Too Many Toys? How To Teach Kids To Let Go (Practical Tips)

Things just pile up when you have kids.


Let’s talk about how to get rid of stuff… without TOO much drama!

We live in a 1,100 sq. ft. city apartment – so keeping everything is not really an option for us!

Teaching Them To Let Go

We try to teach our kid a natural rhythm around stuff.

Around Christmas and Birthday, we get a lot of new stuff. So, at other times, some stuff needs to go.

We’ll say something like:

“You’re going to get a lot of new presents – we need to make space for that. Something needs to go.”

We’ll have a talk about what he doesn’t play with. We’ll look at what he’s ready to part with.

Maybe it’s time to donate some of his toys to a smaller kid. (We sometimes use his old toys for gifts when our friends’ smaller kids have birthdays).

Here’s how we downsize on toys!

The “Box in the Attic” Strategy

This is a great way to get rid of stuff.

You don’t need an attic for this, a box under the bed or in the closet will work well too!

Here’s the plan:

  1. Fill a box with stuff.
  2. Put the box out of sight in the attic, basement, etc.
  3. Wait a month or two (this is the trick!)
  4. Donate/sell what’s not being used.

The good thing about this strategy is that you can return the toys. It’s not a final decision (yet).

You can do this a few times to pare down.

For smaller kids (ages 0-3), you probably want to do this without them knowing. Small kids won’t understand the process, and they’ll want to keep EVERYthing!

For slightly older kids, you can involve them in the process. Have them help you fill the box.

But don’t show them where the box is placed.

They probably can’t resist putting it all back.

(This “trick” works for your wardrobe as well, by the way!)

Rotate Their Toys

This is a good tip if you have extra space in the attic or basement.

Rather than buying new stuff – just rotate what they already have!

This will free up space in their room and make it much easier to tidy up the room. You’ll also save money on new toys.

Tips for rotating:

  1. Choose some of the toys or activities your kid is currently enjoying, and maybe one that is just a little challenging.
  2. The rest, pack away!
  3. After about a week or two, you can swap out some toys your kid isn’t using as much for the toys you packed away.
  4. Some toys might end up on your toy shelf for months as your kid just loves playing with them.

This is a great way to get good mileage out of toys.

It also helps you see which toys aren’t used as much, and are ready to be passed on.

Take Stuff to the Thrift Store

This can be a good moment for teaching your kid about blessing others.

Talk about how some kids have very little – compared to them – and have them fill a box to donate.

Where to start?


Kids outgrow books quickly. The shelf is probably full of books that were fun 1-2 years ago!

Kids quickly lose interest in books – so it’s an easy area to start. A few items might need to go in the “Keepsake Box”, though.
(Stuff with emotional value).

Fill the box and take them to the thrift store!

Check out my blog about teaching our kids HOW to shop at the thrift store 😉

Get One Give One

This is good practice for living simply in general.

For each gift your kid gets, be it on a birthday or other occasion, help them choose one to giveaway.

Pro-Dad Tip: Your kid might have some great ideas about where their toys could be donated. You can talk to them about some charities that help other kids in your area.

This might be the perfect opportunity to start early conversations about consumerism, gratitude, and sharing.

Set a Limit

Sometimes, the best way to declutter is by setting a limit on toys–for the parent/s!

You can set the limit on when “enough is enough”.

This could be setting a number limit on the type of toys your kid has or the limit on the size of a toy box.

This also includes a “use what you have” mentality. Check out my blog about building old lego sets with FREE online manuals 😊

Use Gift-Giving Seasons

Some religions have a season or day when friends and family may give gifts.

This is a perfect opportunity to, once again, talk to your kid about generosity and giving.

A cool idea is to have a “gift box” set up in your living room.

If you celebrate these religious seasons, ask your kid/s to choose a toy or a book to add to the box on some or all of the gift-giving days.

You can choose a charity or family to give the gift box to.

Alternative Gift Ideas

We can gather a lot of toy “stuff” at birthday parties.

And it’s often stuff our kids don’t really need.

Here are some cool alternative gift ideas for kids:

  • Give an experience like a trip to the movies or adventure day.
  • Give an activity – a dance or craft class. (Depending on your budget, this could be a weekly class you sign your kid up for).
  • Tell friends and family your kid is saving for X – ask for help to reach this goal. Instead of getting more toys, your kid’s friends can give a couple of dollars as a birthday present.
  • Sign up for a subscription (mainly for older kids). There are some really cool activity boxes and magazine subscriptions for kids!

If They Can’t Let Go…

I guess we can’t blame them–most of us have WAY too much stuff!

They might need a little motivation.

Kids are often easy to influence:

– Sweeten the pot!
Let them get something they really like – if they let go. Maybe a trip to a trampoline park or a new bike (or whatever you’ll need to buy anyway).

– Sell it
Bigger kids (probably 5+) can have a lot of fun setting up a booth.

– Start small
Start with a really small box. Praise them for letting go of a few things.

– Bribe them
Offer a piece of candy for each item they place in the box. This typically gets things moving.

Thanks for reading!

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