This Is How I Downsized My Kids’ Toy Box Without Them Completely Freaking Out

Learned from actual ninjas.

by Chris Lynam
Originally Published: 
toy collection

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How do you downsize your kids’ toy collection when you have too many?

Surgically. A mass toy exodus can lead to an uprising that just make you feel guilty enough to replace the missing toys … with interest.

The Evaporating Toy Chest

Right in front of me, with the personal care and empathy of a carpet bombing run, my grandmother would tear through my toy chest.

“CRAP!” she’s say, and toss something into a bag.

I’d object, but it was useless.

She was recreating the scene from Empire Strikes Back where Yoda rummages through Luke’s supplies, and tosses them aside. In both cases, you don’t mess with a small Jedi master tossing your things aside.

Flickr (Andrew Malone)

Our Ninja Solution

After years of regret and anguish thinking of all my old Star Wars and GI Joe action figures sitting in some landfill, as parents — my wife and I took a different approach. A stealthy, surgical, ninja approach. Here are some of our best toy purging tips:

  1. Use large plastic tubs for common items: Thomas the tank engine tracks, stuffed animals, dolls, etc. and rotate a bin into your play area, and move the other bins to an undisclosed location. This makes “permanent solutions” much easier because there isn’t any option for object permanence.
  2. Toss the actual crap: Things like Happy Meal toys, incomplete board games, and small accessories for dolls they don’t play with are easy options. Anything a dog has chewed, your kids have chewed, or your neighbors kids chewed should get the axe.
  3. Keep Quiet: A ninja doesn’t use snappy dialogue right before they strike. They strike in the shadows. So keep your toy elimination quiet. Don’t use threats or warnings. Keep it quiet and perform your toy execution discreetly. It’s the ninja way.
  4. Go Amish: Not as a lifestyle, but this means upgrading to wooden, handmade, or just better quality toys that will endure and you’ll have less #2. A few years ago Santa brought this marble run to our house. Apparently, he purchased it on Etsy, from a group of woodworking Amish people (no joke — look up Rustic Toy Barn), that we refer to as “Santa’s helpers.” It has survived every Toy Purge we’ve performed over the last few years. It has been the corner post of a tent, part of a nerf gun bunker, or an incredible marble run that our kids will sit in front of for a solid hour.

Toys can occupy time, connect kids together, and, hopefully, teach them something. There will be some that should come and go. Not every toy will make it into your eventual grandkids’ toy-chest.

But if one can survive a year with 3 kids under the age of 6 — you’re well on your way.

Chris Lynam is a father of 3, and the creator of #DADventure. He writes about parenting, relationships, and fitness. You can read more from Quora here:

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