I Got Rid Of My Daughter's Toys, Here's Why...

The day I realized that my daughter had too many toys started with a trip to the grocery store.

She was sitting in the cart, singing and playing with a squishy shower pouf we were about to buy.

I stopped in the baking aisle to look at the pastry flour. Beside us hung a big stack of pink princess cups that are the perfect size for toddler girls. They were covered with flower decals and a picture of a princess.

She points at them. “Mom, can I have one? Pleeeease?” She asked me in the sweetest tone.

I was in the mom-zone totally focused on comparing pastry flour prices.

“Huh?” I respond. Why is she asking for something in the baking aisle? Then I see the kids cups hung randomly in the aisle (must be a promotion or to hook suckers like me). “Oh. Uh no hunny. We don’t need that.” I tell her.

The cups were a cheap plastic. They were totally overpriced. And the last thing I/we need is another plastic container to add to the stack already in the cupboard.

“BUT I WANT IT!!” She snaps back at me.

I was surprised by her tone. It caught me off guard. Why did she want this container so bad? And why was she making such a fuss about it? We proceeded to argue about the cup and why she didn’t need it for the next few minutes. I was frustrated, annoyed and drained. And I gotta be honest with you, there was a moment where I almost gave in and bought the overpriced piece of plastic, just to have her stop whining about it.

But I didn’t. We ended the tantrum with a distraction over the squishy food pouches. “Which flavor do you want?” I asked her, hoping that this would forget about the stupid cups. Luckily, it worked.

Once we got home I put away the groceries, and continued on to some other homemaker tasks for the day. I started picking up toys around the house and while I did, I thought about that tantrum at the grocery store. For some reason this one really stuck with me. Perhaps it was because it felt a little out of character (a tantrum in the baking aisle? That’s never happened before…!!)

As I picked up her toys I thought about where they had come from. We buy a lot of her toys secondhand, so many of them came from trips to the thrift store with my daughter. Usually I would let her choose one toy before we left. They were cheap and it was an easier way to get out of the store tantrum-free. Other toys came with visits from grandma and grandpa. Some were from Christmas, Birthdays, Easter.

But at three years old, all of those toys were starting to add up.

I stood in her room and looked around. She had A LOT of toys in there. It felt overwhelming. My kid is three years old - does she really need this much stuff? So I grabbed a laundry basket and started grabbing the things that needed to go.

Starting The Process Without Her.

In order to begin decluttering her toys I knew I had to do it alone. So I distracted my daughter with an art project at the kitchen table. I gave her some paints, stickers and paper. She was happy for over an hour and drew several pictures of penguins, yellow birds and pickles (yes, she’s a big pickle fan). This art project gave me plenty of time to start decluttering her room.

Here’s What I Did:

  • First, I rounded up any toys that were broken or missing too many pieces to be played with. The broken things went in the recycling or garbage if they couldn’t be donated.

  • Next, I grabbed the toys that my daughter had outgrown. These were things she didn’t really play with anymore. I added these to a thrift store donation box. (Note: I put the box in a place that my daughter couldn’t see to avoid any future freak-outs).

  • There were a few toys that were a little more expensive, but had also outgrown - I decided to list those on my local buy and sell.

  • Lastly, I went through the rest of the stuff in her room: books, clothes, coloring books, and knick knacks.


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When all was said and done, the decluttering process felt really good. I was expecting my daughter to notice the toys that were gone - and I was prepared for the meltdown that would result.

But do you know what? An hour after I started the big toy purge, my daughter came in and was happy to see that her room was clean. She went straight for her toy bin and saw a bunch of toys that she hadn’t played with in awhile. So like a true toddler, she went straight for them and got to playing.

While I watched her I realized that that (duh!) the clutter had been overwhelming for her too.

It was stopping her from enjoying her toys.There were too many choices and she didn’t know what to actually play with.

Over the next week I expected her to ask where certain toys were, but she didn’t. I was so happy/relieved with the whole process. She had less stuff in her room, and she was playing by herself more! She was using her imagination and using toys that she hadn’t touched before. I felt like I had cracked the biggest secret to being a supermom ever!

Establishing Family Rules

The decluttering process felt great. But I also knew it wouldn’t last unless we made a few changes. This isn’t my first decluttering rodeo. I knew that there was a root of the problem we also had to solve - and that was bringing the toys into the house in the first place.

These toys weren’t magically appearing by themselves. I had to accept that as her parent, I was part of the problem. I was giving in and buying her things when she didn’t need them. I was letting grandma and grandpa bring gifts any time they came to visit. I wasn’t setting boundaries for Christmas or birthday gifts. And all of these things were adding up to one big pile of stuff.

This had to change, otherwise we would have the same clutter problem 6 months from now.

So together as a family, we laid the ground rules for her toys. First, I went around and grouped all the toys into different piles. We had dolls, stuffed animals, music toys, sports toys, crafts, books, and bath toys.

Then, I told my daughter that we had too many toys and and we didn’t need so many. We went around to each pile and picked 4 or 5 items to keep. She was a big part of the process.

After that we decided to make the rule of only 3-5 toys in each category. And if we we’re bringing a new toy in, then another one has to go out.

Enjoying Moments More Than Things

This family rule began to spread into the rest of our home and was crucial in our decluttering success. We did the same thing for our wardrobes, kitchen items, sports equipment, camping stuff. It changed how we looked at our purchases - it was easier to make the decision if we really needed something because we had to think about what would have to go if we decided to buy this item.

We decluttered our house.

We spent less money.

We felt less overwhelmed.

And we started to enjoy the moments more than the things.

Now, this rule is a big part of our family

Research shows that there is a direct link between self-esteem and materialism (1). The more stuff we consume, the emptier we feel.(2)

When we give too many things to our children we teach them to value these things more than experiences or relationships.

It isn’t easy to purge and declutter your kids toys. But it’s worth it. The process will teach them important values that they will carry through their entire lives. And it will help you too!



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How much do your kids really need? If you’re wondering if your kids have too much stuff, here are my tips plus the essentials for kids. We got rid of 74% of my kids toys following these simple steps. My kids are happier and so am I. Here’s the checklist I followed to get rid of the toys without feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the process.