Getting rid of toys is a challenging and delicate job. It’s difficult to know today which toys your child will miss in adulthood. If I could have any of my old toys back, I’d choose my Strawberry Shortcake figure, my plush E.T. and my Rainbow Brite doll. (I kept my Cabbage Patch Kids and Curious George plush, and no, I don’t miss my Care Bears.) Sure, I could buy a vintage Strawberry Shortcake figure, but it wouldn’t be the same as my very own!

Even with the risk of future regrets, don’t put off culling through your child’s toys before Christmas. You’ll be glad you did it. There are many reasons to declutter a kid’s bedroom before the holidays. The most obvious reason: to free up space before the gifts arrive! Another reason is to help children learn about giving by making a donation pile for gently used, yet unwanted toys and games. But perhaps the best reason of all is your sanity. Some organization now means you can spend the day after Christmas enjoying your new <insert dream gift> instead of trying to figure out how to fit your kid’s Christmas gifts into her room!

Now that we’ve established some motivation for organizing now rather than later, let’s drown that inevitable procrastination. One reason tasks are put off is that they can seem overwhelming. With a plan, you can get started without dread.

Plan to Tackle the Kid’s Room

  • Free up your day in advance so you can take your time.
  • Start with a relaxed attitude and rested body.
  • Tackle only one kid’s room a day. (Repeat for other rooms!)
  • Play some Christmas music for fun.
  • Involve the kids, and set goals on number of items to donate.
  • Be picky about what you store, and set limits for yourself.
  • Get your bags or boxes ready and label them: toss, donate or store.
  • Wait on buying storage containers until you know exactly what you need.
  • Enlist the help of your child with organizing remaining items.

Items to Toss

(Tip: Leave your guilt behind.)

  • Party favors
  • Tacky souvenirs (sorry wind-up Lady Liberty)
  • Cereal box toys
  • Dirty stuffed animals unless you can wash them
  • Damaged toys
  • Board games with missing pieces
  • Anything the dog ever peed on
  • Original packaging (unless you plan on returning or selling)

Items to Store

(Tip: Be sure to remove batteries, especially if you can still use them!)

  • First doll or Barbie
  • Custom dollhouses
  • Favorite Hot Wheels
  • Most beloved action figures
  • Most adored bedtime book
  • Year’s best art project
  • Collector’s items
  • Posters of Justin Bieber

Items to Donate

(Tip: If it’s missing fingers or hair, toss!)

  • Gently used toys that haven’t been played with in three months
  • Duplicate toys
  • Unstained clothing or bedding
  • Outgrown children’s furniture
  • Books with all their pages
  • Halloween costumes
  • Dolls that give you the creeps (hey, someone might love them)

For the Indecisive

When it comes to toys, it may be better to store than have regrets later. If you’re worried your daughter might cry for that space-hogging Barbie Dreamhouse later, store it for two months without telling her. If she doesn’t miss it, donate it!

As for those handmade treasures and art projects from school, don’t keep them all. If you find yourself having trouble letting go, check out Angelina’s post on Stitch and Boots and get more realistic about those items you or your kid will actually want later on!

Teach Some Organization

Once you know what you’re keeping in the room or storing, go buy your storage containers in one trip! Then, encourage your child to decide how toys should be grouped together and organized. (That is, unless your little boy is only 2 years old!)

After your child’s room is decluttered, make a plan to keep it that way. Start by explaining the importance of storing things in their proper place. It’s easier to play when kids don’t have to spend 10 minutes looking for a “lost” toy! Help your child appreciate an uncluttered room, and reinforce the value of donating toys to others.

Finally, Pick a Day

If your child is helping, you’re limited to a school holiday or a weekend. If not, take a day off work to tackle the project, and then go for frozen yogurt when it’s done! Whenever you do it, make sure you have plenty of free time with no looming appointments. In other words, make a day of it and have fun.

How often do you clean out your kid’s room? Are there any toys from your childhood you regret tossing?