Society today and the pressure that we ourselves place on our parenting strategies make us feel like we MUST provide our children with a range of stimuli and experience. So this means we essentially collect toys for every possible kind of play and find it very difficult to cull as to prevent limiting the developmental opportunities for our children.
Firstly, I started to list the variety of toys we own and because I’m ridiculously organised this was fairly easy to do.
We have several categories of toys organised into boxes, including:
- * Various animals and dinosaurs
- * Play dough and play dough tools
- * Various musical instruments
- * Balls and sports type toys
- * Cars and trains with a train set
- * Lego, duplo, and various wooden blocks
- * Hand puppets and finger puppets
- * Doll stuff, including dolls, cot, prams, blankets, clothes, etc
- * Tea party and pretend food play toys
- * Teddies, teddies and more teddies
- * Too many ponies to fit into containers
- * A variety of musical/interactive toys
- * Books, books and more books
- * Puzzles
- * Dress ups
- * Bubbles
- * Chalk, textas, pencils, wind-ups, crayons, paint
- * Paper, card, colouring books
- * Collage/craft materials – pop sticks, paper scraps, tissue paper, pompoms, googly eyes, ribbon, sequins, buttons
- * Stickers, stamps, glue, scissors
- * Alphabet and number games, cards and puzzles
- * Sight word cards
- * A playground, swings, cars, a tent or two, bikes (both inside and outside)
- * Toys that don’t belong anywhere or in any category and you’re really not sure what they do or where to put them
How can we possibly solve the too many toys problem? I’ve worked out a selection of toys that can keep my girls entertained and also provide them with a range of experiences. These are the toys that will be available for play once we move and the others will remain boxed until further notice:
- * Ponies
- * Books
- * Dress ups
- * Puzzles
- * Colouring books and paper
- * Pencils, textas and wind-ups
- * Puppets
- * Train set, cars and wooden blocks
- * Swings and slide
- * A selection of teddies
- * Keyboard
Some parents adopt a ‘toy rotation’ approach, which is a great concept but requires time, remembering stuff, and storage. I plan to see how we go with a smaller range of activities and hope it will result in more actual play and less chaos. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels like the hundreds of toys in your home are simply there to be strewn all over the house.
No parent wants to limit their child’s opportunity to grow, but they don’t need a thousand toys to grow and develop to be happy, healthy, smart children. This pressure we experience is some-what self inflicted – it’s a perceived expectation from society. We feel like we need to be the mum that does painting and craft with their kids at home, to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ and to make sure our kids get the experiences that are ‘expected’ in our society.
From a mum who has now spent days in an empty house, I can honestly tell you that my children played better with nothing. They left me alone much longer than they normally would, and they used their imaginations the entire time. There were no fights over who had what, who was being bossy or who wasn’t sharing. Not only does this make your life a little easier, it provides a great opportunity for your kids to experience positive play.
Toys seem to collect and accumulate without you even realising, which can be a big part of the problem. Within one year you can be inundated with toys over Christmas and birthdays, and throwing something out or selling something that has been gifted to your child feels wrong. So put those particular items and toys in boxes to whip out when they tire of the toys they have. Encourage your children to gift toys they no longer want to children who need them, because not every child is blessed with the same level of privilege.
Do you have too many toys? I challenge you – Make a list of the toys your children have and see if you can cut it back to those you feel are of most benefit to them. I’d love to hear of the difference it makes in your life, and to the lives of your little ones.