How Getting Rid of Toys Made Us a Happier Family!

What kid doesn’t love toys?  And what parent doesn’t love making their kids happy? Unfortunately, there is such as thing as too much of a good thing.  Last year, we got rid of most of the kids’ toys, and it has made us a much happier family!  So, how did we do it, and why?  Keep reading!

It is possible for kids to have too much of a good thing. Find out how getting rid of toys made us a happier family! {}

Getting rid of toys made us a happier family. It’s true! (You can even ask my kids!)

RELATED: Space-Saving Easy Puzzle Storage, Decluttering Tips for Kids, Dress Up Storage Ideas for Kids

How’d we get into this mess in the first place?

I am a hoarder.  I admit it.  (Okay–not the reality show intervention type of hoarder, but I do like to collect things!)  I love to shop garage sales and get good deals, and when I find something the kids like, I (and they) tend to think that we need to collect lots of them.  (That picture below is just a fraction of the toys that used to be hanging out in our playroom!)

It is possible for kids to have too much of a good thing. Find out how getting rid of toys made us a happier family! {}

It’s my fault we got into this mess.  We just have too much stuff!  When the kids were younger, they liked Little People toys.  I used to find them at garage sales all the time, so eventually, we had quite a few sets. The same thing happened with Polly Pockets, then Littlest Pet Shops, then Teeny Tiny Pet Shops, then Squinkies . . . you get the idea! Since the kids ages span six years, it was tough to get rid of toys the oldest had out grown because the youngest was still playing with them.

So, what’s wrong with having tons of toys?

It is possible for kids to have too much of a good thing. Find out how getting rid of most of our toys made us a happier family! {}

Despite having tons of toys, they were actually very organized.  (You may see a post about that some day.) Every type of toy had its own clearly labeled space.  They were even picture labeled so that the youngest new exactly where to put her toys. We had all this stuff, but we were unhappy.  The kids were always arguing or in trouble. There came a day when I realized that most of the contention in our home centered around the toys.

  • Fighting over toys
  • Getting in trouble for not cleaning up the toys
  • Spending hours of prime play time cleaning up on the weekends
  • Dragging toys all over the house because there was no room to play in the playroom
  • Mom angry and frustrated because we were always in a mess

By the way, you haven’t lived until you’ve found every one of your organized toy bins dumped on the floor and mixed up.  If you have lots of toys, just invite a neighbor kid over to play.  Give them ten minutes, and it will happen!  It’s just so tempting to check out all of the toys!

What did we do about it?

One day, I decided I’d had enough.  We took all the toys from the playroom and piled them up. We took out all of the toy shelving except one storage shelf that holds 8 baskets.

It is possible for kids to have too much of a good thing. Find out how getting rid of most of our toys made us a happier family! {}

Absolutely ridiculous.  How can any kid be expected to manage that much stuff? It’s no wonder it was always a mess and that half the toys rarely saw the light of day.

What did we keep?

We decided that everything that went back into the playroom had to fit in one of the eight bins.  (That didn’t mean stuffing the bins full either.)  No more toys lining the walls. Together, we went through all the toys and removed toys that were not played with.  We found the missing pieces to everything, and put the toys that went together in bags.  Some toys went into storage to possibly switch out later, but the rest went to garage sales. We labeled the eight bins so that the kids knew where their toys belonged when they were not playing with them.

Do the kids miss the toys?

Not a bit!

Please don't pin this image.

Guess what?  The kids were excited to know exactly what they had and where it belonged in the playroom.  They knew that they could quickly find what they needed and quickly clean up!

It is possible for kids to have too much of a good thing. Find out how getting rid of most of our toys made us a happier family! {}

You know life is good when there is actually room to have a dance party in the playroom!

One year later

It’s been a year since we made this change.  Are we still happy about our decision?  Definitely!  The kids have recently gotten into Lego Friends, which take up a lot of space.  The kids agree that it’s time to get rid of toys again to make room.  Their idea!!!  They’ve learned that it’s not fun to have more stuff than they can take care of.

Two years later

Is it still working? Absolutely! Have we had to set limits on new toys? Definitely. With the girls’ love for Shopkins and Legos, I finally had to say, “No more!” Instead of getting new Legos, the girls will have to take apart what they have and put them together again. (Good thing we saved the instructions.) Here’s how we are managing the Legos: How I Tamed Our Lego Disaster, Make a DIY Lego Table in Minutes

It’s a work in progress! There’s always the temptation to buy too many toys again, but I think we’re balancing pretty well.

Is our playroom perfectly clean all the time?  Definitely not.  But we’re working on it!

