31 Days of Decluttering, Day One: Toy Storage

Toy Closet Before & AfterHappy New Year!

It’s January 1st and that means it’s the first day of my 31 Days of Decluttering. I woke up this morning at 6:45 (why didn’t I turn off my alarm last night?!) and thought, “Well, there’s no time like the present.”

I headed upstairs, where I was immediately greeted by…

The toy closet. The schtuff was pushing its way out the door to the point that I couldn’t even close it. It’s like that closet reached out and said, “Mara! Pleeeeeeease, declutter me.”

Who am I to deny a closet?!

Let me take a step back and say that we have been blessed by a house with a ridiculous amount of storage space. There are more closets in this house than I’ve ever had in any house in my life — probably in any two houses combined. (Of course, the only room with slightly less than ideal storage is the master bedroom.)

An abundance of closets is a good thing. But for clutter-magnet families, it can also be a dangerous thing. Because it means that I can shove stuff in there and then fool myself — and anyone else — into thinking that I have a clean house. 😉

Turns out my brilliant children have also figured out this “trick”. You see, upstairs are two bedrooms (my boys share a room and my daughter has her own room) plus a third open space, which is their play/hangout/homework room. We call it the common room. (We’re fancy like that.)

The common room has a walk-in closet. With a built in bookshelf. I know. I told you we were blessed with storage space.

But there’s a dark side to all this storage. You see, when I tell the kids to “please go clean up the common room,” guess what they do? Yup – they dump everything (include granola bar wrappers!) into the closet and slam the door shut. It took me a few weeks to catch on to their devious ways.

Of course, part of the blame is my own. When we moved in, we immediately set up that walk-in closet as storage for our kids’ toys & games. But I made the mistake (some might say fatal error) of putting all the arts & crafts supplies in there, too. Word to the wise: Five year-olds should not have unfettered access to markers, scissors, glue and glitter. You can thank me for that little tip when your house doesn’t like like a preschool class threw up all over it.

I started like I always start when I’m decluttering: I completely cleared the space. I took every last item of the closet, dumped it on the floor and started to sort through it. (I should have taken a picture. It was mountainous.)

Broken and half-missing items got tossed in the garbage. All those art supplies went into a separate pile, which I tackled last – since I’d already decide that much of them wouldn’t go back into the closet. I tossed all the costumes back into the costume tub, but not before I pulled out the two that have been outgrown since this summer — when I last did this — and added them to our donation pile.

The process went faster than I would have thought. I think everything but the art supplies took me half an hour. I spent another 20 minutes sorting thru all the crayons, markers, coloring books, etc. I put all the crayons into a plastic shoebox with a lid- and left that in the toy closet. I also put the coloring books and construction paper back into the closet. The scissors, glue, glitter and markers — you know, the dangerous stuff 😉 — were moved downstairs to my office. My daughter can still have them, but she won’t have free reign.

Then I disposed of the trash and the recycling, re-homed a few items that belonged in the kids’ bedrooms rather than the game closet, and headed to my computer to write this post. Here’s hoping every day of these 31 Days of Decluttering goes this smoothly.

Public accountability helps, my friends. So please: Leave a comment below and let us know what you have decluttered today!

31 Days of Decluttering

Do you, too, feel the need to get a handle on your house? Join me for the 31 Days of Decluttering challenge! Maybe you’re willing to take on one project a day (remember: small ones count!). Perhaps you’d rather pick four projects, and give yourself a week to work on each of one. Maybe you just want to tackle your basement for once and for all. It’s all good! Everyone is welcome to join.


  1. Congrats on this first project. The toy closet is the toughest to declutter. I’m looking forward to this series! I could use some inspiration on this front. 🙂

  2. Great way to start January 1st! One of the things I need to learn is not to buy containers to organize before I know what I’ll be using them for….maybe you can shed light on that as you go 🙂

    • Yes! We have a lot of baskets/tubs that we used at one point, but don’t use anymore. Even if everything isn’t always matchy-matchy, that’s what I go with. By the way, if you don’t have any of them lying around unused, you can try containerizing in ziploc bags or old shoe boxes until you figure out what you really need!

  3. Great post! Been meaning to organize my kids toys for a while but one thing I’m sorely lacking in is closet space. How do you store toys? Like Lincoln logs, Legos, cliks, magnatiles… I’m finding the toy boxes don’t work for too long. Open buckets? Containers with lids? Suggestions?

    • Mara Strom says

      I’ve done it different ways at different times. I had a very inexpensive 9-cubby book shelf from Target in our last house, and we got open fabric bins for that. Inside were the type of toys you mentioned.

      As my kids get older they play with that stuff less and less. I actually got rid of our Lincoln Logs and Legos before our move (the horror, I know). The few toys with parts that we have are now stored in bins with lids – that includes a wooden marble run, a wooden train set, the Hess trucks, and the Magnatiles. These are all toys that I will save for grandchildren to one day play with, G-d willing (and in the meantime, they’re great for younger kiddos who come for Shabbat meals).

      Hope that helps in some way!

  4. I didn’t exactly declutter anything yesterday, but I did take care of something that I’ve been pushing off for almost 2 weeks. I’m counting it 🙂

  5. I have decluttered 80% of my home desk. I had a goal in mind and if I was achieving it, I was buying myself a new keyboard and mouse! I did it! Very good feeling! Thanks Mara for your inspiration. Shabbat Shalom

  6. Norine Gerson says

    I left my comments above, perhaps in the wrong place. Love your posts. Shabbat Shalom!!

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