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“Ok, kids. You can watch a movie. But. You need to clean up your toys first.”

“But Mama! It’s tooooo hard!”

“Sorry, guys, but the toys need to be picked up first.”

Fast forward thirty minutes; the toys are still everywhere and there’s a lot of whining and complaining going on. And the kids are making a big fuss, too.

Sound familiar?

Once upon a time, my kids had a play room full of toys. It was brimming with cars, dress-up clothes and big toys that housed smaller toys. Then I learned about minimalism and attacked the room, decreasing its contents by half.

Six months later, we moved in with my parents, who already had a hefty toy collection for the grandkids. Holy. Cow. Four kids in one room with a ton of toys. Bad combination.

I got sick of the constant toy clean-up battle one day and hit the room with garbage bags. The first toys going out were Grandma’s. I explained to the kids that they would come out again after we moved when they worriedly asked what I was doing. But after those five bags had been bagged up and taken out to the shed, they got really concerned.

I explained that they didn’t need so many toys. It wasn’t fair for mama to give them more than they could handle if they couldn’t put them away. I bagged every toy, except for the ones they played with on a very regular basis. They cried. They bargained. And then they helped, because I made one rule:

If they asked me for any specific toy, I would bring it back in immediately. BUT. They couldn’t ask until the next day.

I took out 8 bags of toys that day. And brought back in a total of … 2 toys. Yep. My oldest wanted his helicopters back, so I went and got them for him. I’m still amazed at how quickly they forgot about those toys.

Two moves, and two toy purges later, and I’m pretty happy about our current toy collection. Yes, we could get rid of more as I still make note of the toys the kids play with the least. But overall, I’m a pretty happy lady because:

They need less than we think to be happy

Kids are natural minimalists. My oldest only has Legos and Magic cards now. And he plays with them all the time. The amount of toys they play with regularly has greatly decreased and each kiddo has their own (very) small box to keep their toys in. They learn to “need” all this stuff from us.

Clean up takes a few minutes

The kids and I watched a movie together last night. But first I made them hit pause and pick up toys because they were all out on the floor. Three minutes later, my son was navigating the DVD menu and we settled in for some popcorn and snuggling.

Their play is more creative

The kids have come up with countless games and make-believe scenarios. Today’s chef coat is tomorrow’s Ninja uniform. And did you know that one cardboard box can provide hours of entertainment?

Are you frustrated with the toy situation at your house? What steps can you take right now to get it under control?