Are your child’s toys taking over your home?
Then I’m sure you appreciate how seeing toys strewn all over your home and that seem to reappear within hours of your past attempts to straighten up can affect your sanity.
But did you know that too many toys can also affect your child’s development? Indeed a recent study conducted by the University of Toledo in the US shown that children who have too many toys to play with are more easily distracted and show less interest in their toys, while children who have fewer toys play longer and use their imaginations more.
So if it’s not for your own sanity, I think it’s time you do something to end the toys chaos at home for your children’s sake, don’t you think? This is how.
1 | PURGE
According to The Telegraph, surveys have shown that the average 10-year-old [British child] owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily. This is a huge opportunity for you to purge!
Which toys can you let go of?
The damaged: the ones that are missing critical pieces and that can’t be fixed, or that you won’t get fixed – be realistic here!
The junk: the ones inherited from party favours, happy meals prizes and the likes.
The babyish: the ones that your child has outgrown.
The unloved: the ones that your child has never liked – although you may want to give them a second chance as she may start playing with them once she’s surrounded by fewer toys.
The multiples: the ones that serve the same purpose. Just keep her favourite.
Toys that are still in good condition can be given away to family and friends, donated to charities, sold or, why not, swapped.
2 | ROTATE
Decide how many toys you want your child to have access to at any single time. Remember you don’t want her to have access to too many toys so she can engage better with what she has. Take also into consideration the storage space you have available for her toys.
Keep this amount in the play area and store the excess in a place out of sight or at grand-parents’. Rotate regularly – whether it’s once a week, once a month or every few months.
Let go of those toys she hasn’t shown interest for after a few rotations.
Toys you want to hand down to a younger sibling who can’t play with them yet should also be put out of sight.
3 | SET UP A SYSTEM ENCOURAGING YOUR CHILD TO PLAY WITH HER TOYS… AND PUT THEM AWAY
Every category of toys needs to have a dedicated home so your child knows where to find the toy she wants to play with and where to put it away when she’s done.
Make use of containers, baskets, boxes, bags etc. to keep categories together. You can recycle food containers, shoe boxes, gift boxes etc. Or invest in brand-new baskets, boxes, clear and colourful bins, with/out lids that you can stack, with/out wheels etc.
It doesn’t matter what you use, only that they are sturdy, big enough to hold everything in that category without resorting to the shove and easy for the child to identify.
Labelling can also help identifying things. If you child can’t read yet, put a photo or ask her to draw the contents of the container.
Remember to keep favourites and heavy items easily reachable. You may need to get down on the floor with your child to see what she can reach.
4 | LIMIT THE INFLOW
Unless you limit the number of toys that enter your home, you’re bound to have too many toys in your home again soon.
Ask yourself why you keep buying toys.
Is it out of guilt – because you work or travel a lot and don’t spend much time with your child?
American psychiatrist Bruce Perry said “Children don’t need more things. The best toy a child can have is a parent who gets down on the floor and play with them.” I think he has a point.
Is it out of love – because you struggle to say no to her when she wants a new toy, or you want to stimulate her and give her all the chances to succeed in life?
It might still feel counter-intuitive but remember that based on the study shared above your child’s brain development may benefit from not having too many toys.
But maybe it’s your family and friends who are the source of the problem?
If so, give them a list of gift ideas for birthdays and holidays. Encourage several family members or friends to contribute towards one gift instead of buying one each. Or get a financial contribution and put it into your child’s back account. Suggest experiences instead of toys.
If all fail, practise the one-in one-out rule i.e. for any new toy that your child gets, an old toy has to go.
Hopefully the tips above will help you ensure there are not too many toys left in your home.
You may also want to read this article to learn a few mistakes to avoid when trying to get your child be more organised.
And check this video showing how I helped a mum and her eight-year old son declutter and organise his toys to get some organising inspiration!
Good luck to you!