Clearing Out Clutter: The ‘Do You Use It’ Toy Challenge

If you’re like me you believe play is a huge part of a child’s ability to grow, learn, and prosper. So we have a lot of toys. It’s hard for me, as a mom who thinks everything holds sentimental value, to purge out the toy box from time to time. But every year my family does a ‘Do You Use It’ Toy Challenge- where we attempt to get rid of everything that isn’t being played with.

Let child choose which toys they’d like to get rid of.
First things first, I let my child decide what toys they want to get rid of. As kids grow they often go through a ‘this is for babies’ phase- where specific toys just aren’t worth keeping any more. We donate our toys to families in need through religious foundations, orphanage / foster care donations, and family shelters. My children are always made aware of the fact that their toys will be going to kids who will love and treasure them.

Throw out all broken / worn toys.
Don’t save that toy that you think you’ll fix someday. Don’t save the doll who’s had her left arm missing for at least 3 months now (and we’re fairly sure it’s never going to be found). Toys that are too dirty to ever be clean again, missing parts, or are somehow broken are probably ready to be put in the trash.

Keep all sentimental toys.
Yes- it is totally fine to keep sentimental toys. But be realistic about what ‘sentimental’ actually is. A toy that your child slept with for most of their childhood? Yes- that’s sentimental. But a race car that they trucked through the mud for one summer probably isn’t going to hold a ton of value compared to the 10 other race cars that they also played with.

Place all toys in bins outside of child’s room.
Once you’ve gone through all of the toys, place every single toy you’ve kept in a bin outside of the child’s room. Yes- every toy (except the sentimental ones that you are absolutely sure you want to keep).

As child uses toys they remove them from the bin and place them back where they keep them.
Explain to your child that they can take any toy they want from the bin if they are going to play with it. Then, if they play with that toy- they can put it back where it’s supposed to be stored in their room when they are finished. Then; let them play.

After three weeks all unused toys can be donated.
Once three weeks have gone by you will be able to look into the bin and see all of the toys your child has chosen not to touch. Some toys you may know your child will want to play with in the future- those can be taken out. Some toys may also be better suited for a sibling- those toys can also be taken out. Everything left in the bin can be donated, as it isn’t being used.