Tips for Decluttering Toys and Stuffed Animals {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 28} | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Tips for Decluttering Toys and Stuffed Animals {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 28}

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tips for Decluttering Toys and Stuffed Animals {Decluttering Sentimental Items - Day 28}

Today in the Decluttering Sentimental Items series I'm sharing tips for decluttering toys and stuffed animals. These can be either from your childhood or from your kids.  These days kids get SO many toys and stuffies and if you're not diligently decluttering them, they can clutter up your home.

Why toys and stuffies are hard to let go of 

Toys and stuffed animals can be hard to let go of because they are filled with memories of when we were little or when our kids were small.  Kids especially can have a hard time prioritizing which items are more special than others, so it's hard for them to let go of any of them.

Full disclosure... my kids have a hard time letting go of their stuffies.  My son sleeps with a few and my daughter has a whole zoo on the side of her bed.  Plus they both have a pocket organizer {affiliate link} on the back of their bedroom door full of stuffed animals.

They rotate these into the ones on their beds on a regular basis and at this point in time they don't want to let go of any of them.  Every once in awhile they'll agree to give a few away (I try to encourage 1 in 1 out... so for example if my daughter receives one for her birthday or Christmas I encourage her to give away one of her old ones).

For now, I'm fine with this arrangement.  Of course I'd prefer that they don't have as many stuffies as they do.  But the pocket organizers {affiliate link} are amazing and help keep the stuffies off their floor which is a HUGE improvement from how it was before.  I'm sure at some point they'll be willing to let more of them go and if I force it now it will likely only make them dig their heels in more.

So... I pick my battles.  They're much better at decluttering than they used to be.  But while I give tips in this post, know that I'm not necessarily implementing all of them with my kids :)

Tips for letting go of toys and stuffed animals 

I've written a bunch of posts with tips for decluttering general toys, so I won't reinvent the wheel here... here are some links you can check out!

But some toys are extra sentimental.  Here are some tips to help you declutter those ones:

  • Know yourself and declutter in a way that works for you.  For some people who have sentimental toys or stuffies from their own childhood that they want to declutter, it's easier to have someone else toss the bag or box without looking through them.  For others, they want to go through them and say goodbye to them. 
  • If you've been overwhelmed thinking about the clutter and the process of decluttering sentimental toys and stuffed animals, it can actually be a relief once you're finished.  Focus on that and it will help you through the process of letting go.
  • Take pictures of the toys or stuffies to make it easier to let them go (unless you already have a bunch of pictures of your kids playing or snuggling with them).  The feelings are attached to the memories, not the objects so you can look back through old pictures and remember your childhood or your kids' childhood fondly... without all the stuff.
  • Keep in mind stuffed animals collect dust which is not great for those with allergies. They can also attract mice and bugs if not stored well, so limiting your collection or your kids' collection to just those really special ones will reduce the negative aspects of keeping them.
  • If your children are still accumulating toys, it's important to set a limit so you don't keep growing your "toys to keep" collection as your kids grow. Whether it's 1-2 special toys per year that they no longer play with but don't want to part with, or 1 shelf total, or 1 bin, you decide how much will be kept.  And then regularly declutter to prevent the collection from expanding.
  • If your special toys and stuffed animals are in good condition, find people in need that you can give them to.  It makes it easier to let them go when you know someone else will love them and build memories with them as well.  Many fire halls collect stuffed animals to comfort kids after a fire.  Shelters for abused women and their kids are happy to pass on toys to kids who may have had to leave theirs behind when they left.  Even animal rescue centers often take stuffed animals to comfort the animals in their care.  {Note: please don't donate stuffies if they are dusty or buggy. That's just wasting the time and energy of volunteers at the charity and the bugs can spread to other donated items.}

In a stuffed animals discussion in the 365 Items in 365 Days FB group, several members had bins of stuffies that their moms had kept for them and they felt guilty decluttering them.  Through that discussion, most realized that they needed to make decisions that were best for themselves when it comes to keeping things and that if they were prepared to let go of (most of) them, but their moms didn't want them to, then it was time to turn the stuffies over to the moms to decide for themselves if they kept them or not.  Same goes for toys.

Also from that discussion, we decided it's better for us not to keep a lot of toys or stuffed animals for our kids because it puts the same kind of burden on them to have to make decisions later in life about what to keep and what to let go of.  If we choose to keep some of our kids' things we need to be honest about whether we're doing it for our kids when they get older, or if it's really for ourselves.

Peter Walsh is great at helping people declutter anything, but I love watching him in action when he's helping people declutter toys.  Check out this 2-part session he had with one large family and their cluttered family room!

Ready for the reveal?!

