Purging The Toys

Purging The Toys - How to stop re-organizing the toys and start PURGING.
Toy clutter is one of the largest problems I get asked about:

  • How do I declutter toys??
  • What do I do with craft projects?
  • My child hoards weird things like junk mail and wrapping paper, what can I do?
  • What do I do with all these misc. pieces??

When you are organizing a child’s room, streamline as much as possible; the easier it is to do, the more likely the kids are to do it.

  • If you have a playroom in your home, avoid having toys in the children’s bedrooms. If they have personal toys, that aren’t for sharing, then keep them in separate clear containers in the closet or on a shelf. If you can keep the bedroom to sleeping and dressing, then it’s much much easier for the room to stay clean.
  • If you do not have a playroom- then keep all the toys in one central location- Don’t have them spread throughout the house. if they are in the living room, then all the toys should in the living room. If they are in the bedroom, then there shouldn’t be toys anywhere else in the house. This keeps everything contained and manageable in the minds of children.

Just imagine– would you have your kitchen stuff in different areas of the house? Mixing bowls in the family room? Silverware in the bedroom? Of course not- it makes no sense. It’s the same for children. Having their belongings spread throughout the house, makes it difficult to chunk down what they are supposed to do- if mom says “Clean up your toys before dinner.” In their mind, they have to clean the entire house- because there are toys in the bathroom, kitchen, livingroom, bedroom- and that is overwhelming.

  • Kids are more likely to put things away if they are a manageable size- if you have a lego bin that is heavy and takes work to put it away, it’s likely to stay on the floor and get dumped out. So make sure that any containers you have to store toys are easy for the children to take down and put away again on their own. Even if your children are older, the easier it is to accomplish the task, the more likely it is that it will get done.

Limit the toys and games to a very minimal amount. Don’t worry- you are not depriving your children. Really, you are giving them freedom; when you have a kitchen set- if you have 100 pieces of fake food and dishes, they’re probably scattered all over the house and rarely played with, but when you have 2 plates and 2 forks the children are much more likely to play with it and pretend. Because now their imagination has no limits. Before they had to pick from 100 different food items and now, they can just pretend whatever comes to mind. Remember the movie “Hook”, when they sit down at the table to eat? Kids can imagine anything! When we give them too many toys, it puts their imagination into very limited margins. This doesn’t mean we’re going to take all the toys away- it means they’ll have less physical toys, but more imagination.

First, know your why

Before you begin purging the toys, you need to know why you are doing it and think of that reason as you are working through the sorting and decluttering process. Otherwise, you’ll come across a toy that you know wasn’t cheap or has some significant meaning and you’ll talk yourself into keeping it, even though you know it doesn’t get played with.
Several why’s: 

  • I want to give them the gift of less.
  • I want a harmonious home (none of this constant fighting over who needs to pick up)
  • I want to give my children to be more creative

You need to know what your why is. Here’s something to get you moving…
Allie Casazza shares:

When there are less toys and less clutter, kids play more together and their imaginations can really be put to work. If your kids only had toys that fostered imagination and creative play, they’d spend a whole lot more time outdoors too!

I suggest only keeping things that promote creative thinking [these are also toys that you won’t mind adding more of to your collection, since your child can keep adding on to their building collection, and these toys make great gifts from grandparents]. This is a good place to start because you’re not getting rid of everything, but it gives you a strict guideline in your purging and you end up with much less than you currently have.
There are three simple questions you can ask yourself as you purge your kids’ toys:

  1. Is this toy adding to my child’s life and time in a positive way?
  2. Is this toy played with every day?
  3. Is this toy valued and looked for when it’s missing?

If you answer no to any of these, consider donating the toy.
There are a few types of toys you can definitely purge:

  • All the random toys
    • Happy Meal toys
    • Broken toys
  • Old toys that are no longer played with
  • Toys you want your child to play with, but they don’t
  • Big toys that take up room
  • Anything and everything you answer “no” to when you ask the 3 key questions

And remember the questions:

  1. Is this toy adding to my child’s life and time in a positive way?
  2. Is this toy played with every day?
  3. Is this toy valued and looked for when it’s missing?


