Toys! Toys! Everywhere, toys! Once you have children they are the one thing to clarify that you are, in fact, a parent. No children can be seen and it’s still blatantly obvious. Then, when your kids play with them, don’t put them back where they belong, and look for them later…. sigh. Before we moved, our two young daughters had so many toys, it was pure chaos.
I finally decided after we had taken most of their toys across the country and back, that it was time to downsize their toy collection, a lot. Most of their stuff had been in storage when we were in Montana, anyway. Guess what? They didn’t miss it, they weren’t any less happy not having a million and one toys to distract them.
One of the biggest problems we face today, kids and adults alike, is too much stuff!!
We had already minimized our own belongings, now it was time to tackle the kids stuff.
I did keep some of their toys, but I culled a large section of them simply because they don’t need all of that stuff. They’re perfectly happy sitting down with me and learning new things, helping me cook, playing a game, or just going outside.
What we kept is extremely minimal in comparison to what we had. Some of it I kept because we utilize it for homeschooling, some I kept because they frequently play with the item, and some I kept due to nostalgic and sentimental reasons. They do not play any less now than they did before, in fact, with less clutter, they play more! And they get along better! No more fighting over who is playing with what. It’s all about balance, I want them to enjoy life, not be overcome with too many objects cluttering their minds and their lives. Less is more, and just like I feel better when I don’t have so many things cluttering up my life, they do too!
The Minimalist Approach to Kids Toys
When I started looking at all the stuff my kids had laying around, I was overwhelmed. I can’t even imagine how they felt! I still had a hard time deciding what to let go of. They seemed so attached to everything or I thought they might play with it one day. Well, that day never came for a large portion of their stuff and I was tired of it. Tired of the fighting over things. Tired of them being too overwhelmed to pick up after themselves, so my husband and I just dove in one night and started sorting through….
We decided to keep only the bare essentials. We discovered boxes full of things had dust on them. They hadn’t been opened in months. Why were we still holding on to these things?!
We started by asking the following questions:
- Have they played with it in the last month?
- Does the toy inspire the use of their imagination?
- Does the toy inspire creativity?
- Is the toy age appropriate?
- Does the toy have sentimental value? (for instance, my daughter has a stuffed rabbit she’s had since birth, she carries that thing with her everywhere and she’s almost 6, that stayed despite the fact it’s really tattered).
- Are all of the pieces to the toy here?
- Is the toy broken?
- Is the toy too flashy and distracting? (many toys today are)
- Will the toy stand the test of time? (is it going to break in 10 seconds or will it be around for the baby in a few years)
Once we had answered those questions a lot of stuff was already out. My kids are simple. They play with Schleich animals, building blocks, a few stuffed animals, and occasionally their dolls. That’s it.
We then went through and decided exactly what to keep and what to donate. If the toy wasn’t routinely played with or didn’t inspire some form of creativity or teamwork, it went. Here’s the simple list:
- Science Kit
That’s it! They’re less overwhelmed, they clean up better. I’m less overwhelmed and not constantly trying to get them to clean up their mess. We get to spend more time together enjoying ourselves. We have fun, quality toys that will last their whole childhood and the baby’s childhood, too.
Honestly, your child could have not one single toy and still turn out just fine. Children don’t need things, they need experiences. They will learn and become creative and imaginative all on their own. These objects just compete for their time, and sometimes even take away their natural creativity and imagination.
My kids get along better and play better by not having a million and one things lying around. I encourage you to really look at what your child has as far as toys go, and cull a bunch of it. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes for not only you (because you don’t have so much junk to clean up) but your child! I’ve really watched our daughters blossom since culling their toys.
So, there you have it, a bare bones toy list. Just because there aren’t ten million things on the list doesn’t mean your kids won’t have fun. You can of course adjust to your child’s personality. Just don’t go overboard. A few of each of these items is more than sufficient. Think two or three lego sets, a couple of dolls, a few stuffed animals, a dozen books or so (use your library instead!). Don’t think 25 dolls, 3,000 lego pieces, and 400 books. It’s all about balance.
Also, I encourage you, when you do purchase toys, buy quality, not quantity. Purchase well made toys when you can. We love legos, but my feet don’t. Wooden toys will last a lifetime and don’t have obnoxious sounds playing 24/7. I hope this will help to encourage you to get rid of some of that toy clutter that is clouding up your child’s mind. They’ll get along fine without all of that, guaranteed.