Noah’s Plushie Purge

Noah really blew me away today. We’ve been working on decluttering around here which, as many fellow declutterers (not a word; so don’t care.) know, is a project that is never really done. Noah’s toys have really gotten out of hand though and it’s only more obvious now that he has his own room. We bought more storage for him and still don’t have enough places to put all of his toys!

(Maggie’s crate is actually where the pack-n-play is in this picture because neither Maggie or Noah liked sleeping without the other one.)

This picture was actually taken before all of the toys made it from the living room to his room so believe it or not, he has more than this.

So today, I went in his room with him and I said it was time to start getting rid of toys. We’ve been talking about kids who don’t have toys or don’t have many and also just about how easier it is to not be frustrated all of the time when you don’t have as many toys to pick up. I know it overwhelms *me* and I’m an adult!

At first it was very slow going. My concentration today was on stuffed animals because they can take up the most room and they’re a good starting point to get you in the groove, so to speak. Like books, they can be hard to declutter because of sentimental attachment but they are often easy to replace and, even if not, are more likely to show their age.

I gave him a few free passes: Bananas the Monkey (his big brother animal we just made at Build-a-Bear), Buddy Bear (from when I was pregnant), his mama/baby elephant set (“us”, because he is my baby elephant), and the two that Olivia has a match of. There were also a couple that I took back into my own personal collection (which is very small) so he’ll still technically get to play with them.

My original goal was 20 small stuffed animals and 5 large ones. I figured we’d get to those numbers and re-evaluate because I wasn’t sure how many he owned or how many stuffed animals 20 would be (other than, you know, 20). We went through every one, and I would give him scenarios like, if that particular plushie was destroyed, would he want to replace it or say “oh, it’s okay, I have plenty more”. On some it was a definite “I would want it back SO much, Mama” and on others, he surprised me by saying “oh, it would be okay, it can go”.

This activity got him going, but he started to drag his feet (who wants to think about their stuff getting messed up over and over?) so we switched tactics. I grabbed ones I knew he loved to play with and compared it with the ones I was sure he wasn’t too crazy about. That got us through quite a bit and then I switched to picking some up and saying “Can this go? No? Then pick something to go for this to stay.” and, honestly, it worked for us. It may not work for all kids but he “got” it. I would make a suggestion, he didn’t like my suggestion and then he would look through his pile until he found something that could go.

Near the end, I could tell it was getting really hard for him so we called it quits and kept the rest. Noah was genuinely trying, though. He would touch every plushie still left in the pile, think about them, play with them for a second to see if he was still interested and then he would make a decision. When he could no longer choose between one or the other, I figured he had done very well.

The final count? 41 smalls (3 free passes and a “collection” of Angry Bird-related plushies) and 9 large ones (4 free passes). I realize that this is double my original goal but, believe it or not, it was about HALF of his original number.

I was really surprised by some of his choices. He said Blue the Puppy could go because he didn’t have a Steve or a Joe. (I’ll be saving Blue for Olivia before she gets harder to find, though.) He decided to give away Perry the Platypus because he can’t easily switch him from Perry to Agent P without help. Henry the Octopus went because his pleather? shoes were peeling. I thought those were very sound reasonings and they are only a few examples! Some of the choices had me biting my lip because *I* wanted him to keep them but this was about him and what he wanted to play with. It was very hard to do that! I’m a bit of a control freak. There are a couple that I question and will be stashing in the closet for now, like Tigger and Eeyore, who he asks to sleep with often.

In the end, I think today’s project was a success. We’ll declutter his stuffed toys more as we go on, I’m sure. We don’t typically buy him any and he doesn’t usually ask for any, so they’ll go as he stops playing with them or as their partners disappear or as they just plain get worn down. I’m hoping that he learned a few things today that will have him bringing some to me in the future with a reason for him not to keep them but, considering that he’s four, I’m not expecting that to happen.

We did make a small dent in his actual toys, but I needed a break and said we’d pick it back up tomorrow. I think Noah is just as excited as I am to go through his toys and purge because he seemed much happier when he looked at his stuffed collection. Of course he doesn’t want to get rid of anything but that’s part of being human. I don’t think either of us could give you a full list of what made it into that pile, to tell you the truth. I think that’s pretty telling.

  • Colleen

    Well done Lynn, teaching your little one to let go of things he no longer cares too much about. They should always get a choice in what stays and what goes when it comes to their stuff because just removing it without their approval could cause big problems later on. All parents should teach their kids this same lesson so as they grow into adults they will find it easy to stay uncluttered.

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