I hid my kids' toys for three months and here's what happened...
Nothing, that's what happened! They didn't even notice!
Before Christmas this year, I decided to conduct a toy experiment. I put two boxes of my four year old and six year old's toys in a locked closet in our basement, just to see if they would notice them missing. They didn't! Well, that's not entirely true - about a month in, my four year old son asked for one toy truck. It's been almost three months since the start of the experiment and that's all either one has asked for.
If my littles haven't asked for these things in three months, I'm pretty sure I'm safe to re-home these toys to children who will love them and use them. I know some of you out there would say I should ask my children before I re-home their stuff. I just don't think my children are old enough yet to declutter. If I asked them, they would say they wanted to keep each and every item. At this age and stage, this "hide it for a long time and see if they ask for it" strategy likely works best for me. But you do you.
All that said, I fully intended to be strong and not look through the boxes at all. I was just going to march down to the basement, bag up the toys and take them out for donation. But I just couldn't do it! I was worried I would end up tossing something I would regret later. So, despite being disappointed with my own weakness, I went through the stuff, even though we hadn't used it in three months, "just in case"! Ugh!
For the most part, I used the do they "need it, use it, love it (NUL)" test. Now it's true, if the kids hadn't used these toys in three months, they didn't "need, use or love" any of them. But some of the parts were companions to other toys they were using. So, I kept those and the ukulele (which isn't tuned, but who has a tuned ukulele really!) and some doll clothes, which Mila doesn't use now, but I thought she might when she gets older. Below is the much smaller pile that I ended up keeping.
So what did I learn from my three month long toy experiment?
I'll likely never be a true minimalist and that's ok!
It's hard to purge, even for me, and I hate clutter and love organizing.
We have too many of the same type of toys (more little plush animals and toy trucks we do not need).
I feel kind of guilty/sad about unnecessary excess. We have so much, while others have so little. But that's a bigger topic for another day.
Overall, I consider this experiment a success - I got rid of a lot of toy clutter. However, what I'll consider true success is not having to do this ever again. I hope I'll learn my lesson and keep the toy surge at a minimum this year, so this isn't necessary pre-Christmas next year. Let's see what happens, I'll let you know.
And let me know if you do your own toy clutter experiment. I'd love to hear about your strategies to keep toy clutter at bay.
As always, happy organizing.