Are there fewer arguments about toys?  Yes!

Do the kids have more time to play and less time to clean? Yep!

Are we all happier without so much stuff?  Yep!  Getting rid of toys made us a happier family.

If you haven’t already heard about my Spring De-Junk Challenge and Giveaway, check it out and give it a try!  I’m taking what we learned from the playroom and applying it to the rest of my home.  I have a long way to go, but I am so excited to spend less time taking care of junk and more time living life!

Need some more de-junking ideas?  All 11 bloggers involved in the Spring De-Junk Challenge are sharing ideas about Spring Cleaning and De-Junking today! Check out their links below!

I’m so glad you stopped by today! I hope you’ll join me in the challenge and get de-junking today!

Need more help keeping things clean?  Check out some of my favorite ideas.

Click on the images below to visit the posts. (Images are linked.)

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {} Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms? Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start. (Free Printable Reminder Cards)
Build your own storage lockers using the kreg jig! (Even beginniners can do it!)
Learn how to get kids to clean up with editable, printable Ten-Minute Tidy Charts! {} #cleaningtips #SharpieClearview #PMedia #ad




  1. Love this idea, I really struggle getting rid of toys!

  2. We so need to do this and we only have toys from one 2 year old girl! But she is the first grandbaby on my husband’s side of the family and mine in over 10 years so everyone spoils her. Her birthday was in February, and I actually had to put out a “No More Toys” announcement to all our family members- she still had unopened toys in boxes from Christmas!
    Of course, I think we would have to thin out the toy herd while she is sleeping. She honestly thinks she “needs” every toy that she owns right now, lol! ;)

    • My kids thought they needed everything, too, Carrie. When I limited how much space they could fill with toys, that’s when they started weeding. And once they’d done it–they got it. They realize now that life is more fun with less to take care of! Good luck getting rid of toys! It sounds like it will be a challenge.

      • philadelphia title company says

        I love her clock! And that collection.Somehow one of my friend who is a maker too and likes sci-fi too has the same name, except it's a dude, so I was confused.Yet another nice discovery, she's really creative.

  3. I have recently realized that we are in the same predicament with waaay too many toys. Both my husband and I are hoarders… eeek! My kids are terrible at cleaning up as they play (I’m sure it’s at least partially my fault for not insisting and teaching that when they were smaller), and so clean up is a huge ordeal that lasts far too long. I tried the toy rotation method last year and it just took too much time. I’m still weeding through our stuff but it’s amazing the difference that cutting down our toys has made. We now request gifts of time for our kids – taking the kids to the movie or museum passes instead of toys. We’ve made some great memories and I don’t trip over toys when I get up with the kids in the middle of the night. It’s worked out so much better for us. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Krista. Gifts of time sound like a great idea! I love to give birthday parties, but I hate to figure out how to handle all the new toys!

    • I think you might be a genius! I really want to start asking for “gifts of time” for my children! We do pretty good on keeping the toy clutter down. We had a play room until recently when my daughter was born. Now we have a nursery and my boys moved into the playroom, so even though it didn’t seem like much before…now all there play stuff is with all their other stuff. Therefore, I’m feeling the itch to declutter again. Actually, it’s on my to do list for the week. :)

  4. Great post! We recently got rid of some toys a few months ago and it was great! Seeing this just reminded me that we need to get rid of even more! We have enough toys for 10 kids(or more), the problem is that we only have 2 kids :) My family usually insists on bringing gifts for them on all occasions, so when they ask me what to get them I say books or a tshirt. I also like Krista’s idea of museum passes or movie tickets. :) Glad I’m not the only one who likes to have less toy clutter :)

    • I know just what you mean, Niki! We had enough toys for the whole neighborhood, and they whole neighborhood liked to get them out–all at once! Yikes! I think Krista’s idea would work well for us both!

  5. You are so right. Having raised 6 children in a small home I know all about ‘stuff’. Less really is more. Now the kids are gone and I have 16.5 grandchildren. Toys at Nana’s house include:
    -dress ups
    -wooden blocks
    -a 25 piece wooden farm puzzle
    -a couple of baby dolls and blankets
    This is really all they need toywise. I do have a craft room that is full of rubber stamps, paper, scissors etc. The older children have full reign of this room. They love it!
    Great post.