About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Lindsay Colley on 04/19/2016 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for this post and the reminder to purge my toys. I’ve done this once already and you’ve renewed my energy to do it again tonight after work. I find it such a struggle – with three little boys at home (aged 1.5, 1.5 and 4), I hesitate to get rid of toys because otherwise their resourceful selves come up with very creative (aka dangerous) ways to play, ha ha ha. Will let you know how it goes!

  2. Sarah Jo on 05/20/2016 at 11:00 am

    What are your thoughts about rotating toys? We homeschool so we are home a lot. It seems like there are times when toys get played with all day long and other times they don’t play with a single toy all day. I rotate building toys (Magnatiles, Duplos, Legos) and big toys (play kitchen, Bruder trucks, Matchbox cars and mat) and throw out random toys from happy meals, birthday parties (the worst!), and well-meaning grandparents!
    I am a toy snob and have bought my fair share of duds over the years, even with my picky standards! There are a few things I am holding on to since we have four boys, one who’s only 3 months, but we are adopting a books only gift policy next Christmas!

    • Rachel on 05/20/2016 at 12:42 pm

      We rotate our sets as well, we have 5 different sets- Lego, Duplo, Bionicle, Wooden blocks and a castle set. We rotate at random. 🙂

  3. Virginia on 07/05/2016 at 4:25 pm

    Hello, we have 3 children ages 3, 5 & 6 & just got rid of 75% of their toys. I included them in a lot of the decision making, but we were moving so also took advantage of the packing and knowing they’d forget about some things to quietly dispose of things I knew they didn’t need. Sure enough, it’s been weeks and nothing has been missed. Now onto the hard part and my question…how do you convince children to part with larger items? My children have a very nice wooden doll house & barn that they never play with. We live in 750 sqft & all 3 of them share a room so as you can imagine, these items takw up a LOT of valuable floor space. I have tried convincing them to put it up for awhile and we did for about 2 months but then they wanted it back again, played with them for 2 weeks and now they sit. I can’t understand the attachment. I don’t want to just take them away but I’m not sure what to do. It seems like such a large burden for them to hold onto them. Any advice appreciated!

    • Rachel on 07/06/2016 at 12:13 pm

      I negotiate a trade for larger items. We had a rocking horse that was similar and I watched for something they wanted and stated that we would get it, but they would have to trade the large item for it. Of course, said item would have to be smaller and something I knew they would use/enjoy.
      I recently did it again with a couple boxes that had been set aside in the garage- the kids wanted scooters and we went to the store and looked at them. I told them I would buy them, if I could get rid of the 2 of the boxes in the garage, specifying that they couldn’t look in the boxes/remove things (they hadn’t looked or asked for the stuff since we packed it away). So, they got scooters and also didn’t complain about *me* getting rid of their stuff, because, after all, they made the decision.

    • Kerri M on 07/08/2016 at 5:30 pm

      Something that we have done because we are small on space as well. Would your kids be up to lending it to friends of theirs (doing a toy trade) With a family that has more room to store it/play with? My kids are 4 years apart and I find it hard to hold onto things for that 4 years until the little one is ready to use it so I have often lent it out to friends who have kids in-between our kids age.

  4. itzybellababy on 07/09/2016 at 4:35 pm

    This was fate to see this pop up in my Facebook feed. I was literally complaining to my fb that I put up a stuffed animal hammock and it barely put a dent in the pile.
    It is time to purge for sure!

  5. Kate on 01/27/2018 at 2:03 pm

    I’m cutting back on toys, but I’m finding it is actually much better for me to put small amounts throughout the house. My 3 year old doesn’t want to go down to the basement while I fold laundry on the 3rd floor, but he will go play toys in his bedroom up there while I work so long as he can see me. Having small amounts in various locations is actually making pickup easier since there are only so many types of items in each location.

  6. Terri on 06/16/2018 at 2:39 am

    I brought my granddaughter paints and summer dresses for her birthday. She noticed that she didn’t get typical toys. I explained she was going to get toys from her friends at her kid party. Did not have the cool factor in the moment but she loves painting and they will be used when the flash of plastic is over. Summer dresses are the next size and will be worn… and she is a dress girl. My daughter doesn’t have room in her house for a ton of toys. I am working at not adding to the clutter and have put my money into summer camps instead. We will create memories and art.

    • Meagan on 03/28/2021 at 4:45 am

      That is so thoughtful! Summer camp especially. (Can you give my parents and in-laws tips?)

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