Spring Cleaning: Purging Toys for Week 1 of the Simple Mom Challenge

Spring Cleaning: Purging Toys for Week 1 of the Simple Mom Challenge


Legos, puzzles, half-chewed Jenga blocks, stuffed animals, doll houses, crayons, activity books, action figures, naked Barbies, card games, dinosaurs, purses, dress up clothes, Polly Pocket, baby bottles, thousands of Playmobil pieces, Matchbox cars, paint, stamps...

Pulling out the mass of toys from our disheveled hall closet was a little overwhelming. With a sudden urge to drag the gizmos, dolls, and nicknacks to the back yard and start the pile on fire, I swallowed back my fear of embarking on this colossal task and began to sort.

As I sat on the floor, I daydreamed about an organized toy closet with bright colored bins and creative handmade labels identifying the treasures of each container. Three cheerful hooks lined the doors of my imaginary closet and on each of them purses, capes, and Star Wars masks. Above the hooks, a classic black and white picture of each child...

I was awakened from my tidy daydream by the shrill of my 3-year-old daughter, Anne:

“Don’t throw away my Moon Sand!”

Busted! I forgot the cardinal rule of parenting: You must be sneaky when you are throwing away your kids’ toys or donating them to Goodwill. (Donating the toys to Goodwill, not your children...)

I distracted Anne with one of her “special bags” and tackled the Simple Mom: Project Simplify challenge on my own. Tempted to sink back into my efficient daydream, I realized I was the one organizing my closet, not the Martha Stewart Design Team.

Do I sound like a lazy, unimaginative, less than crafty mother?

Well, the object of this challenge was to make my life a little easier, not create a bigger project. So I decided to think like a kid.

My kid.

We love reading around here, daily grabbing a giant stack of books and plopping ourselves on the couch to read. I sorted the books by size so little arms would have no problem grabbing a mini stack of reading material. I noticed some of the books were ridiculously large and did not fit on the shelf, so I tucked them next to the bookshelf.


I have no extra cash this month, so buying new containers was out of the question. I did find some bins which were barely being used in my daughter's closet.  These large and bright polka dot square boxes would now store toys and games that have no container. (Just an aside... Game companies who manufacture kids’ games and do not provide a box for all the loose pieces just lost my business.) I threw away, donated or consolidated the existing toys in the polka dot bins resulting in less clutter in my daughter's closet! YEAH!


I designated the top shelf of the small shelving unit to my 5-year-old and the second shelf to the 3-year-old. I momentarily thought about fashioning fancy labels to stick on the bins but was distracted by my 2-month-old spitting up on my back.

As I stepped back to look at my progress, I found myself cringing at the sight of empty space on the shelves. A sense of urgency swept over me:

"I must run to Target and purchase a few extra containers! I cannot leave a bare spot in my cupboard!"


Instantly I realized my thoughts were foolish and reasoned in a matter of months baby Gertrude’s toys would be strewn about the house - all in need of a place on the shelf...

Did you take the challenge? Post your before and after pictures on our Facebook page!


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  • Well done! The closet looks great, and I am very impressed that you resisted the temptation to buy all new bins, etc. I always seem to fall into that trap. You've inspired me to tackle our playroom this weekend!

  • Great Job! I hope it stays this clean forever!

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