  6. Heidi, I think it’s amazing how much more enjoyable a clean & organized room is. You’ve worked so hard and your girls looks so happy in their new space! Well done! :)

  7. I’m stopping over from the Link Party Palooza. I’m impressed how organized you were before with all the toys! But we’re right there with you. Too many toys is just a pain. We’ve gotten our kids into “experience” gifts instead of toys. For example, for our 9-year-old son’s birthday (which is in January) one set of grandparents paid for our family of four to go snow tubing at a local ski park for the day. Or, the relatively will go-in together for season passes our local water park for the summer. The kids quickly figured out they’d rather have the experience and do not miss the toys!

    • Thanks, Jill. Unfortunately, all the organization in the world can’t keep the kids from dumping everything into the middle of the floor! Experience gifts sound like a great idea!

  8. Thanks, Jill. Unfortunately, all the organization in the world can’t keep the kids from dumping everything into the middle of the floor! Experience gifts sound like a great idea!

  9. Am I glad I found your article. We are going to have a yard sale in a few weeks and I am trying to organize my kids’ playroom. I feel the way you felt about the toys and the clutter, but after reading this I now see the beneifts of letting old toys go. Thank You.

  10. This is great Heidi! Scheduling it in w/ my pins!!

  11. I feel the same way as you trying to declutter my life. Not just the kid’s rooms but the rest of the house. It’s hard because I do like stuff but I am so tired of messes and having to constantly struggle to keep on top of it all…

  12. Haha…my goodness. These are definitely some great tips here! :)

    Thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

  13. Totally agree. When my kids were young we lived in a 36 foot, 2 bedroom, pull behind the truck camper. We traveled all over the country for my husband’s job. There wasn’t a lot of room for toys and extras and we were all happier. We spent time doing stuff together and less time cleaning up.
    Thank you so much for inviting me on this De-Junking journey. I am loving getting rid of stuff and cleaning stuff up. Such a great idea!

  14. Great article. I need to do the same thing. It’s great that your children are happier too. Kathy

  15. We do this every year or so and it seriously makes mine and my kids’s lives so much better! Less “things” that have to fight for our attention! Great article

  16. My husband Jared and I are going through a similar spring cleaning as we get ready for our move. It DOES make us so much happier to have less stuff! Our apartment is less-cluttered and is much easier to maintain.

    Thanks for sharing on Hump Day Happenings!

  17. I didn’t have a ton of toys as a kid and it made my brothers and I use our imaginations and be a lot more creative! We came up with lots of games or different ways to use the toys we had. I definitely will be doing this with my future kids. Thanks for sharing with Hump Day Happenings!

    • I agree, Jenna. Who needs tons of toys when you can just use your imagination. I have noticed that when there are fewer toys, the kids get more imaginative with the ones they have. This morning, my girls were playing store with legos! They were buying and selling them to each other. I never would have thought of that!

  18. 2 months ago i decided to clean my daughter’s room from almost all the toys.. I kept everything and oneday i saw my 18 months girl playing with a 0+ months toy! i didn’t like it because she has puzzles for her age but she was bored, as she could find more “easy” toys to play with!
    And now i am thinking that I have to clean again!

    Thank you fore the remind!

  19. Stephanie Kay says

    Yes. YES. YES!!! I have tried to limit the toys, games, and puzzles in our home but with 5 kids our collection has gotten out of control. My kids dump stuff on the floor, play for a bit, and then wander off some place else. I think this summer we are going to do a drastic purging. I just can’t take the chaos anymore! Thanks for sharing via Family Fun Friday.

  20. I like that you point out that kids may have trouble cleaning up because there’s just too much to clean up. Hello from the Time for a Party linky

  21. I know you are right-on when it comes to decluttering. Sometimes it is hard though at other times it is easier. You have to be ready to let go.

    • I think that’s exactly it, Rose! Sometimes taking extra stuff away and putting it in a box that’s out of sight helps. When you finally get back to the box, you realize that you really didn’t need it.

  22. I love those bins! I need to get my son’s playroom in order myself.

  23. I love to declutter, as long as its not destroying some other side of my room. But everyone finds where I put it and gets it back. I literally have to take it away.

  24. I really need to do this. My kiddos are just 18 months and already we have so much stuff. I never buy new toys, I pick them all up preloved, but that means I buy more because they’re so cheap. And really it’s not fair on them to have to deal with so much stuff at such a young age.
    I did purge some of their baby toys a couple weeks back and made some money selling them. It’s hard though because I’ve bought toys that they are only just now growing into. I do have storage boxes in the playroom that they don’t look inside so I think I should use them to clear more away and then try and switch them out every week or so.

  25. This is something I really need to do!

  26. Good luck, Heather! Getting rid of the extra stuff is so worth it!

  27. I feel like I do this often but yet there are always! I am going to have to do this yet again, thanks!

  28. I’m desperate to do this too BUT what did you do with all the perfectly good toys??? I have such guilt about just tossing them and we don’t have time for a garage sale. Where where where can you donate toys?!?!

