Dealing with Toy Overwhelm: 5 Ways to Downsize

Dealing with Toy Overwhelm: 5 Ways to Downsize

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Toy overwhelm: the feeling we get when our children have too many toys. One toy becomes two, two becomes ten, and after that is history! If you’re tired of stepping on legos and want to see your floor again, you’re in the right place; as a mother of two toddlers, I dealt with this for the first two years of their lives. Here’s what you need to know to deal with toy overwhelm and rock a stress-free home again.

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning to find your living room covered in toys. Or coming home at the end of a long day and not being able to open the door without breaking an action figure. Trust me when I say that there is such a thing as having too many toys. 

For the first two years of my daughter’s life, I tried to live each day surrounded by endless bins of toys. I felt that no matter how much I tidied and picked up the house, I couldn’t get it clean. It took me those entire two years to realize that it wasn’t my house that was the problem, it was the number of things in it.

I started doing research and getting into the mindset of decluttering. Allie Casazza was one of the first people that came up in Google search and inspired me to be who I am today. Honestly, without her amazing story and advice, I would probably be buried under a mountain of toys to this day.

This new lifestyle of living with less and purging the playroom inventory has decreased how often I’m stressed; it’s also grown my children’s attention span when playing.

If you’re feeling trapped in your own house and can’t seem to shake the feeling that there is simply too much, here are five ways to downsize and deal with toy overwhelm.


1. Recognize the Problem

The first step in fixing any problem is recognizing the issue. It’s okay if you’re thinking, “well duh Shaylynn, obviously the issue is too many toys.” I’ll give you that one! But what I’m wanting you to think about is what part of having too many toys is frustrating for you? Is it:

  • the number of toys
  • the location of the toys (i.e. no space for them or a dedicated room)
  • the size of the toys (i.e. too many little pieces or large toys taking up too much space)
  • the noise level of the toys

I know those may seem like really simple-minded things to think about, but they are really important in deciding how and what you are going to downsize.

Here’s an example. Back when I first started this process, I looked through our stash of toys and decided that I was stressed by the number and size of them. This told me two things:

A) I needed to decrease the number of toys we had

B) I needed to get rid of the small, insignificant things that weren’t being played with

I could now use those two ideas in moving forward with the next steps…easy, peasy right?


2. Trash Broken or Damaged Toys

This step really made me rethink my sanity a few times; I didn’t realize how many broken and damaged toys we had! Part of the reason I felt toy overwhelm is because half of them were broken and yet still taking up valuable space.

So go through your child’s toys and pick out any that are damaged, aren’t working anymore, or broken. I encourage you to get your child involved in this part if they are old enough to understand what is going on.

I wouldn’t recommend having your two or three-year-old toddler help out because let’s be real, they wouldn’t have it.

If your child is older, it is a valuable experience for them to learn how to downsize and get rid of invaluable things. There’s not a better life lesson out there, especially when it’s taught by mom.


3. Bye, Bye Cheap Toys

You know those plastic toys that come with your kid’s Happy Meal that end up tossed in one of the toy bins at home? Those would be considered cheap toys. And I’ll guarantee you have a little stash of em’ somewhere in your house; because what mom doesn’t go to McDonald’s anyways?

Hey, we have toys like that in our house, too. And some of them end up being the ones our kids play with the most! When I say get rid of any cheap toys, I’m not meaning cheap as in dollar value. I’m talking cheap as in having no emotional or play value to your child. 

These cheap toys are ones that don’t ever get played with because they are either too close-ended (toys that don’t allow for imagination) or don’t serve a good educational purpose. When I went through our toy bins I found things like cardboard cards that came from the Chick-Fil-A drive through and little plastic rings that had no purpose whatsoever.

There were other more purposeful toys we rid of simply because the only thing they did was make noise and repeat the same phrases over and over. This kind of toy I consider close-ended because it doesn’t leave any room for imagination! Toys like these don’t have to be trashed, but instead donated to your local thrift store or resold.


4. Get Organized

One of the best ways to combat toy overwhelm is by investing in an organization system. We ended up buying storage cube organizers and filling them up with see-through mesh storage bins.

Dealing with Toy Overwhelm: 5 Ways to Downsize

Having a set storage unit made us recognize when there were too many toys (overflowing bins) and gave us an idea of how much room we had to work with when getting new toys. The best thing is, when your toy area gets too full, you can always put away the unused toys in a tote and bring them back later when the current toys are no longer grabbing your children’s attention.

What I love the most about these storage cube organizers, is how versatile they are in function. As you can tell, we use ours for both toy storage and an entertainment center. Score!


5. Invest in Experiences, Not Things

I learned this piece of advice from Allie Casazza- seriously, if you haven’t checked out her website, you totally should! She is a mama looking to help others struggling with the chaos of motherhood.

Here’s the whole idea behind this advice: when you invest in experiences, you’re giving the gift of adventures, memories, educational experiences, and life-lessons. And investing in experiences means not adding to the amount of “things” inside the home but instead adding something to the heart.

So after you’ve done all of your toy purging, decluttering, and organizing, you can avoid future toy overwhelm by remembering that motto. It’s much easier said than done, trust me! I’m one of those parents that love to see their child open lots of gifts on holidays and birthdays. What parent doesn’t?

By doing simple things such as requesting no gifts for birthday parties or buying more books than toys, you won’t be adding to the amount of “things” that might stress you out later on! Take more trips, visit the library, buy passes to a water park- these are the type of gifts that will last forever.


So that’s it! Those are the five ways to downsize when dealing with too many toys. Feel free to share with a mommy friend who steps on too many dinosaurs and princess wands!

Here’s to no more toy overwhelm!