Emily Organized Toy Closet Drawers. Photo by Michiko Yoon.
Toddler Activities

Declutter with Toddler – Some First Steps

July 25, 2019

As anyone with a child knows, keeping on top of cleaning and organizing is a real challenge when toys and books are constantly getting scattered on the floor. My husband and I are getting ready to have another baby, so we are decluttering my daughter’s bedroom that she will share with her new sister.

I found that doing little bits of cleaning and organizing in chunks of time had the greatest impact. I have limited energy to tackle big cleaning projects, so slowly decluttering in stages was my best way of getting things done.

Below are a few steps to get you started in decluttering your home.

We filled a large bag of clothes for donation.

Step 1 – Separate into Piles Items for Donation and Keeping

Go through the closet and toy bins to separate out the clothes and toys that need to be donated.

Ask Yourself When Sorting for Donation:

  • Have we used this in a month? Two months?
  • Will it be better served with someone who will actually use it/love it more?
  • Do we have too many of this item?
  • Do we have enough space for it?

Most likely, you will find that it’s time to toss a lot of items that are taking up space in your child’s room. This can get tricky if you or your child are too emotional about it. Leave items that have sentimental value for last in sorting.

One tip I learned from other moms is to put several toys your child doesn’t play with in a box somewhere. If she doesn’t ask for the toys in the box in one month, you are free to donate the items.

GreenDrop picks up donations from your home and the proceeds go to the charity of your choice.

Great Places to Donate Used Clothing, Books, Toys, and More:

  • Your Local Charity – It’s a good opportunity to help out low-income neighbors in your community. Some recommended charities in Fairfax County are ECHO and Koinonia Foundation.
  • Your Local Library – In Fairfax, Virginia, most libraries have donation bins where you can donate books to the Friends of the Library.
  • Green Drop – select a charity to benefit (like American Red Cross) and Green Drop will donate proceeds to your chosen charity after picking up your items from your home.
  • Buy Nothing Facebook Group – join a local Buy Nothing group, post items online you would like to give away for free and people in your area will pick it up.
Emily Organized Toy Closet Drawers. Photo by Michiko Yoon.
Clear drawer chests make it easy to find what you need.

Step 2 – Get Organized with Drawers and Bins

We bought some great clear organizing drawer chests from The Container Store. I sorted Emily’s plastic food toys, stuffed animals and books into the different drawers. It’s nice because my daughter can see what is in all the bins and easily pull them out when she wants them.

Step 3 – Reduce Items You Buy or Accept as Gifts for Your Child

Going through the process of decluttering definitely removed my desire to buy more toys and stuffed animals for my daughter.

My husband and I asked relatives to not buy any gifts for Emily’s birthday this year. Instead, we took her on a trip to Baltimore’s National Aquarium because we knew she would love looking at all the sea animals.

We are trying to focus on giving experiences more than physical gifts because we know she will remember places we visit together more than the coolest toy we could buy.

We only gave my daughter a few small gifts that we knew she would enjoy, like a Moana Thermos cup, Moana doll, and Moana hooded towel. (She’s obsessed with the movie Moana right now and wants to hear the theme song 10 times a day.)

Emily watching a turtle at Baltimore's National Aquarium. Photo by Michiko Yoon.
Emily spotted a turtle at Baltimore’s National Aquarium.

Going through the process of getting rid of things we don’t need any more has made me more selective in gifts we buy for our daughter. We think twice now about buying bulky toys like a play kitchen or electronic set with noise and lights.

Children don’t need an excessive amount of toys and can use their imagination to play anywhere.

I remember getting the most joy from a cut-out house made from cardboard boxes that my dad put together when I was a child. Growing up, my siblings and I had a playroom full of Barbie dolls, Ninja Turtles, and My Little Pony sets, but the thing I remember loving the most was using my imagination with a cardboard box.

Going through the process of donating items and organizing my daughter’s room has reduced a lot of stress. It’s impossible for her room to be clean all the time, but now the amount of time picking up toys and books is manageable.

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