patience and take your time

When they have decided on which playthings to donate, I suggest you box or bag them up. Keep them for approximately three months. If they ask for a certain toy, you can return that toy to them and donate the rest of the toys to a local shelter or charity.

You should get into the habit of going through this process once a quarter.

What else can you do?

Once you’ve gone through that process, here are four more steps you can take:

  1. Only have a certain number of toys out at a time: If there are too many toys available, a child feels overstimulated; making it hard to have fun. In a playroom, have seven to 10 toys (per child) to choose from. Pack up the toys you do not have out for them, as you will rotate them out every three-four months; helping them stay stimulated with their current (but new to them at that moment) toys.
  2. New toys come as gifts for holidays and birthdays: This will reduce the times your children beg for a new toy when out shopping. Additionally, kids thrive on routine, and this tells them when to exactly expect new toys.
  3. Have a playtime routine that accounts for an easy clean-up: Encourage your children to take one toy out at a time. When finished with that toy, they put it back and get a new toy; cleaning as they play. Make sure to build in a time block for cleaning up any final toys. Give your children a 15-minute reminder before then so they know it is coming. Kids love to know what is happening next and make transitions easier when they do.
  4. Have a home for each toy: If you use bins, label bin with words and pictures of that item. This will teach all ages where toys belong and that things should have a spot for safe keeping. This also reduces stress at clean-up, as they know where their toys are meant to go.

I know it’s going to take some work, but take the time to implement these tips and tricks. You will not regret it the next time you’re NOT looking at Toy Mountain.