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My kids used to have all of the toys. If it was on some hot toy list, they probably had it, or it was on a list to purchase for an upcoming holiday.
And for the longest time, I could not figure out why I was constantly cleaning and they were constantly fighting. I mean, this was an all day, every day madhouse… The kind that made me want to go lock myself in the bathroom with a glass of wine and cry.
I finally discovered the absolute beauty of decluttering their toys. The benefits to my happiness and sanity alone have been incredible.
But, I wasn’t the only one benefitting from having less toys.
I think the biggest benefits were actually to my kids!
Since the great toy declutter, we’ve had less fighting and bickering. Less dragging their feet come clean up time. Less complaints that they’re bored.
I’ve found since we’ve tossed all of the excess junk they weren’t really playing with anyway, that life has been so much simpler.
We’re all happier, more focused, less overwhelmed and rushed, and generally more agreeable.
Decluttering those toys is the best thing we ever did not only for our home… but for our children’s lives.
Research shows time and time again, that kids do not need a ton of toys to thrive. In fact, it can be detrimental to their development.
8 Ways Fewer Toys Are Better for Your Kids
1. Increased Creativity
Surely I’m not the only one that has noticed that most of today’s toys don’t inspire creativity. They often do everything for the child and leave no room for imagination. They sing, dance, light up and otherwise distract kids from actually playing. This seems especially true of baby and toddler toys… their most impressionable years!
But kids, given the opportunity, are very creative. With the right, open-ended toys their imaginations and creativity will be sparked. Give them a moment and watch their creativity blossom. I’m always amazed at how my children play with the simplest of toys. No flashy lights and songs required. In fact, they prefer there not be flashy lights and songs anymore.
My older two love to build cities, dinosaurs, and a gazillion other things with legos, or even just some rocks, sticks and sand when they’re outside. They play vet with stuffed animals. They grab some books and play library. Their imaginations truly seem limitless.
My toddler builds cities and stables out of blocks. It’s incredible to watch how much they’ve grown since they have to actually play instead of their toys doing all the play for them. And it’s more fun for me to engage!
2. More Meaningful Play
A while back the University of Toledo published a study about the effects of the number of toys in a toddlers environment. And while research on this subject has been done before, and the results are basically the same, it still astonishes me.
More toys does not equal more play, or better play. In fact, research has shown time and again that the opposite is true. Fewer, less flashy, toys equals more engaged, long-term play.
When your kid has 250 toys to choose from, they get distracted, they have trouble making decisions, and they often don’t play very long or very deeply with the toy before moving on to one of the other 249 toys available to them.
But, when your child only has a few toys to select from, they will often play with the toy the select much longer and in a deeper and more meaningful way. They won’t just press a couple of buttons and move on, but engage in their play in a much deeper and meaningful way.
Play helps a child develop in so many ways. It helps them learn about and begin to interpret the world around them. The longer a child plays with a toy, the more meaningful that play is… the more beneficial it is to their growth. Children who can play with one selected toy long term will generally have longer attention spans, increased imagination, better cognition and problem-solving, and even improved motor skills.
Kids should get to be kids. You and I get overwhelmed by too many things and too many options, imagine how it feels to a child who hasn’t even really gained decision making skills. Fewer toys means your child can grow smarter, stronger, and more creative and that’s amazing to me.
3. A Love for the Arts
Before we decluttered all of the excess, it was like pulling teeth to get my kids to sit down and color, paint, draw, do a craft, read, practice piano, anything. They would play with a toy for 5 minutes, toss it, and go find the next toy. There was no true interest in enjoying the more calming and quiet activities they could do.
Once the toys were gone, they opened up more to drawing, creating, and reading. With fewer toys, they had more time so to speak, to engage in these creative and engaging activities and realize they were actually fun. All of this has helped them become more empathetic and expressive and it’s been an amazing transformation to watch.
4. Less Arguing
Like I said at the beginning, their fighting and arguing was to the point that I felt like a failure. I wanted to just lock myself in the bathroom with a glass of wine, cry, and surrender. I couldn’t find a way out and it was a dark time… not only for me, but for them as well.
It’s natural for siblings to fight, but it doesn’t have to be all day every day. Many, myself included, think that more toys means less arguments because they have more available. However, the opposite is true.
The fewer toys your kids have, the less they’ll fight. They will be forced into sharing, communicating, and cooperating more often than not.
