I nearly lost my cool with the toy situation in my house.

A few weeks ago, my 5-year-old son dumped his entire toy box out onto the floor of his room. Sam was trying to find something. It wasn’t the first time this happened nor was it the first time I told him to put it all back. But the ensuing attitude and tears of misery finally pushed me to say, “Enough is enough.”

I’m all for my kids having toys. On their birthdays, you won’t hear me saying “absolutely no toys” when family asks for gift ideas.

I’m not a monster.

But I have been lazy about going through my kids’ toys every once in awhile. Very lazy. We’ve simply let them pile up until toys quite literally spilled out of the toy box — well, multiple toy boxes — and into every other part of my house.

So on a recent Saturday, I finally sat down in Sam’s room and announced we were going through and saying bye to some toys. It was time.

My resolve was tested when the tears came back, but I calmed Sam down and reassured him that, no, we were not getting rid of too many toys (as much as my minimalist-wannabe self wanted to). But we would be culling the pile a bit.

We emptied all the toys out into the middle of the room and started separating. Into the “bye-bye pile” — as I affectionately called it — went the toys no one plays with, the cheap plastic McDonald’s toys and the pieces with broken or missing parts. From there we decided what we’d donate and what we’d throw away.

I really should have done this on a day when my kids weren’t around, because it is super hard to try to go through stuff when your kids are pulling things back out and saying stuff like, “I’ve been looking for this forever!” or “I can’t believe I have this!” But I wanted them to participate both to help out and to learn that it’s OK to let go of things.

Some of it was a fight. “No, we cannot keep the McDonald’s Luigi figure. It doesn’t even have the cannon he shoots out of.” “No, this Slinky is twisted beyond repair.”

In the end we managed to come up with a big box of things to donate, a big bag of trash and, thankfully, no more tears.

Both Sam and his 2-year-old brother, Elliott, were off playing with long-lost toys they’d reunited with.

I ordered a toy organizer from Amazon, and when it came that weekend, I immediately began organizing.

All the “Ghostbuster” toys went in one bin. Dinosaurs went in another. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys got their own spot. Marvel toys went in two bins. Batman toys went in another. And on and on until almost all of the 16 tubs were filled.

We even taped logos and labels to each bin so that both boys — yes, I expect Elliott to help, too! — know exactly where everything goes. We’ve also started carving out 20 minutes each night before bed to put away the toys we played with that day.

So far, so good. Since the great reorganization of 2019, things have been a little cleaner. My husband has stepped on fewer sharp pieces of plastic.

I’m hoping — and praying — this new system will stick. I know they’re young, but I want to get them familiar with the idea of being organized and cleaning up after themselves. Not only does it feel good to stay organized and have a clean living space, but if they want to play with a specific toy — it’s right there!

And no more dumping out an entire toy box again. Ever.

Ashlee Coffey is the editor of momaha.com. She is married with two sons — Sam and Elliott. Follow her on Twitter @AshleeCoffeyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1075.

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