As parents, we all know how quickly toy clutter can take over our homes. It starts innocently enough – we want to make our kids happy and provide them with endless entertainment. But before we know it, we find ourselves standing knee-deep in discarded Legos and naked Barbie dolls. The kids are bored, the house is a mess, and no one is happy. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
But what if I were to tell you that by reducing the amount of toys, your kids will play longer, deeper, and use more of their imaginations? Experts agree that the too-many-toys syndrome isn’t just about the aesthetics of domestic order. It can have negative effects on kids’ developing psyches. For toddlers and preschoolers, an overload of playthings can be overwhelming and distracting. They pick up one toy, drop it, and move on quickly. They can’t focus on using any of their toys to the fullest. Toy overload can lead kids to think that everything is replaceable and nothing is valuable. They don’t learn to appreciate their possessions or feel a responsibility to care for them.
Research shows that kids today own an average of 238 toys, but play with less than 5% of them. When the number of toys is greatly reduced and geared towards open-ended toys, they hold greater play value as the child is free to use their imagination for endless play possibilities.
Tips to minimize toy clutter:
- Discard anything that is broken or missing pieces. Check plastics for chasing arrows and numbers. These numbers indicate what can and cannot be recycled.
- Donate toys that are no longer age appropriate.
- Purge the excess. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you may want to declutter alone, but if you think they can understand the process, it’s best to involve them. When children are a part of the cutting back and donating, they obtain a deeper understanding of what they truly love, criteria that makes a toy fun or important to keep, and the empathy connected with donating to others who may not have much. They’ll also gain an appreciation for the toys they’ve decided to keep. Whether your kids are involved or not, start by placing a box of your children’s least favorite toys in a storage area of your home (out of sight) for a month or two. If your child asks for a particular toy during that time, it’s still an important play tool and can be retrieved. Odds are, however, out of sight will mean out of mind and those toys can be donated.
- Don’t keep toys for other people’s sake. Retire anything that your child isn’t actively interested in – no matter who gave it to them. If it is a sentimental item then parents or the person its sentimental for should store it elsewhere.
- Keep the toys that are favorites, those that will grow with your child, and those that will foster imaginative play. Battery operated toys tend to be used more literally and aren’t as beneficial. Toys that sing, talk, dance, light up, do the playing for our kids. Kids become passive observers with these types of toys as opposed to active participants in their play, using their creativity and imaginations. These toys even interrupt and distract kids from play by constantly lighting up and calling out for their attention.
- With the remaining toys, set up a toy rotation. Turn a closet or a cabinet into a “library” from which a certain number can be “checked out” at a time. Swap periodically.
- Have everyday toys in easy-to-access bins or baskets. Make a home for everything. Organize toys by like with like (i.e.. Legos, dolls, trucks, etc.) and use baskets to corral items. Baskets are perfect for changing storage needs, they can be used for anything and switched out easily for toy rotation.
- Establish a clean-up routine. Clean up Songs, timers, or routines (clean up before dinner or tv time etc.).
- Remember, less is MORE especially with children!
In conclusion, reducing toy clutter can have a positive impact on children’s playtime and development. Studies show that by reducing the number of toys and promoting a more intentional and mindful approach to play, children can learn to appreciate their possessions and use their imagination more fully.
If you would like to explore working with me, book a FREE consult today!