To say my children have a lot of toys is the world’s biggest understatement. Two bedrooms overflowing, as well as a play area complete with dolls house and play kitchen. It’s madness.
What’s even crazier is that when we moved six months ago I gave away or sold boxes and boxes of toys. Yet I feel that hardly put a dint into the amount they have. And of course, more has been added since then thanks to gifts, birthday money and hand-me downs.
But the clincher is that they hardly play with any of it. I could list on one hand the toys my eight and ten year old boys actually use. My three year old daughter is only marginally better, although she is starting to grow into some of her brothers’ off casts.
Meanwhile, the clutter drives me absolutely bonkers. Cupboards are stuffed to capacity and I’m always looking for new storage ideas. I’ve decided enough is enough.
I’ll be culling the majority of the boys’ stuff, keeping Lego and construction toys (mobilo and magna tiles) and their remote control cars. I’ll be more lenient with my daughter’s room, leaving her with some shopping/kitchen toys, dolls accessories and dress ups, but there are a lot of little bits and pieces that can go. Obviously things like puzzles, board games, softies and sports equipment will get an overhaul but not eliminated all together.
There will be tears and I admit to be as bad at letting go of things as they are, but the benefits of kids having fewer toys are well documented.
- Kids learn to use their imagination. Less is more. I find this already with the toys they actually do play with. All three will play intricate games for ages with plain Lego pieces or matchbox cars without all the superfluous playsets and accessories. And one of my daughter’s favourite playthings is an empty laundry basket that on any given day is a car, a boat or a bus for her and her favourite doll.
- Kids develop more focus. There are fewer distractions and without something else too move on to, they will play with one item for longer. Small children in particular can feel overwhelmed by too many toys, as they don’t know where to start.
- Kids respect what they have. This is a huge thing for me. We live in such a throw away society which is not good for our environment, our pockets or our mindsets. Taking care of their possessions and valuing what they are fortunate enough to have is a very important lesson for children.
- Kids learn to share and be more social. With less stuff to go around, they learn to work together and become less territorial about all the things. This helps build communication and negotiation skills too.
- Kids get outside. With less to do inside children are more inclined to go outside to find entertainment. Nature in itself is a great plaything, with trees to climb, grassy hills to roll down and dirt to dig in.
- Its easier for them to look after their belongings and keep things tidy. I don’t blame my kids for having a messy room because some of their stuff doesn’t even have a place to go. Less clutter and more order is healthier for everyone.
I think it’s important to explain these reasons to my children and I will get them involved in the culling process. Money from anything we sell can be used to buy something the whole family can enjoy, like a new board game or something for the yard. However, we will donate the bulk of the items to charity so they get the trade off of knowing they are helping someone else.
As a parent I clearly fell into the trap of wanting my kids to have the world, but I really think to give them the world, I need to give them less stuff.
Do you think your children have too many things or do you think it would be cruel to get rid of their toys?