Picture this: It’s Christmas morning and your sweet cherubs have opened all their gifts, but instead of playing with the actual gifts, they end up playing with the boxes.
Or you are in your kitchen and your toddler is just banging away on your pots with a wooden spoon.
Or maybe your littles are grabbing sheets and pillows and building their very own fort in the living room or under the dining room table!
The take away? Your kids don’t need tons of toys to really play!
So just how many toys does your kid need?
How Many Toys Should a Child Have?
Did you know there have been studies that show more clutter equals more stress.
“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives,” Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote in an article for Psychology Today.
I don’t believe this is any different for children.
In another study I read recently said:
- An abundance of toys present reduced quality of toddlers’ play.
- Fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively.
So take heart Mamas, there is no minimum requirement for the number of toys you should have on hand, but there definitely is a point of diminishing returns!
Avoiding Too Many Toys Syndrome
Do you struggle with an ungrateful child? Perhaps the lack of gratitude is due to an overabundance or lack of effort to get something they want.
How much is your child really going to enjoy their new toy with so many other distractions around?
If there is a certain toy your child is really wanting, consider having them work to earn it. When you think back, don’t you appreciate things more when you really had to work to get them?
Perhaps the sheer amount of toys is so overwhelming they can’t find what they need or there’s no space for them to really explore and play?
If you’ve experienced any or all of these issues, consider making a change!
A few years ago, we implemented a new strategy at Christmas or Birthdays.
At Christmas our children get:
- something they want
- something they need
- something to wear
- something to read.
For birthdays, they get an experience. We go ice skating, or to see a movie, camping, etc.
Not only has this strategy allowed us to keep down the amount of stuff we accumulate, it really has allowed my girls to appreciate what they do have and time as a family.
Rules for Decluttering Toys
We have a quarterly purge at our house. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve read that we move frequently due to my husbands job so we aren’t interested in hanging onto tons of ‘stuff’.
Now that my kids are old enough to be responsible for cleaning up their room, they’ve realized that the more they have, the more they have to clean up. And that has also been quite the catalyst for motivating them to really think hard about what they want to hold onto.
Each quarter, we talk through what they really play with and enjoy the most and make decisions from there. Those decisions have allowed them to spend less time cleaning up mountains of mess and more time really enjoying what they did have.
So what were some of the criteria we used with our initial purge?
What toys will be donated?
- If it’s broken or missing pieces. These automatically get thrown out. There is no reason to keep something that is broken (irreparable) or missing pieces.
- Aren’t part of a regular rotation. These are toys that my kids never play with. Toys that stay for the long haul are toys that get consistently played with- so things that were fun for a hot second, but quickly lose their shine are donated.
If you aren’t sure, pick up a few things and put them away in a closet and see if your kids ever ask you for them. You know what you see your kids playing with pretty regularly, but if you want a little validation, start putting things aside and see what gets missed.
- Aren’t developmentally appropriate any longer. Books and toys your kids have outgrown are a super easy place to start minimizing.
- Space requirements. If your play space is limited, perhaps buying toy drums is not the way to go. While this is probably not the number one reason to get rid of something, it should definitely be a consideration.
What toys do we keep?
- Variety. I love having a variety of different types of toys to encourage different types of play. Different types of play encourages different learning styles and utilizes different parts of the brain.
- Personal Interests. Another consideration in what to keep should be your child’s interests. Perhaps they couldn’t care less about building with Legos but could sit and draw or craft all day.
- Durability. Pick quality items that will last.
- Meaningful. Is there a toy that is special or means alot to your child? My oldest has a doll she got from her grandfather before he passed away that we’ll never get rid of. It is very well loved and I’ve had to make small repairs periodically, but it’s super special to her.
How to Maintain the Toy Minimalism
With birthday parties, Christmas… the existence of grandparents it is super easy to accumulate a ton of stuff before you realize it. So it’s important to develop some kind of strategy to maintain positive control over what comes into your space.
Aside from a periodic inventory of what you have, and limiting what comes into your house, another option we’ve adopted is that when something comes in, then something must go out.
If there is something that my kids really want during the year, they can either earn the money for it, or added it to their Elfster account during the year.
If you don’t know what Elfster is or why you need it in your life, pop over to my post where I talk all about how we plan for Christmas and Birthdays.
I hope this article has been helpful! I would love to hear your tips to help your kids keep their room clean and clutter free. Please comment below!