Get your kids or grandkids involved in sorting through toys they’ve stopped playing with. Yes, this might remind the kids that these toys exist and suddenly they’ll start playing with them again, but I’m thinking their excitement about their rediscovery of these items won’t last (long).
Explain that you want to give the toys to a charity that will give the toys to children whose families can’t afford toys; or, to a friend who has children who’d like some new playthings. Kids are used to the idea of sharing toys and will understand that they’ve outgrown these toys.
Allow the kids to make the decisions.
Have the kids sort through their playthings for broken toys that can’t be fixed and that they no longer play with. These can be indoor or outdoor toys. Eliminating broken toys is not an excuse to go out and replace them. Chances are the kids or grandkids still have plenty of toys.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Get rid of any broken item in your home.
If you have a pool or go to a pool and have toys to take along, check out the condition of the items. Is anything worn or damaged? Is there mold? Clear out the items that you, your kids, or your guests won’t or can’t use.
If this task doesn’t apply to you … use your 15-minutes of decluttering to get rid of three-to-five horrible photographs (print or digital.
I know, you held onto that card or board game for a while, thinking that the missing piece would show up. It hasn’t. It’s time to decide whether you can use a make-shift piece or whether the ease of play is gone. If you have kids, ask them if there are games on their shelves that they don’t play with because of missing pieces. Can they come up with a creative solution for the missing piece or are they ready to release the game?
If this doesn’t apply to you: Pull a book off your shelf that you haven’t read and decide if you will start reading it today or if you will pass it along to a new owner.
If you have balls for the kids or grandkids, check that they are still in good condition. If they are deflated, will they hold more air when inflated? Before replacing that soccer ball or playground-style ball, consider the last time your kids or grandkids went looking for the items. If it’s been a while, don’t worry about holding onto the old items or purchasing new.
Gather in one place any sports equipment that you own. Encourage your family to do the same.
Do you still participate in these sports?
If so, do you have duplicate equipment because you upgraded without getting rid of the older items?
Do your kids have equipment that they’ve outgrown? (Could you sell these items?)
Is the equipment in good condition?
Do you use everything you have or are there pieces that could be sold, donated, or, perhaps, tossed? If you are telling yourself that you will get back to participating in a sport, when will that be? Can you block out your schedule … or, is it time to acknowledge that your life has changed, and you can enjoy your memories and release some expectations?
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Eliminate one kitchen gadget you don’t use.
My cat loves the red pull tabs that we remove from jugs of milk or apple cider. When I look under or behind furniture … a red pull tab or two (or five). Every so often, the cat creates a convention of red pull tabs in some random spot.
How many toys does your pet have? How many do they use? I know, my cat will suddenly start playing with a toy that she’s ignored for months. (She must pick up on my thoughts. Within an hour of thinking that I’m going to toss a box that she hasn’t gone in for a week or throw out a long-ignored toy, suddenly she’s sleeping in that box or skittering across the floor with that toy.
So, evaluate your pets’ toys … are there toys that are too chewed-on or damaged or in not-great condition that your pet no longer plays with and that won’t be missed?
Are there “new” toys that are no longer new but have been completely ignored by your pet. (My cat hated the tunnel I bought for her. It took me nearly two years to acknowledge she wasn’t going to use it. I donated it.)
Gather all the toys you can find and post a picture on A Less Cluttered Life’s Facebook page … do you know there is a special group for people doing A Year of Decluttering? Ask to join the group and share your decluttering progress!
Only if this doesn’t apply to you: Delete five bookmarked pages on your smartphone or computer.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.