How to avoid toy overload

Having kids is great. Having kids that have a million toys strewn all over your home is… not so great.

I have struggled to let go of toys that Elliott no longer uses. I don’t know what it is. I’m sentimental about who bought it for him or I’m sentimental about him using them when he was itty bitty. Either way, it is tough for me to part with his toys (don’t even get me started on his clothes!). Since it is so difficult to let go, his bedroom often looks like this:

How To Avoid Toy Overload
As you can see, it’s not a pretty sight.

Since it is the beginning of the year, and to me, that means it’s time to purge and organize my entire home, I have been working on taming the toy collection. I’m pleased to say that after going through all of the toys in this house, I have whittled down the collection to a manageable amount.

Here’s how we avoid toy overload in our home:

1. One in, one out – When a new toy comes home, we have to let go of an old one. We either put it on the “for sale” shelf in the basement, or it goes into the donation box. I find that by doing this, we avoid having way too many toys that don’t end up getting played with.

2. Put it away for another day – Every month or so, I take away a bunch of Elliott’s toys that he hasn’t been playing with as much and I put them in a storage bin in the basement. The next month, I will bring those toys back out for him to play with and put something else away for a month. This makes it seem like there are always new toys to play with and nothing ever gets boring!

3. Stick to quality toys – I like to stick to quality toys that Elliott can play with for years and that his future siblings will be able to play with as well. We like Little Tikes, Fisher-Price, Melissa & Doug and Leapfrog. Let’s not forget Lego and Mega Bloks, too! We also like to make sure that almost all of the toys we own are educational in some way. Just like I don’t want my kid to watch TV shows with zero educational value, I feel the same way about his toys!

What about relatives that always give your kids toys?

It’s very kind and generous when relatives give your children toys, but sometimes you just DON’T NEED ANYMORE. Many people will say “oh, it’s just one little toy” or “it’s small, it won’t take up much room” or “but look how cute is!”, but you know when enough is enough.

If you really feel that your children do not need any more toys, speak up! Tell people that although you appreciate the gesture, you really don’t need any more toys in your home. Let them know of items your child does need, such as clothing, books, or maybe even some money deposited into his/her college fund.

Remember that these people are giving toys to your children because they love them, so don’t hurt their feelings by saying “don’t give us any more toys”. Tell them that you appreciate them and know they mean well, and give them other suggestions for gifts.


  1. AJ

    Great post. My son is only 5 months old and we keep 4 small toys out for him to play with right now, it works and isn’t a mess. However for Christmas, my mother in law went nuts. She bought him a billion toys and most were for ages 6+ YEARS (like 3 remote control cars, wtf?). We donated 50% of the stuff and sold a few as well. I just can’t stand the clutter of toys. We have friends whose homes are overtaken with toys in every room of the house. Makes it difficult to walk around without killing yourself sometimes. By the way I love that carpet in your sons bedroom, cute!

  2. Zoe

    Oh my! Thanks for posting this. With 4 kids (6,2,1,6 months), imagine the toy overload I have! What I do is:
    6 y/o has a big storage box in his room for his toys.
    1 and 2 y/o- I left mega blocks so that they can play if they get up earlier than me and dh.
    I stored the rest of their toys in the upstairs closet and they boys choose the toys they wanna play with downstairs and they will take those toys up when they go to bed. So far it helps. I rotate their toys too so they don’t get bored.
    And concerning the relatives who buy too many toys, yup, I gotta speak up. I think clothes or money is better on some occasions.

    • Cassie Howard

      Zoe – Oh geez, I can’t imagine how many toys you have, hehehe. I like the idea of having them pick toys to play with down stairs and every night they have to bring them back upstairs and put them away. I also agree that clothing or money is definetely much better than buying toys (most of the time).

      AJ – Grandparents always seem to be the ones buying way too many toys for the kiddos. It’s generous and all, but is totally not necessary for kids to have SO MANY toys. I also can’t stand toy clutter. Makes me batty! And thank you about the carpet – it took us FOREVER to find one that we liked that didn’t cost us an arm & a leg!

  3. Theresa

    Just yesterday I told my husband my son is going to be a hoarder:) He won’t let me get rid of anything! He is 8, and a lot of his things are made of tiny pieces(think Lego) that I find all around the house. It drives me nuts. I once got rid of some things, including a book about snakes that he had not read in over a year. Wouldn’t you know he asked for that book a few months later. I had to admit that I gave it to the thrift store. I ended up going to the thrift store, praying it was still there, and it was. Bought it back and since then haven’t donated a thing. Kinda defeats the purpose of donating if I have to buy my things back! LOL.

    My son also has that gigantic bear that you have. He wanted that for his birthday. It looked halarious sitting in the back seat of the car driving home from Toy’R’Us.

  4. MaricrisMas

    OMG…DH lovvvvvvves to buy toys…he’s actually the biggest kid in the house…but it’s soooooooo hard when he finds really good deals…ie. x’mas at Zellers Fisher Price stuff was 40% off (and he knows his prices)…plus 10% SPC of course…but our one bedroom and den is overrun with toys!…and like you mentioned we have a hard time parting with some for sentimental reasons…luckily I started to kiiji and we can donate in a bin in our recycling room in our condo!…but it’s hard when even with the girls just 2 years apart…they have different tastes in toys already!…I know what you mean about getting toys as gifts…I don’t want to be a bah-humbug…but how many stuffed toys (that just accumulate dust) can one person really have/need or want?!…thank god most of my family puts gift receipts with things!…ha ha ha…Hazel and Lauren has that lion thing too where you put balls in it and it sings!…I don’t want to mention how many times I’ve tripped on in it and it starts singing!

    • Cassie Howard

      Hahaha I can tell that your DH is a big kid Maricris. I can totally picture him as being one of those kids that just spoils his kids like crazy.
      And OMG I always trip on that lion thing and it scares the crap out of me when it starts sining!

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