What Happened When I Got Rid of My Daughter’s Toy Box

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I got rid of my daughter's toy box as a way to cut down on clutter. I thought she would hate it, but she loved it. Does your child have too many toys?

As I have continued to pare down my belongings in an attempt to create a minimalist home for my family, I have continuously avoided my toddler’s room. You would think that getting rid of my kid’s things would be easier than getting rid of my own, but kids are clutter magnets, and that made it hard for me to face her room.

I eventually tired of being the nagging mom who constantly asks for toys to be cleaned up, and then realized I had helped create this problem when I noticed that there was absolutely no blank wall space in my daughter’s room. There was something along every inch of her wall around the entire room. A bed, a dresser, a bookcase, a hamper, a desk, a rocker, a mini recliner, and a ridiculously big wicker toy box.

That’s way too much stuff in a kid’s room.

Part of the problem was my failure to get rid of things we have outgrown. We no longer need the rocker since she is now a preschooler, half of the books are baby books, and the toy box (surprisingly) rarely gets used.

I Got Rid of the Toy Box


I have one of those kids who loves to read and make crafts, so much so that she rarely cracks open that toy box of hers. She’s just not that into toys. I’m thankful that she can quietly entertain herself when I need some alone time and that she enjoys “reading” to herself even at the age of 3, and I need to nurture that part of her.

To help her continue to grow her imagination, I decided to pare down her toys to help her focus on what she actually loves to do. I started by going through her toy box several times to clean it out, but the toys and stuffed animals continued to build up after a few weeks, so we weren’t getting anywhere with it. Then I decided it was time to be honest about what my daughter actually enjoys doing, and I decided to get rid of the toy box completely.

How She Reacted


When my daughter first came into her room after I did the unspeakable, I was worried about what she would say. I thought she would panic and then throw a blow out temper tantrum big enough to make me cave. I thought she might even possibly pull an Elsa and just flat out run away.

What kind of evil mom gets rid of her child’s toy box???

Instead, she walked in, her eyes got huge, and she let out several “ooohs” and “ahhhs” and exclaimed, “Mommy, I love my bedroom!”

My jaw hit the floor.

I’m not sure she immediately noticed what was missing from her room, but she did notice the abundant clear space that would allow her to play, be more imaginative, and simply be a kid. It was a breath of fresh air for her and a relief to me.

Don’t Feel Sorry For My Kid


Before you start feeling sorry for my kid with so few toys, don’t worry. She still has access to all of her art supplies, two shelves of books, and the few toys she continuously plays with and enjoys. The toys are now contained in a basket in the bottom of her closet so when it eventually starts to spill out of her closet, we’ll know when it’s time to pare down again.

Since my daughter enjoys reading, being creative, and imagining, I’m going to focus on nurturing those qualities for her instead of continuously buying her toys that stifle them. When I do buy her toys, I’ll do so wisely – not only by looking for ways to save money on kids toys, but also by focusing on ‘fit’ over quantity. There is absolutely nothing wrong if your child loves toys, but mine doesn’t, so I wanted to create an atmosphere in her room that would better serve her needs.

I got rid of my daughter's toy box as a way to cut down on clutter. I thought she would hate it, but she loved it. Does your child have too many toys?

What Happens on Her Birthday?


My daughter’s fourth birthday is next month, and I will still throw her a party for family. I still let our family buy her toys because that’s how they show love, and I understand that. But when she stops playing with them, they are gone.

As for our gift to her, we like to give her experiences for her birthday. Last year, it was a train ride because she loves trains. This year? Maybe it’ll be a trip to the local children’s museum or the aquarium. We are going to let her decide what she wants to do when the time comes.

I had no idea that getting rid of her toy box would have such a positive effect, but I’m so glad I did it. The result, a month after the toy box went away, is a room that allows her to be herself. What more could a parent want?


Would you ever consider ditching your child’s toy box? What is your child’s room like? Is it packed to the gills or barren like the wild tundra? What kind of toys or activities did you enjoy as a child?

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Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog


  • Hannah says:

    This year we got our son a digger for his birthday, which he loves to pieces. Unfortunately, his favorite toys are blocks and lincoln logs (despite the fact that he can only build 2-3 logs high), so getting rid of the toy box is not an option right now. We have made a concerted effort to keep toys down to one rubbermaid to make cleaning and moving toys easy. This is a good compromise for now.

  • I am glad that my kids have fewer toys compared with other kids. But, they have more books. I think it’s due to how we raised them up and our preference to follow minimalism.

  • Kids need so much less than we think they do! I get rid of my kids toys all the time and they rarely miss them. Like your daughters, mine would rather do crafts. They do like puzzles and barbies, though, so I keep those in stock.

  • When my son turned 6, we pretty much purged his room and most of our house of lots of his toys, and he certainly didn’t feel like a deprived child. In fact, like your daughter, he actually appreciated the lack of clutter in his space and the ability to actually freely move around in his space without stepping on toys.

  • I love how your encouraging your daughter’s creativity, which is something many kids do not have nurtured when they are young. My girls are getting older now, so toys are no longer a big part of their lives. It’s actually somewhat strange because now I actually wouldn’t mind a little toy clutter! LOL! Love what you did and bet fewer kids would get upset than most parents imagine.

    • Thanks, Shannon. Luckily she is still young enough that I can get away with getting rid of so much without her realizing it yet. I’m going to have to work on getting her to help me declutter as she gets older so she learns to be that way on her own.

  • Great story. I’m surprised at how your daughter reacted, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. I think kids feel the “need” to make use of the toys they have, and it leads to clutter beyond just the physical space that the toys take up. Very cool to hear how decluttering worked out for you guys.

  • Dane Hinson says:

    I find that the toughest part about being frugal as a parent is all of the friends and family that buy a ridiculous amount of clothes and toys for birthdays, Christmas, etc. We’ve had to talk to our family about tempering toy gifts and focusing on the important things (529 plan).

  • My mom did try to get rid of some of my toys. I was inconsolable. I think she had to go back to the thrift store and get them back. At least, I assume she took them to a thrift store.

    Still, I think we definitely give kids too much stuff. I had a ton of stuffed animals. They were my main source of comfort — childhood was pretty tough for me — so I don’t really blame my parents for that. But they probably should have put their foot down at some point.

    I think experiences are a way better gift than stuff — even for kids more materialistically inclined than yours. The birthdays I remember were where we did something, like a party at a roller rink.

    These days, I pretty much tell my husband not to get me anything, which drives him crazy. I tell him I’d rather go do something, preferably juvenile, than add something that’ll probably end up being clutter.

    When my mom and MIL ask, I tell them gift cards would be nice. It helps me rationalize getting such pricey hair products, which is a lovely treat indeed.

  • My daughter is 8, so we let her choose what she wants to get rid of. There has to be an even stream of stuff in vs stuff out, so if she wants something new, we have to purge first. I’ve never had an issue by letting her decide.

  • JoAnn says:

    Similar situation as you – with two kids here. We purge on a regular basis thanks to overly generous family and friends. The one thing I’ve started to do now that my kids are 6 and 5 is to go to the library and borrow books and movies. My kids rooms look like libraries themselves – a book shelf and reading chair for each of them – cute, but equally and as often used for building forts in the middle of the living room along with a king size sheet specifically for fort building. So, we are getting rid of it all and since they don’t get to watch TV during the school week, the trip to the library once a week to pick out books and movies (for the weekend) is very exciting for them. The side bonus is they learn how the library works and we do homework first (or they get no books or movies).

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