Scenic Erie Station Village

How to Reduce Toy Clutter

Kids playing with toys on the couch while a parent works on their laptop and a dog watches. Image credit: Cottonbro

April 2022

If your apartment or townhome occasionally looks more like more toy store than a home, we have 5 simple tips that will help you get it under control. These aren’t just about how best to store toys, although we’ve included tips for that, too. We also provide strategies for controlling the volume of toys in your home.

Evaluate and Reduce

If you have toys that your kids haven’t touched in months, or toys with broken and missing parts, take some time to sort through things. Create three piles: keep, donate, and toss. The toys that are your child’s favorites go in the keep pile. This includes beloved toys that they no longer play with and toys they will want for sentimental reasons when they’re older. Any toys that are broken or have missing parts go in the toss pile. The rest get donated. Be sure to include your child in this process. Chances are, when you explain how other children will benefit from the toys they donate, it’s easier for them to part with those they no longer need.

A Place for Everything

Whether you use storage baskets, totes, or a dedicated shelf in a closet, create a space for every toy to live. Then let those containers dictate how much you keep. The secret to paring down the volume is to let the container be the bad guy. When the bin is full, it’s time for your child to make choices about what stays and goes.

Toy Rotation

Kids typically only play with a small selection of toys at any given time. If you remove some toys from sight and rotate toys in and out of circulation every 2-3 weeks, they willbe less likely to get bored with their toys. Just create an out-of-sight place, such as a storage tote that lives in your garage, where the out-of-circulation toys are kept.

Create Toy-Free Zones

Kids somehow manage to spread their toys everywhere. From the bedroom to the bathroom, wherever they last used a toy is typically where it’s left. One thing you can do to mentally reduce the clutter is declare toy-free areas in your apartment. Just be sure to set and enforce consequences. For example, any toy found in a toy-free zone “disappears” for a set number of days.

Go Vertical

Go into any apartment or townhome where kids live and chances are you’ll find the toys on the ground or close to it. With very young children, this keeps the toys where they can be reached. But as soon as your kids have a higher reach or can safely use a step stool, take advantage of it. Hooks on the back of a door, floating shelves, or closet shelves should all be considered.