5. Increased Perseverance and Determination
Before we tossed all of the excess toys, my older two constantly gave up… way too easily. They’d try something for a minute, it wouldn’t work out, and they would just give up. No matter how many times we tried telling them that things take time, and will get better with time and practice, they’d just give up and say I can’t.
Now how? I kept wondering… how did we manage to raise kids that are giving up so easily?? Once the toys were gone, I realized… that’s how! If a child has a million toy options and a toy requires too much concentration or work, they’ll just toss it to the side and grab a toy that doesn’t require as much work.
Those skills that they learn from tossing the more challenging toy to the side transfer into actual life skills. If something seems too hard, they just want to give up and take the easy way out.
Now? Most of the time they have an I think, I can, I will, I do kind of attitude. Most of the time. They’ve learned how to do so many things from not giving in or giving up in the past year it’s been amazing. And I know that these skills of perseverance and determination will follow them their entire lives so that they rarely, if ever, give up before giving it a true shot again.
6. A Calmer, Quieter Home
Of course you could say that this is a mom benefit (and it totally is), but it’s also a kid benefit. Without all of the toys cluttering up the environment, you will find that your home is calmer, quieter, and much, much more inviting.
This calm, quiet place you call home may seem like a foreign land for a while, but you’ll soon realize it isn’t and notice the benefits not only to your own life, but theirs.
When you see a bunch of clutter, particularly toy clutter in this instance, what do you usually do? You get overwhelmed, right? Then, you nag your kids to pick up, and they get overwhelmed and stressed. You just want them to pick up their crap! Right? But think about it, you’re overwhelmed and stressed, and so are they.
And rarely, at least in my experience, do they ever listen and actually pick anything up. Which creates stress, tension, and arguing between you, them, and amongst themselves.
Less toys means less to pick up. So, it means less nagging and more cooperation. My kids generally pick up what they have out with only one prompt… unless they’ve drug all the legos out, but that’s another story haha.
You will all be less stressed, and your home will be calmer, happier, and more quiet. Which… who doesn’t want that?
7. They Play Outside
We could all benefit from more time out in nature. But, if you’re constantly cleaning up after your kids toy explosions and they’re in a play room with no less than 242 toy options distracting them and begging for their attention… you’re probably not getting outside enough, if at all.
Without all of those extra toys laying around to keep your kids falsely occupied, they can go and explore the great outdoors. And watching them learn more about the outside world, to me anyway, is so amazing.
My kids beg to go outside. They dig in the dirt and find shells, or build things with sticks, or find leaves and make nests. It’s amazing. They get to see how beautiful the world around us truly is instead of being locked down in a house playing with junk that doesn’t inspire them to do anything or learn anything new.
There’s a great big world out there. They should be able to experience all of it’s beauty without all of the distractions.
8. They Become More Intentional Consumers
Consumerism has taken over in epic proportions. And not in a good, or healthy way. It’s becoming more and more difficult for people to realize that they can’t buy something to make them happy. Happiness and contentment cannot be bought on a store shelf. Rather, they’re often found in the moments and memories we create with one another.
When your child has fewer toys, they not only learn how to appreciate what they have, but also begin learning how to be more intentional about what kinds of things they allow into their lives.
Kids learn behaviors just as much as anything else during their childhood. If you instill a behavior of gratitude and contentment and making intentional, thoughtful purchases for things that last now, it will last them their entire lives.
Help your child find joy in the every day and make intentional choices when they do add to, or replace, their toy collection. Help guide them through the decision on whether or not the toy is quality and will add to their play time, not subtract from it.
Fewer toys will allow your children to have an amazing childhood and grow into amazing, well-adjusted adults.
It’s not about things, it’s never about things. It’s about experiences. No toy can replace the experiences we must have in order to make a life. No toy can replace the beautiful things that happen when your child solves a problem. No toy can replace the human interaction that your child needs and craves.
I think toys can be incredibly beneficial to our children’s growth and development. But, I know that if tomorrow they only had their own imaginations to entertain themselves with, they’d be just fine.
Have you decreased the toy clutter? What benefits have you seen from it?
Other Minimalist Kids Posts You’ll Love:
- How to Easily Declutter Toys for a More Abundant Life
- 9 Ways You Can Simplify Life with Kids
- Why You Need Minimalism in Your Motherhood