The Great Toy Avalanche

Okay, I am crowdsourcing some help with my dilemma, because I’m really stumped… how do you keep toy clutter to a minimum when your kid wants to keep everything?

So, like most kids, my two children have all sorts of toys, and I’m trying my best to keep them to a manageable level. Meaning, that the toys we have are ones that get played with regularly, are working and in good condition, and are contained in the storage spaces we have and not overflowing the house. The trouble, however, is that my daughter (age 4.5) wants to keep every toy she’s ever had, no matter if it’s something she’s outgrown or if it’s broken. Every picture she’s drawn, every remaining piece of a set that’s lost some parts…. Whenever I try to do a toy purge, I’m met with her cries of “Please, Mama, don’t get rid of that! I love it!”. A few weeks ago I dumped out the stuffed animal bin (estimate: 30-35) and tried to get her help in selecting a few to give away. But each one was suddenly her very favorite and we couldn’t possibly give that one away. I’ve resorted to doing clean-outs on Thursdays, when the kids are at Grandma’s house for the day, and making sure I empty the trash into the outside barrels and take a load to Goodwill before they get home that evening.

I really want to encourage my daughter to give to others, and she really is a kind and generous kid, but there’s something about having to give up a toy that just breaks her down. So: moms of older kids, is this a little-kid thing that gets better with age? Or is this mostly a personality issue? What are some of your tips for getting your kids to cooperate with purges and clean-outs?

I need all the advice I can get! In the meantime, I’ll be sorting through the stuffed-animal bin when my daughter is asleep…