    • Hi, Colleen. I totally get your garage sale problem. We’ve been planning one for months and keep running out of time. I’m so tired of having my garage full of all our stuff! I’m sure there are lots of places in your community that would welcome your toys. Here are a few ideas: Good Will, Day Care Centers, any church that has a nursery program (a class for very young children), homeless shelter, battered women shelter. Check around. Your toys could make a big difference to someone in need! If you don’t have time to find locations in your community, it might be as simple as asking a neighbor is she would like them. Good luck!

  29. I love this! Growing up in my house we did this twice a year as well as with clothes. If we hadn’t played or worn it in the last 6 months or if it didn’t fit it went to charity because more than likely we weren’t going to miss it unless it was something of great sentimental value. I think it’s a great way to teach kids how to give to others and that there comes a time when we must let things go. I plan on doing this with my son and future children.

  30. I love it!
    I think the main key here is what you mentioned about having too many toys to manage. Kids are overwhelmed by messes (aren’t we all?), but they just shut down.
    Thanks for the idea and follow up!

  31. I have a permanent box to go to the thrift store in my garage. All the stuff in it goes there about once a month. I also send all the Easter egg hunt junk, goodie bag prizes, dentist prizes, McDonald’s toys, etc. to my classroom prize box. Guess what? I give out prizes on a regular basis all year to my students, and I have never had to buy anything for my prize box. It all comes from my house! That’s great for me, but makes me wonder about our societal fascination with plastic junk.

    • What great ideas, Sarah. When I was teaching school, I didn’t have any kids yet, so I couldn’t funnel junky toys to my classroom. Maybe I’ll have to start donating to my kids’ teachers. (Provided my kids don’t bring the same stuff back home!) I agree about the fascination with junk!

  32. Dang, these kids probably still have more, or at least pricier, toys than I did as a kid!

    • Except for the kitchen, which was a gift, almost everything in that room came from garage sales! When the kids were little, almost all of their toys and gifts were second hand.

  33. Thank you for the inspiration! I’ve got the whole family on board and the goal is to have toys only on the toy shelves (I run a dayhome so I “need” a bit more toys than what I would need if it was just my 2 kids). That will leave room for them to slide on the slide, and kick a stuffed ball around without worrying, and to dance on the “stage” area we set up. I’m almost done!

  34. This is so inspiring! Where did you find your shelf/storage bins? Thanks!

  35. My son is only 1 and I can already see toys becoming a problem, especially since we just had his 1st birthday party and we don’t even have a playroom in our house. There are toys everywhere! I’m also the same way. I stocked up on a lot of toys for various ages at mom2mom, garage sales, and thrift shops for a few months after he was born. It’s nice because I didn’t have to buy a bunch of new stuff for his birthday, but things are quickly getting out of hand.

    Part of me wants to do something like this to simplify. But part of me is holding back because I know play is so important to his development. So I’m torn. :-\ I think (for now) we’re going to try a toy rotation. I think that would be good for his age and would keep things fresh for him and less overwhelming.

    Great post though! I admire you for letting go of so many toys and it’s great that your kids are happy with it too! I hope we can get there one day too. :)

    • Rotating toys is a great idea. We actually did save some toys to rotate. (We found that we never rotated them back in, though! They eventually went to a garage sale or to the attic to save for the grandkids.)

  36. I am definitely not a hoarder and still have trouble with toys at times. We try to stay pretty minimalist in our family yet toys still get very out of control. Our biggest problem is getting our son something from the store or garage sale even though he already has plenty. We have however started to downsize on what he has, and he has been so much happier. He is still very young (2-3 range) but we have him pick up all of his toys every evening before bed, which can make bedtime very stressful for him. It’s hard to ask for gifts of time when you are in the military and family lives too far away, but since we are homeschooling we will be asking family for other sorts of gifts like 1 month of music lessons or gymnastics class. Even an educational magazine is easier to get rid of when he’s done with it than an adorable stuffed animal!

  37. Great post and great idea! But first may I ask how did you manage to make the kids not crying and protesting against te idea? I’m an au pair and just mentioned that once in front of the kids I’m taking care of, and you can’t imagine what a battlefield just the saying of that created. So…. Please share how to make the kids want to do that first. Thanks!

