These are the top reasons I think every parent should declutter toys.
This is not a complete list of all the reasons I think parents should declutter the toys. But it is a great starting point for the endless benefits of less for children. Knowing why it matters, will also help you know when you should declutter toys. Timing is important, and if done at the wrong time can cause more problems than NOT decluttering.
When to actually declutter the toys
The short story – after you have decluttered your own stuff.
When you have taken personal responsibility for your role as the gatekeeper of your home.
As soon as it is clear to your children that you are decluttering to benefit the whole household, and are not just targeting their toys.
I believe children are people with feelings and experiences and attachments to their things just like an adult. That means it takes compassion and grace in leading them through this. Paired with some strong leadership and gentle nudges.
But until you have done this for yourself you can't possibly teach, or expect your children to.
In Decluttering Simplified I have a bonus workshop on toy decluttering especially for you.
I teach you how to support your children in decluttering based on their personalities and internal motivations.
You will learn how to recognize what techniques will work for your children, and what not to waste your time on. For example, one of my children is a natural born philanthropist. Selling her old stuff and donating to the local animal shelter is a big motivator for her.
One of my children just loves to have nice things. That's okay too, and decluttering can still happen.
Very different motivations, that require very different decluttering approaches. I teach you exactly how to recognize what the motivations are, and how to implement them.
You will also get hands on strategies for decluttering with children.
Specific strategies for specific categories of toys including, but not limited to Legos, tech and gaming, dolls and accessories.
Conversations starters for how to prepare your children for this. We don't want them to wake up one day to all their stuff being hauled off without warning!
A Q&A session with me where I answer real life questions from moms inside the Motherhood Simplified community.
However, this bonus workshop is only available to people enrolled in Decluttering Simplified.
Remember when I said you need to do this for yourself first? I mean it! I want to ensure that anyone learning how to declutter their kids' toys has taken this to heart and is ready to do the not always sexy, but necessary work to create long-lasting and sustainable change in the home.
Now let's talk about WHY decluttering the toys is so important!
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.