Ten reasons to declutter your kids toys
And how you can get started with kindness and respect for their things – to get the step by step process check out Toy Decluttering 101
By Krista Lockwood
As moms we all know that toys are a part of our lives, and our kids’ lives. I think we can get a little overwhelmed though by them for a lot of reasons. First being that we live in a society of expert marketers who make us feel like we NEED all the things – and so do our kids. Add on top of that our childhood wounds/messages that tell us toys are needed for certain reasons, we get gifted them from well meaning friends and family, they’re trendy, they’re on sale, we don’t want our kids to be bored and the list goes on.
I want to talk about the benefits of LESS toys though. These are benefits I’ve experienced in my home and in the classrooms I have taught in. Moms I have worked with also experience these benefits which is great news because that means you can experience them as well!
“Too much of a good thing, is never a good thing. Even when it comes to toys.”
1. The house is cleaner and easier to pick up.
I think this is one of the number one reasons moms want to start decluttering. They are sick of the mess and the constant need to clean up all the time just to stay afloat. The great thing about having our toys decluttered is that they can take out everything they have, and it’s able to be cleaned up in about 15 minutes!
2. They respect and care for their things better.
Have you ever noticed how if you only have a small amount of things, you care for it better because it needs to last? Or you can’t afford to lose it because it’s the only one you have? The same happens for your kids and their stuff. When my kids know they only have one basketball for outside they are much more inclined to care for that basketball and make sure it’s put away where it goes to avoid being lost (or run over in the driveway) than if they were to have 5 or 6 and have a “safety net” of sorts knowing that if they lose one, there are more (somewhere).
3. They keep track of their stuff better.
This goes along with number two above, but it’s worth mentioning again because it works for more than toys. If we have one pair of gloves for outside play my kids (age dependent) know they need to keep track of them. It’s also much easier to keep tabs on ONE pair of gloves per person rather than three or four.
4. They appreciate what they have.
Too much of a good thing, is never a good thing. Even when it comes to toys. Have you noticed your feelings toward the toys when they’re strewn throughout the house and just creating more work for you? Your kids feel the same. Instead of gratitude and appreciation for what they have it’s an underlying sense of burden. Sometimes it even comes with feelings of expectation (or that buzzword entitlement) thinking that because you have so much, getting more and deserving more is an endless supply. When you have less you can appreciate more and have a more grounded and realistic perspective of what it takes to create and manage more.
5. I can trust them with nice things.
When there is too many toys to manage they get lost, broken, ruined and mistreated and no one really notices because there is so much other mess and stuff surrounding them. One of the things I love about having less toys is that I can trust my kids with nice things. I feel good about splurging on a nice Calico Critter set because I know they will be taken care of. I can buy furniture (in dark colors, I’m not a glutton for punishment!) because we have a mutual understanding of caring for the things in our home. It’s not perfect, my toddler still loves to color on the walls – but overall we like to take care of our stuff.
6. They respect other people’s stuff.
Until you have an understanding of how to care for and respect your own things, I don’t think you can do that for anyone else. While my kids aren’t perfect by any means I do trust them to go to friends’ and family’s homes and care for their things as if they were their own. I think that is a great life skill for their future.
7. They play more in depth and creatively.
The story lines my kids have create with the stuffed animals we have had for more than a decade are unreal. They have birthdays, family trees, sports records and scandals. When kids are given less they are required to go deep rather than wide with their play. This means they get to practice mastery in story telling, playing, collaboration and creativity. Creativity cannot exist in survival mode or chaos which is often the tone associated with too many toys. It gets much easier to create and collaborate when there is less.
8. They’re more active and get outside more.
I admit, I am a little old school when my kids complain of being bored, or having nothing to do. Weather permitting (which anything short of a tornado or hurricane is fair game to me) I send them outside. They’re free to play tag, dig in dirt, plant some seeds (from that apple they ate earlier), build snow tunnels. Anything they want. As long as it’s outside. Nature is powerful and there are infinite ways to create and play. Nature is powerful for developing minds and science has proven that it hardwires the brain for the most vivid memories (which are your kids neural pathways and a very good thing to have more of).
9. They appreciate music and art more.
Some of my kids favorite toys are musical instruments. Are they modern day Mozarts? Hardly. Do they have fun making music together on the keyboard and drumset? Absolutely. Did I go full modern mom and get electronic versions of both so they can jam out with headphones? Duh. But really, when I think back on my childhood my most vivid and positive memories involved being allowed to play with and explore music.
10. More cooperative play.
We have five kids. Sometimes I think it would be great to have five of everything so that they don’t have to share or communicate.. but to be honest having less teaches the powerful lessons of sharing, waiting, and understanding community resources. These are all things they have to learn in order to be a part of society as they grow. There are lines to wait in at the grocery store. We don’t always get everything right when we want it. Sometimes we have to ask for and borrow from others. Of course I want to give them opportunities to collaborate and cooperate more.
To get more support in a step by step process to decluttering the toys in a way that feels good for you AND your kids, check out the full Toy Decluttering System!