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Toy Purge/Organization

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

Let's talk toys.

Toys are really fun tools! They have great capacity for creating fun moments and also doing really important physical, emotional, and social work.

I'm sure if you are a parent you've heard the quote:

"Play is the work of a child"

This is a daily mantra in our home. So much so that after a few hours of really imaginative play, I am very quick to throw the invisible confetti as I encourage "WOW! I am so proud of your hard work! You let your brain and body come up with some really important play today"

With that being said, we are not a wood only, neutral colored toy family. Bring on the colorful plastic! We are however, as much as possible, an open ended play family that make the kids do the playing. (ex: toys with batteries are usually not ones that stay in our home. There are a few exceptions.)

With this being said, as a person who can write 4 paragraphs on toys, as you could imagine, I have curated our toy collection quite intentionally. We get toys for Christmas and birthdays and that's about it. Even then it's very thoughtful. AND YET....

I looked up a few weeks ago and got utterly disgusted by the amount of toys in our home.

Utter surplus.

So a toy purge begun, it took all week and has already made a HUGE difference. Here's what we did:

We used the boundary method.

I learned this from The Minimal Mom (great YouTube content by the way!). In short, you set the basket or bin and then that container tells you how much you can have. Instead of going by a set number of toys, I told myself, this is the vehicle box, once it's full, no more.

We went category by category.

To not be overwhelmed we got our container and then went category by category. (As seen in pictures below.) We went on a scavenger hunt around the house and gathered every toy of that category and brought it to the living room so we could sort from there.


  1. Blocks/magnatiles

  2. Vehicles

  3. Sets

  4. Stuffed animals

  5. Costumes

  6. Musical instruments

  7. Kitchen

  8. Plastic animals

  9. Characters

  10. Tools ( adventure/construction)

  11. Books

  12. Table Activities

25% were left out

Main toys are left out for kid access. This is mainly our play closet under our stairs. Maybe one day we'll make this cute but for now it's very functional.

25% were put into rotation

Toy sets are placed into rotation, we have four cube unit boxes kept at the top of a closet, where kids don't have access to them without asking. Also our activity shelf holds puzzles, board games, kinetic sand and play dough. These are also high so they have to request it. This helps tremendously with messes. I act as a "toy librarian" of sort. They check out items with me one at a time.

50% were given away

The kids and I both were so proud of our donation pile! It feels great!

TWO TIPS that really helped!

  1. Missing Pieces Bin. I had a large basket at the beginning that was "missing pieces" bin. As we were decluttering and random pieces were found they went in the bin. The delight it gave me when I finally found all 12 of the Melissa and Doug cookies is a bit embarrassing. We haven't had a full tray in over a year 😅.

  2. Time will Tell Bag. This bag ended up with 8 items. They were items they really didn't want to pass along (or I didn't because it was sentimental). So instead of being in the donate bin, it went in this bag. I'll set this aside for a month or two. If they aren't requested or played with by then we'll know we can pass them along.

I hope this helps give motivation and ideas!

Happy Toy Sifting,


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1 Comment

I’ve been doing a little toy purging around here (usually on days when my 5 year old is away, I’ll take about a bag full of stuff to donate that I dont think he will miss).

Every time, it’s honestly overwhelming the excess that we’ve accumulated, as well as the bewilderment that we have so much!

I love your tips for the rotation systems, storing them in the closet (hurray for less toys to be out and to clean up), as well as involving your kids in the process of getting rid of some- having them low the limits and letting them decide what they are want to keep.

Thqnks for the writeup! it is clear you are so intentional…

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