The topic of toys brings a lot of emotions to the table for moms everywhere. When I started having children 8 years ago, I was determined not to buy too many toys. I wanted to be conscious of what my children played with.
I love wooden toys, blocks, puzzles, board games, dolls, etc. Toys that require ACTION on the child’s part. We stayed far away from electronic toys until my oldest turned 3 and her grandpa bought her a leapfrog Violet toy that sings little songs. It was perfectly fine and is the only toy (with its sister for our other daughter) that we have that is electronic.
Even with the strong desire to limit toys for our children, after four kids, things start to pile up. Birthdays, Christmases, Easter, etc. If we don’t buy them toys, they accumulate them elsewhere. They earn money or are given some for their birthdays/Christmases and are now starting to buy their own toys! It was starting to stress me out big time whenever I walked into my girls’ room (my three daughters share). I HATED nagging them to clean, clean, clean it constantly. But I couldn’t stand the mess in there. It was never-ending. It took a major over-haul to get things straightened up, which took a lot of time, and it returned to its chaotic state the very next day! UGH.
When we started KonMari-ing everything and finished with our clothing and books, I knew I wanted to do toys next. It seemed logical to me. The book doesn’t speak about toys at all or how to approach them, so I figured out my own method and it worked great.
Our first step was to take out anything that was broken or had a missing part. Those toys all went, no questions asked. Then my girls and I sorted things into piles. We drug all the toys out of their closet and made piles:
- stuffed animals
- little people stuff
- random other toys/cars/musical instruments
- dress up clothes
Once things were piled together, I had them go through them with me and it ended up being my oldest daughter (she’s 7) and I that did most of it. She is a great influence on me because she isn’t as emotionally attached to “things” as I am or as her 5 year old sister is. She willingly went through and said, “Mom, I never play with this, let’s give it away.” Sometimes I was cringing inside because I liked that toy . . . but she made the decisions.
I tried to give them numbers for certain items — you can each keep 3 stuffed animals, let’s keep 4 puzzles, etc. It helped a lot to have a goal in mind.
Going through their toys became a game. They had to think about the toys they loved and played with the most. It was tough on my 5 year old at first. It was hard on me too, because they had some toys that I had kept from my own childhood for my kids to play with one day! Some of my stuffed animals and baby dolls had kicked around for the last few years. Now they are all gone!
Once we sorted through all the categories, we put everything back into bins (that finally weren’t overflowing, hurrah). There was a place for everything.
We have had Christmas and two birthdays since going through the toys initially. After Christmas we went through everything again, and it was a great process. Now my girls don’t hold back. They have realized over the past 6-8 months that if there is something they don’t play with, there is no use keeping it around.
My biggest takeaway from decluttering my children’s toys is this: less toys, less mess. Their room still gets cluttered, but it is NOTHING compared to the tornado path that used to streak through their bedroom on a daily basis, causing me to pull my hair out in frustration. We pick up their room every day and it doesn’t take long at all.
Another great benefit from this process for my kids is that they seem to love the toys they do have and take better care of them. They don’t have as many at their disposal, so they get creative and really treasure them. They think hard about new toys they want, knowing that it has to be something they absolutely love, or it might not stick around long!
Teaching my children how to keep their lives simple and not focus on “things” has been amazing for our family. I hope that they are learning something along the way. I hope it sticks for them. It’s fun to buy your children toys. You see things you know they will love, and you want to make them light up with joy over it. I have come to realize that it’s okay to want to spoil them, but they don’t need a bunch of toys to feel spoiled. They get that same look of joy when they get alone time with mom or dad, or when I sit down with them in the middle of the afternoon to read stories, or we color together at the kitchen table. It can be going out to eat as a family and getting ice cream that lights them up, or surprising them with a trip to the museum or a play. There are countless joys that my children feel, and they aren’t always related to getting something new.
Our goal in doing this has always been to get to the place where we have more time for our family and can experience more together, without a lot of stuff weighing us down. So far, it’s been a blessing. While we are still working on perfecting our process, it has brought a lot of change into our lives for the better. It can only go up from here!