The Various Stages of Throwing Out Your Kids Old Toys


Something magical happens when you become a parent. You suddenly realize that important things – shoes, keys, phones, remote controls, etc. – go missing only to stay that way for hours, days, weeks. You also realize that things that have absolutely no importance in the world – McDonald’s toys – multiply by 1000 overnight. Every night. I don’t know how this happens, why this happens or what any of us did to deserve this kind of personal hell we call children’s toys.

Before kids, our homes were chic and stylish. They were always spotless and we owned things in a shade known as white – now more frequently referred to as a shade of filth and dirt. We would not let our husband’s decorate with things that they thought were hilarious because they were not our style. Suddenly this human the size of your arm comes into the world in the most disgusting way possible and we allow that tiny human – without words, movement or any power whatsoever – to turn our homes into toy stores filled with loud, brash, shiny and obnoxious items.

At first we love them. We have a baby!!! We have baby stuff!!! We are parents!!! And then one day we realize, oh, we have baby stuff. Can we get rid of baby stuff? This usually happens at some point around baby number two arriving into the family. Unlike baby number one, who was your pride and joy and you would spare no dollar on, baby number two is equally as special in your heart but definitely nowhere near as important in your bank account. Baby number two will use hand-me-downs, the same exersaucer your first and your three nephews all used at this age, and will very likely eat a number of things off the floor while you look on and think, “Well, it was a McDonald’s French fry and I’ve seen the pictures online that they don’t mold – ever – so he will be fine,” and then you will realize that your parent of the year trophy  might be delayed a year – again.

But it’s cool. Because this time around, you’re more efficient and you have less tolerance for crap that grows overnight (Read – toys that make noise, do weird things and end up under your bare foot at the most inconvenient times) and that is when you will clean out your child’s toys. I’m sorry to tell you that this is a process that seems easy, but it is not. There is an entire stage. And it goes a bit like this.

Stage 1


You just stepped on yet another miniature Barbie tiara and you are ready to rip her perfectly painted face right off her shoulders (but your kids have already done this for you). That’s it! You are getting rid of some of this crap while they are at school. This is ridiculous. I mean, really, who has this much stuff anyway. Spoiled. Rotten, probably. Definitely not something you’re putting up with anymore (you mumble all this to yourself, out loud, while hunting down a fresh trash bag to take into the playroom with your fury and anger).


There’s a smirk on your face, a swagger in your walk, shoulders back – you win. You are the mother and you will handle this issue. These toys – they’re out. Trash, donation, whatever their condition; they are O.U.T.

Overwhelming Anxiety

Where did all this stuff even come from? Maybe I’ll just go through that one bin. There’s so much stuff.


Well, I can’t do half of it and leave the other half until later. I started this thankless job, now I have to finish it. Crap. I wanted to do something productive with my day while the baby is napping.

Emotional Upheaval

Oh, I cannot throw this away. It’s the first toy that so-and-so gave my baby. I can’t throw this toy away, either. It’s the one that we got at the McDonald’s in Jamaica waiting on our flight when the one person said she’s the cutest baby ever. There’s so much sentimental attachment here. Oh, the memories.


I’ve been in her for HOW LONG?! And this is all I’ve gotten accomplished.


I cannot believe I just spent 8 hours walking down memory lane in a box of half broken, annoying toys. That’s it; everything is going in the trash right now. All of it. Except for that. That was pretty expensive. Oh, and that. I like that one. Oh, and that one, because it’s her favorite. Everything else, though, it’s out.

Stage 2

Success and Accomplishment

You’re done. You’ve done it. You’ve filled 3 trash bags and donation boxes and the playroom is pretty clean. There’s still entirely too much stuff in there, but for now you have done your job. You put these items somewhere safe – out of the way of the kids for you know what will happen should they notice their precious toys sitting next to the trash can.


The kids are home from school. You find yourself forcing normalcy into your voice and your actions, hoping and praying to God that your kids do not notice that you are different. They’re going to notice. Omg. They’re going to notice.


The kids are going into the playroom. You can’t even breathe. They’re going to notice.

Hesitant Relaxation

They’ve been in the playroom a while now, and no one has lost their mind. Awesome. They haven’t noticed that the room is cleaned, organized and missing many of their toys. You’ve done it well supermom.

Guilt and Anxiety

They’ve noticed, and now they want to know where that one toy is. You know where it is, but you cannot tell them. You make up lies. You’re a liar. You are a coward and you are weak. You are lying to your kids about the location of their toys and promising you will join in on their fruitless search for whatever object has gone missing (in the trash bag in the garage).

Stage 3


You have not found the toy that they think is missing and you feel bad, but then you remembered that you are married to your kids’ father. And that means one thing; he’s not home so you place the blame on him. The kids are over their upset, furious with daddy and he has no idea what’s going to hit him when he walks through the door. And you don’t care because you have every intention of meeting him in the garage while opening the driver side of your own car to make a solo trip to the store for that thing you forgot earlier.

You win.

Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images


Leave a Reply