    • Good question. When I brought up the idea with the kids, we focused on how much time was spent cleaning and worrying about keeping the playroom clean. The kids weren’t happy, and I wasn’t happy. It was obvious there was a problem. The kids realized that the playroom wasn’t fun anymore because it was always a mess. I helped them recognize that having a smaller amount of toys would make the playroom easier to take care of and actually allow them to enjoy the playroom and their toys more. I told them they did not have to get rid of any favorite toys. We put some toys away to rotate in and out of the playroom later. They decided which toys to keep in the playroom, which toys to put in a garage sale, and which toys to rotate in and out. The interesting thing is that we never ended up rotating any toys back in. Those toys ended up staying packed away for them to use with their own children, or we eventually put them in a garage sale when the kids realized that they really didn’t like them as much as they thought they did.

      Does that help? First–help them understand the problem and why they will be happier with fewer toys to clean up. Second–help them decide which toys to keep, which toys to donate or sell, and which toys to put away for later. Third–rotate toys in and out of the playroom later–or don’t, if you find out that you don’t need to.

      Make sure the kids understand the plan. They are not throwing away any favorite toys. They will help be in charge of the decision making.

      Do decide ahead of time an amount of toys to keep in the playroom, or you will end up keeping almost everything!!

    • Oh, and I’m so sorry I didn’t see this comment earlier. Somehow it slipped through my emails, and I missed it.

  38. Funny that I find this post just now. In the Kindergarten of my youngest one, they have just started with a “day without toys” in January. Once every week, all toys are locked away. The kids learn to interact better and to start to be creative and use what’s there: Chairs, tables inside, stones and pieces of wood in the garden, when the weather is good. The kids love it and once they got used to the idea are now quite creative in the way they play with each other and their own fantasy and creativity!

  39. This post actually made me cry. I spent so much time on Pinterest picking out the right playroom storage items. I saved to buy a storage unit from ikea. And my kids haven’t been in our playroom for three weeks. It’s too messy! And they know where everything goes too! It’s picture-labeled too! But kids just don’t play that way. They don’t play with the blocks. They make thrones with the blocks for princess barbies and then they take out crayons, paper and glue to make invitations for the ball and then they want to dress up for the ball. So it all gets jumbled together everyday. And yes play dates mean we rush around getting it back organized abs spic and span for every bin to be empty within 30 minutes of the door ringing. They have unopened Christmas gifts because there is nowhere for new toys to go in the playroom. You have made me face it. I don’t need to reorganize; I need fewer toys.

    • I know just how you feel, Allison. I went through that same cycle. We want our kids to have everything, and then one day we realize that “everything” is too hard to take care of. Check out my comment to Marsi above. You can do it, and the kids don’t have to be upset about it, either. Make them part of the process. They’ll thank you for it when it’s done!

  40. Hi, i know this article is old but i’m hoping you have a post related to the storage or purge of kid books? I am dying to get rid of every single toy they have but i also have a problem with books.

    • I have the same problem with books! I don’t have a post about it, but here’s what I have done. I realized that the book problem was really my problem. The books were mine that I had collected as a teacher over the years. I had the kids go through them with me. I was surprised that my favorites were not always the kids’ favorites. It was easy to get rid of the books that didn’t mean much to anyone. Books that the kids had grown out of and had no emotional attachment to went to younger cousins or Good Will. Books that they were attached to, but had grown out of went in a special box to save for their own kids. Over time, we have gone through the books over and over–gradually getting rid of more and more. I also had to realize that I had too much stuff, and I needed to purge books, too. I have still kept my favorite children’s books, but I got rid of a lot — realizing that the library is a great way to get books in the home without having to take care of them forever. Good luck!

  41. at what ages is it ok time start tossing toys? mine are 3, 2 and 6 months.

    • I’d say whenever it feels right for you, Cortney. If it feels like you have more than the kids can take care of, then you probably have too many. I’d say the problem gets worse as the kids get older and they get more responsibility for cleaning up. Good luck!

  42. What are the names of the bins you put your toys into?

    • Hi, Sarah. It depends on which bins you mean. The old bins with the colored plastic tubs were from Target. (You’ll see a link to similar bins in the Amazon ad within the post.) The brown cubbies with the white canvas boxes in them were from Costco. I’ve seen them come and go at Costco. You can find similar things at IKEA. Good luck!

  43. Great job decluttering the play room I’m going to do this tomorrow! How can I print your clean your room printable?

    • Thanks, Sarah B. The images at the end of my posts that tell about other blog posts are always linked to those posts. All you have to do is click on the image, and you’ll go right to that post. So, just click on the image of the Clean Your Room Printable, and the computer will take you right to the post where you can download the printable. Let me know if you have any trouble.

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