Peter's primary decluttering strategy is to help people focus on what they want out of a space.  Then as they declutter they make decisions on what to keep and what to let go of based on whether it helps them achieve their vision.  If it does, they keep it.  If it doesn't, they let it go.  Hopefully that strategy will help you as you declutter your sentimental toys and stuffed animals too!

Helping Children Declutter

Since we're talking about toys and stuffed animals, it's a good time to talk about helping kids declutter.  People often ask me whether it's better to declutter for their kids, or to have their kids be part of the process.  When they're very little, it makes sense for you to declutter for them.  But once they get to about 4 or 5 years old, I think it's time to get them involved.

It definitely takes longer when the kids are decluttering, but I really believe it's better for them in the long run if they are the ones making the decisions about what to keep and what to let go of.  Even if their choices are not the same ones you'd make.

It's a really important life skill that you're helping them develop.  And in the consumer-driven world we live in, they're going to need to learn to make decisions about what's special and what's not.  What to keep and what to let go of.  You're doing them a disservice if you don't help them learn to let go from an early age.

If your child is sentimental, my friend Alli wrote a great guest post here on helping your sentimental child declutter. It's filled with awesome tips! Check it out!

Ways you can reuse/repurpose/display toys and stuffed animals 

Special toys and stuffies can be reused (not sure about repurposed... any ideas for that?).  And they can be displayed or stored where they can be easily enjoyed.  Here are a few ideas:

  • You can keep a few really special ones in a memory bin, depending on your space. 
  • You can keep a few favourites for when you have guests over or for your future grandchildren to play with.  If you do this I recommend keeping toys that are timeless, versatile, and that will remain in good condition.  My mom and dad kept some of my brothers' and my Little People toys, a few dolls, some Lego, and several Hot Wheels cars and our kids enjoyed playing with them when they went to their house.  
  • You could display some on a shelf up high in your child's bedroom or playroom. 
  • There are display cases you can buy for specific types of toys.  Like this one that can be used for cars, minifigs, or other small toys {affiliate link}:

Here are a few stories from 365'rs:

  • "Sometimes, when it comes to sentimental items, we need to hold on to them for those possible future moments. They hold memories and stories and you'll be able to share those with your kiddos. I have a few teddy bears from when I was a kid. I wasn't sure why I was holding on to them, but I just couldn't let the last few go. My favourite childhood teddy bear now lives on my youngest's bed along with his favourite stuffed animal. He needed some extra comfort one day and so I passed my bear on to him. We've had many conversations about my memories of my bear and all the troubled times and good times he saw me through. My point is, that sometimes it's OK to hold on to a few precious items, even if they live in a box in the back of the closet for a while."
  • "I kept toys that were valuable and versatile. Huge tub of Legos and Duplos. Small tub of puzzles. And I made my son's old child suitcase into a "visitors" case with crayons, a coloring book, a puzzle, and a few other things. Easy to pull out when a child visits. For years I kept a few versatile toddler things also but I think those are all long gone."
  • "When my daughter moved into her dorm room her freshman year of college she had the blanket and sheet set she wanted but no stuffed animals. About 2 months later she called and asked if I could send Aurora to her. I said 'Aurora the white polar bear?' 'Yes Mom, what other Aurora do you know?' I guess that is one way to reduce the numbers at home!"
  • "I'm passing most of my stuffed toys on to my grandson...only had a few."

Don't Start Your Decluttering Journey With Sentimental Items

Just a quick reminder that if you have "regular" (non-sentimental) clutter in your home, it's better to deal with that first and set aside your sentimental clutter until your home is less cluttered.  Decluttering your everyday items will likely make more of an impact on your daily life than sentimental decluttering will.  And sentimental items are generally more difficult to tackle so it's better to build up to them.

Whether you're decluttering sentimental items or general clutter, join our 365 Items in 365 Days Facebook group!  You'll find lots of encouragement, motivation, and tips as we all declutter our homes and lives together.  You can find more details about the 365 Items in 365 Days challenge here too.

For More Decluttering Sentimental Items Tips

Want more tips?  Check these the 31 Days of Easy Decluttering series!

Or the Decluttering From A to Z series from last October!

If you'd like more decluttering ideas, you can check out my Decluttering/Purging Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.

Your turn! 

Why are toys and stuffies hard to let go of? If you've decluttered toys and stuffed animals, what helped you decide what to keep and what to let go of? What tips can you share for decluttering toys and stuffed animals?

As you declutter your toys and stuffies, take pictures and share them on social media using the hashtag #declutteringsentimentalitems so you can inspire all of us to declutter our sentimental items!

If you've got a picture of how you displayed or re-purposed toys or stuffed animals, please share it in the comments or on one of the series' social media posts.   I'd love to see how you are giving honour and respect to your sentimental items!

Happy organizing decluttering!

Here are all the posts in this challenge in case you missed any or want to share some with your friends or family!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!