“If it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it,”  says Marie Kondo.

Well, Marie, my kids’ collection of cheap Kinder Surprise toys, Disney tiles and talking robots (that no longer talk) DO NOT spark even a lick of joy.

But my kids seem to still like them. So, what’s a mumma to do?  Should I throw their toys out and find my joy? Or let the toy clutter (and dust) continue to grow and keep the kids from cracking the sh*ts?

preschooler crying

Can’t I have both?

Yes, yes, you can. But you have to be sneaky about it. Because kids hate throwing their stuff away, even their broken, cheap, dirty, plastic crappy stuff. So here’s what you need to do:

Organise While You Cull 

A little organisation goes a long way, especially when it comes to toys. Invest in a toy storage system that works for you – baskets, buckets, containers, hampers – all of these items are great for toy storage and will ensure each toy has a home. If the kids know where they go, they may (operative word here is MAY) actually start putting them away.

If you find that there are toys that don’t really have a home and are never played with, then it’s time to bin them or donate them. Check out our article on toy storage for common kids’ toy collections for more ideas.

Sweep in After Dark

Wait until after the kids go to bed or send them out with dad or a relative and do a major bedroom/playroom toy cull. Make sure you remove all evidence of the cull before they get home too.

I recently threw out a collection of drawings my daughter brought home from school (including one of Jesus – she goes to a Catholic school). But I made the mistake of not emptying the rubbish bin. Of course, she went through the bin, found the drawings and promptly cried out, “Mum, why did you throw Jesus in the bin?”. 

Jesus left the bin and was hung back up on the fridge. So, ladies and gents, the moral of the story? Dump before they get home. And, if the kids later question where their crappy toy/old t-shirt/weird drawing of Jesus went, play dumb. Eventually, they will stop looking for it…


Play on the Act of Kindness

Many toys will still have some life left in them after your child grows out of them. Toy donation is a great idea and can help teach your children about donating their older toys to those who aren’t as fortunate. Explain how toy donation works and what their good deed means to other kids and they may be more inclined to part with their toys.

how to cull kids toys, toy donation

Set a 30-Minute Toy Cull Timer 

Best way to get rid of toys is to get the kids involved. Every month, set a timer for 30 minutes and get the entire family to choose an area to cull. Give each child a bucket and let them pick what goes. While the kids are doing their rooms, you can do the pantry/the kitchen cupboards/your own dressers, etc. Put on some music to keep the rhythm going.

declutter toys

Bribe them with Donuts 

What happens if the kids are told to cull and they return empty-handed? Bribe them, of course. If they can find three items that can go, then they can get a treat. Preferably not another toy. And certainly not another crappy Kinder Surprise toy…

PIle of toys, toy stash, culling toys

Don’t Care if They Cry? Try This Trick!

If you’re not too fussed on watching the waterworks flow, then check out this mum’s very efficient way to keep control of the toy clutter. Known as the “fucket bucket cleaning hack”, it’s definitely worth a try if you’re sick of constantly stepping on LEGOS and cleaning up barbie doll shoes.

Every child gets a different coloured bucket. If the kids leave their toys lying around during the day, it goes in the bucket. If it’s still there by bedtime, it goes to the bin.

Because, as Jessica (the mum who coined the term), so eloquently puts it, “Fucket if I’m cleaning it up.” Amen.

fuckit bucket

More Toy Cleaning Tips

If you are looking for ways to not just cull kids’ toys, but also clean them, have a look at our previous articles on toy storage and cleaning toys.


Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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