If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the toys in your life, this post is for you.
There was a time in my mothering journey that noisy, light up toys overtook our home. The toy bins, baskets, boxes, and toy tables overflowed. There were just too many toys! So many so, that our boys didn’t play with them. In all honesty, they couldn’t. They were probably overstimulated just looking at all of them. It was a first world problem of epic proportions.
The truth is, all the organizational products in the world couldn’t fix our problem. We had TOO MANY TOYS. I was frazzled and anxious with he chaos of keeping them all tidy.
Many of the toys left quickly during our major organizational overhaul a couple of years ago, and toys continually leave as I purge throughout the year.
So, how do I decide what stays and what goes? For us, the answer has it’s root in our parenting goals and family values.
Our children watch a limited amount of television on a regular basis and have restricted access to technology. In a typical week, they watch roughly 3-4 hours of t.v. and play a couple of educational computer games. Granted, when they visit their grandparents, all bets are off. 🙂
The reason for this, at least partially, is because we want them to engage in creative play. We want them to be kids; running outside through the woods, playing in the dirt, and climbing trees. As you can see, they throughly enjoy the dirt and mud part!
I realize our values aren’t your values. Therefore, the criteria for “keep” toys at your house might not be the same as ours. However, I thought it might be helpful to share what questions I ask myself when I am purging. Consider (at least mentally) making a few “toy rules” for your house.
If I were to make a list of guidelines for toys at our house, they would look something like this:
- Does it make noise or having flashing lights? If so, I strongly consider purging. It requires very little creativity or ingenuity to interact with a toy that talks or plays music. It’s no secret that I have a love affair with wooden toys. These castle blocks have been a favorite of our boys since they received the set for Christmas several years ago. Over time, several sets of different kinds (most from yard sales) have been mixed together to create a varied, colorful assortment of blocks. I love the creativity it encourages!
This (affiliate link) Hape toy cube has also been a hit at our house with the baby and toddler crowd. I love how it has a solid, square base that will support the child’s weight as they start to pull up.
- Does it have a zillion tiny pieces? There is a strong possibility that it might not stay at our house if this is the case. While I love Playmobil toys, they have many, many pieces and parts. I will usually keep the larger pieces out and put the tiny pieces up for later when all of the boys are old enough to keep them out of their mouths.
Playmobil offers a 1-2-3 line for children 18-36 months (and up) that is a really nice solution to this issue. We received this (affiliate link) Playmobil 123 Noah’s Ark toy for Christmas last year and are really enjoying it.
- Will it be something that will hold their attention for more than a couple of weeks? Occasionally, I am surprised at what captures the attention of our children, but most often, I can anticipate what they will be interested in. For example, one of our boys remained interested in firefighters for nearly three years. I honestly thought we might never move on to another hobby. 🙂
- Is the toy built to last and of good quality? For me, this is a no brainer and is for partially selfish reasons. The better the quality, the less chance of it breaking. If a toy breaks, children get sad and it creates stress (and sometimes conflict) for me.
- Do we have space for it? If not, is there an item we are willing to purge to make room for it? We don’t have a play room or even a tremendous amount of unoccupied square footage in our home, and that’s okay! For us, this simply means we have to be realistically aware of what toys, gadgets, and books we can accommodate.
Now, this list isn’t exhaustive, and it isn’t perfect. Our kids are still kids. They bring home goodies from church and prizes from the dentist. They usually manage to snag a toy from my parents’ when they visit. I don’t obsess about these little things. Every so often, I just try to go through and purge the “build up.” 🙂
I hope this helps you to think a bit about what toys you want to hang on to and which ones you’d like to pass along to a new home.
What criteria do you use when you purge toys?