Toy clutter always seems like a hard thing to tackle when you are simplifying your belongings. Even if your kids are willing to give things up what do you do with them then? Bagging things up and getting them out of the living space is a great start but where do you do from there? Where do you actually donate these old toys to?
Make sure to grab a FREE copy of the Kids Clutter Bundle at the bottom of the post. It includes guides, checklists, and tips on tackling the big three in kids’ clutter; Toys, Paper, and Clothes.
Why are you getting rid of toys?
It’s important to have a clear picture of what you hope to accomplish before you start any project. Decide on your WHY first.
Overwhelm– Are you noticing that your kids are having trouble sticking with an activity?
Are they overwhelmed with too many options or are they behaving in a developmentally appropriate way?
Sometimes we adults forget that children aren’t meant to sit still for hours on end. It is totally normal for kids to move from activity to activity.
If you are noticing true overwhelm you will notice your children have an inability to pick anything to occupy themselves. They may complain of being bored even when they are surrounded by stuff.
Abundance – Are you hoping to get rid of toys because you simply have too many?
Is it too many visually or physically?
If the toys are being regularly played with then perhaps you could look at other ways of organizing, or even do a toy rotation before deciding to toss out toys that are getting regular play.
Visual Aesthetic- If you don’t have a dedicated play space, or live in a small home then perhaps it is just not practical to have a bunch of toys.
While toys can be wonderful for the development of your child you should not have to sacrifice the comfort of your home to make room for them.
Homes should be safe places for everyone to come and feel relaxed in. If the amount of toys prohibits this aesthetic then perhaps it’s time to rethink the organization and storage before you decide to toss anything.
No matter which scenario of the above you fall into the Toy Decluttering Guide included in the Kids Clutter Bundle can help you weed through the mess and get it under control!
Could you Organize the Toys Better?
Once you have found your why, use the toy decluttering checklist in combination with your end goal and go through the toys. I would suggest working with your child if they are old enough to understand. Losing your possessions can be hard, even if it’s necessary. It could be traumatic for your child to discover their possessions gone without being informed beforehand.
Where can you take your toy donations?
Electronic Toys – Donate or recycle?
Depending on the type of “toy” you may be able to recycle or donate them. My children always played with our old cell phones when they were little. However, once they outgrew this stage we found recycling programs to send them to. This could work for other electronics like ipads, fire tablets etc.
Video Games, if they are still in good condition could possibly be sold back to a game store. My husband, back in his gaming days used to trade in old games for store credit on new items.
What to Do with Collectables
My oldest cousin was a collector of toys, which was always strange to me because you couldn’t actually play with them. She was really into beanie babies and holiday barbies. Now, I doubt there is a market for beanie babies anymore but there might be for the barbies. Check out places like eBay, mercari, or even the Facebook marketplace and see if there is a market to recoup some money you may have spent on these toys.
Where to Sell & Donate High-End Toys
If you purchase high-end, name-brand toys, or even popular handmade toys you can always check to see if they have re-sell groups. One of the things I love most about buying high-quality toys is that there are usually other families who value these toys as well. If it ends up being something my kids don’t really love, or they grow out of there is probably another family who is willing to pay for it.
A few examples of toys that I have either purchased second-hand or resold are American Girl Dolls, Slumberkins stuffed animals and handmade wooden dolls.
Where to Donate Toys in Great Shape
Great or Good Condition toys that are still popular and in-demand can be sold at specialized resale stores as well. We’ve sold and purchased big-ticket items like baby bouncers, ride-on toys, and figurines at our local Once Upon a Child.
Now if you have items that are still in good shape but can’t be sold you can of course donate them. Everyone always thinks of the big thrift shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army but there are lots of other places that you could send your toys.
- My daughter’s daycare took a ton of our plastic toys when we moved to more open-ended play a few years ago. So I would check with any local daycares or nurseries to see if they have a need for anything you might be getting rid of.
- Religious Organizations – Churches with childcare are also a great place to check.
- Women and children shelters for domestic violence survivors – These homes and shelters are often overlooked but call around and see if they have any specific needs. I vividly remember my mother donating her clothing to the women’s home in my hometown when I was a child. It opened up some of those hard-to-have conversations and taught me to be thankful for the blessings in my own life.
- Homeless Shelters
- Check with family members to see if they might like the toys. I often trade unused toys with my sister-in-law before tossing them. Our children are in similar age categories so it works well. When we did our huge purge I also sent toys to my parent’s homes for the kids to be able to have when they visited. Anywhere you can send the toys that might help prevent more consumerism is a bonus.
- Sometimes you may have new toys you are getting rid of for one reason or another. If you can’t return or resell them think about donating them to a Children’s Hospitals or Clinics. I have a collection area in my garage where I hideaway gifts that I know will never be used and take them to our local children’s hospital every six months or so.
- Ronald McDonald House – We were fortunate enough to never need to use the RMH when our oldest was going through her chemo treatments but it was such a wonderful place for many of our fellow cancer families to stay. You are able to have siblings and parents stay close to the hospital when their loved ones are in need of hospitalization.
- There are also companies like Joy Jars that take donations to create age-appropriate toy boxes for hospitalized children.
- Hospice Homes – When my grandfather was dying he was put in a Hospice House. They had received a big donation of toys and were giving them to the children who were visiting loved ones. I thought this was the sweetest thing to bring a little bit of happiness to kids who were having to go through something very big.
Community Centers or Departments within your community –
- Check with any of the charitable organizations or local organizations that help the community. Check with the Fire Department or Police Department or even the YMCA and see if they are currently running or sponsoring a toy drive.
- Check with your local VA to see if any military families have any specific needs. My grandfather was in the navy and my mom always complained about how they had to get rid of their things every time they moved overseas.
- Do you have any organizations that help provide resources to foster families or any other type of needy families?
Maintain your Clutter-Free Toys Space
Once you have gotten rid of whatever you are trying to get rid of you have to remember to maintain. Talking with your kids about clutter, teaching them the difference between needs and wants, and helping them to understand consumerism and commercialism are so important. You don’t want to keep repeating the cycle of buying and getting rid of things over and over.
It’s also important to have these conversations with the people who are buying the toys. My husband was always getting the kids cheap little grocery store toys when he went grocery shopping with them. We had a conversation about how this was not aligning with our goals of consumerism and minimalism and he stopped.
Grandparents are always a tricky group to talk to about this. My oldest is seven and I still have conversations with both sets of grandparents about not constantly buying things for all my kids. I purge baby dolls every few months because neither grandmother listens when I tell them we already have too many.
My course Toy Taming Taskforce helps address these difficult conversations and gives advice on what to do if your requests are NOT followed or respected! Find out more about Toy Taming Taskforce Here.
As important as it is to try and get your message across, it’s not as important as maintaining relationships when your loved ones. If the grandparents just don’t get it then that’s just how it’s going to be. Remember that you can only control yourself, you cannot control what other people do with their time and money. Be gracious, teach your children to be gracious, and once the item is in your possession you can decide what to do with it.
Hopefully, you have a better idea of where to send your unwanted toys so grab your Toy Clutter Guide below and get started!
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Kids Clutter Bundle Includes:
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- Kids Paper Clutter - Getting Organized
- Minimal Kids Wardrobe - Staples & Favorites
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