How to Get Your Kids to Actually Play with Their Toys (and control the clutter!)

If you’re like me, you might be completely overwhelmed at two things – the amount of toys your kids have, and the VERY SMALL amount of time your kids actually play with them.

After all, how in the world could you get bored when you literally have boxes boxes of toys? There are limitless opportunities to play!

Day after day though, I watched as my preschooler kept on bothering me to play (Don’t get me wrong, I like to play with him… but all the time? No!) 

I told him to play with his toys, and he would pour them out of his bins, then say he wanted to watch TV. 

If you're looking to finally organize the toy clutter for your toddler or baby, then check out these easy 7 steps to kicking the mess and regaining control of the clutter!

With Christmas on the way, I honestly didn’t even know the point of more toys. The kids don’t play with them, and I just have more junk to clean up at the end of the day.

I knew I needed to change something – I didn’t want them to grow up with no creativity or self sustainability. I’m probably part of the problem, because I would just flip on the TV once the whine got to be too much, and I was too tired to deal with it that day.

I needed to figure out a way to get them to play with the toys, then maybe the problem of only wanting to watch TV would go away too.

So I did something drastic – I removed about 95% of their toys.

You know how you shop on Amazon, then get stuck going down the rabbit hole of reviews, related products, and 4 hours later haven’t even made a choice?

Overwhelm!

I figured that was what was happening with the kids, and that the first way to lessen the TV time was to get them to want to play with their toys!

Anyways, here’s how I got rid of over 95% of their toys EASY.

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Before we start… what I mean when I say “Get rid of them”

For most toys (unless they are not age appropriate or just trash) I “got rid of them” but putting them in a box for storage. 

Occasionally, I will switch out their toys so that they are always kept new and exciting! 

It’s just not neccessary to have all 50 toys and their random assorted small pieces out at once!

Quick Tip: Skip the fancy wood organizers, and get the wire metal cubes + bins!

My parents organized our stuff in these awesome wire bins that are customizable, REALLY durable and come in tons of colors!

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I’ll snap a picture of how I’m using them tomorrow – I just wanted to let you see what I’m working with, or perhaps provide some inspiration that you can still have a nice organized play area without the IKEA wood storage center!

Here’s what I used

wire cubes to help organize toy clutter
These wire cubes are awesome because they are REALLY sturdy (my 40 pounder is able to sit on them… not that he should!) and you can customize your set for the size you need! For example, you can make some really tall ones, or just squares like above (in any amount – I use 3) PLUS they are way cheaper than the wood ones!
basic fabric bin for breaking up large toy clutter
While there are definitely tons of cute designs, the basic fabric bin is all you need to get started! DON’T do a ton.. they might all get dumped! I only used 1 or 2 in my set up! But it helps to keep things neat and away – clear boxes always look cluttery to me because you can see what’s inside (and it’s usually a bunch of different colored busy stuff that takes away from the clean organized look!)

1. Filter the toys and keep only age appropriate ones

This was one of the easeiest things – not going to lie, when we get new toys I just tend to pile it on with the rest.

And, being an avid thrift store shopper, I am always finding awesome deals and buying things without really thinking if I (or the kids!) actually need it!

So, if you have a preschooler, make sure you don’t have any more baby toys!

This might include teethers, rattles, or “lovies” that don’t really get loved anymore.

Or, if you have babies, get rid of the toys that are too old for them – this might include difficult puzzles, electronic toys that just get thrown around, or toys that are way above their skill level (IE, a toy that they can “build”)

2. Remove the things that aren’t actually toys

I know this is a hard one, because every kid has that random thing they like – for me, it was silicone strainer and some pouring devices that you put onto a pot to reduce spillage!

I’m not saying get rid of ALL non toy items (I did keep two cups since they love putting things in and out, as well as a whisk for their kitchen) but randoms like that half ripped paper plate they use as a hat, or the cheapy sippy cup you got for free at a restaraunt, or the cap from a milk carton…

Chuck em!

You’d be surprised at how much of this stuff is floating around! Especially at the bottom of the bins or boxes~

This will also help with quick clean up should company come over – you know your kid has an obsession with the crunchiness of the candy wrapper, but to everyone else that just looks like there’s trash on the ground!

3. Remove broken toys, or toys that are no longer functional due to missing pieces

Another hard one – I know some of my sons toys were missing legs, and I kept saying that I would fix them so we kept them.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen!

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I finally got rid of them! I also found that alot of trucks and things were missing tires, or some of his electronic toys I bought used just didn’t work. They were super big too so I got rid of those as well!

You might not have that many of these, but it does help narrow down your toys a bit!

4. If you haven’t seen it played with in that past couple weeks, get rid of it!

By played with, I mean more than just dumped on the ground!

An easy way to distinguish this for me was getting rid of basically everything under the “top layer” of toys. 

The top layer was typically the toys that were actually used since they were the last to be picked up,!

5. Remove and store all things that have pieces (PUZZLES!)

This REALLY helped declutter the mess – I had over 10 puzzleboards and 100+ puzzle pieces just junking up the play space!

I love puzzles – but if your kid has a hard time sitting down and focusing on them, maybe keep them stored so that they can be used when monitored!

Besides, how in the world can your kid even do a puzzle if he has to search through all three toy bins to MAYBE find all the pieces!

I now have all my puzzle boards and puzzles stored in his room, and when we have some quiet time, I bring out one puzzle at a time and we work on it together!

Some other things that might have lots of pieces include legos, barbie sets or kitchen sets. These are all awesome, but just choose to keep out one set at a time!

For example, I have a ton of stacking blocks that go onto a train – the kids love it, but the pieces end up EVERYWHERE!

So now that toy comes out once a week, and is put away after the day is done.

6. Consider having a theme or schedule of toys for the week

If you have a ton of toys you want to keep, you might want to think about creating a couple bins of related items. 

This is really helpful if you have alot of toys, and they are all actually good ones (for example, you arrived almost at the end of this list, and you haven’t really gotten rid of much yet!)

For example, you could have an animal bin, filled with varieties of toy animals, a block bin, and a trucks bin.

Feel free to still keep a few favorites out, but this really helps cut down on the mass of toys while still being able to use them!

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7. Keep those “emergency” toys hidden – the sound making electronic ones you know they love (but are really annoying!) 

You know what I’m talking about – that annoying Vtech toy that talks even when it seems like no one is even near it! Or that vaccum that plays the same annoying tune over and over, and the kids don’t even really listen to it because they just want to keep slamming the buttons!

Yes, they love those… but often times they don’t promote open ended play (OK, maybe the vaccume does… but it’s still annoying!) and tend to create a very busy feeling in the play room.

For me, the constant sound of multiple kid songs playing from different toys is overwhelming – it might be for the kids too!

So I hide them various places, and when something comes up, such as surprise company and I got 20 minutes to clean, I pull out all the stops and let them play with those toys!

Don’t forget to pin it for later!

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