Inside: One friend raves about having fewer toys. Another has a house so packed, it looks like a toy store. How do you know how many toys are the right amount?
When my first son was about 18 months old, we had a single bin of toys for him to play with. We’d open up the bin, take a few toys out, and he’d happily drag one or two toys around the house for the entire day.
As he grew older and developed more of an interest in imaginative play, the number of toys started to grow.
He acquired dress ups, several different building sets, and thousands of small pieces that make parenting a second child difficult. 😩 I quickly developed ninja skills that allow me to see a small piece out of the corner of my eye from a hundred feet away.
It’s difficult to determine how many toys are the right amount for your child. You want to have enough to encourage learning and fun, but not so many toys, it’s overwhelming for both you and your kids.
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You have one friend who follows the minimalist approach, with five carefully curated toys. Another friend has a playroom so packed with the latest and greatest toys, it looks like a toy store. Both friends are extremely happy with their way of living.
So, how do you know how many toys are adequate for your family? Here are 5 questions to help you determine how many toys your kids should have.
How many toys should my child have? – 5 questions to ask
#1: Are There Broken Toys?
The easiest toys to purge of are the ones that are broken. They could go missing in the middle of the night and no one would miss them or even remembered they existed.
My kids are constantly getting cheap little toys from school, church and birthday parties. The sustainability side of me hates the thought of adding something to the landfill that saw mere seconds of play. But keeping broken toys in my house just to save them from the landfill means I’m treating my home like a landfill.
Go find those toys that are broken with no hope of repair. Throw them out. They waste space and are often a safety hazard.
#2: Are Any Toys Missing Pieces?
Okay, I’ll admit: we have a well-loved Candyland board game with a few cards missing. The more we love playing with something, the more likely we are to lose a few pieces.
But there’s a difference between a toy that has a few missing pieces but is still playable (or the manufacturer pieces have been replaced with random items around the house — like the erasers we use as board game markers), and a toy that is missing so many pieces, you can no longer play with it, or it’s not as fun to play with it.
If your kids pass over playing with a toy they once loved because it no longer has the essential pieces, it’s time to throw it out.
If your kids love it so much, you might decide to buy a brand new one. BUT! First get rid of the old one and let some time pass before buying a new one. You may find your kids don’t miss it much at all.
#3: Are There Unused Toys?
Simply put, toys that aren’t being played with are clutter. They are an eyesore and take up room that could be used for creative play.
Survey the toys and ask yourself, “How long has it been since my child played with this?” You could set a time period with whatever you feel comfortable with: a month, three months, or a year.
You might be okay with donating a toy that hasn’t seen any love in the last month. Your theory: “Out of sight, out of mind. Kids love playing with toys they’re most familiar with. If they haven’t played with it in the last month, it’s unlikely they’ll play with it in the next month.”
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Or you might want to hold off through a complete cycle of seasons. Your theory: “The kids aren’t outside much during the winter, so they might love this toy once warmer weather arrives.”
Whether you determine how many toys your kids should have on a monthly basis or a yearly basis is not the point.
The point is to pick a time frame that works best for your family and to declutter and organize toys on a regular basis.
#4: Do Your Kids Have Duplicates Of Their Favorites?
Okay, so maybe there are certain toys your kids love playing with. The only problem: they have so many duplicates they can’t play with them all.
This could range from a bin full of trucks to an entire cabinet full of Barbies. Just because your child likes playing with one or a few of a certain toy doesn’t mean they will like playing with all of them.
In other words, more is not more. So often, more gets in the way of kids finding and playing with their favorite toys.
#5: Can Your Kids Clean Up After Themselves?
The answer to this question may vary by your kids’ ages, but it is still an important one to ask.
Even young toddlers can help pick up a few toys and put them away in a bin. What young toddlers can’t do is pick up thousands of pieces and sort them into different categories.
If it is difficult for your child to clean up toys, you have too many toys. If you have to spend an hour after the kids go to bed returning all the pieces to their proper bins, you have too many toys.
How many toys your kids need varies by how independent your kids are when it comes to cleaning up.
Check out these tips for how to get your family to clean from Clean My Space. (Love love love her YouTube channel!)
Give Yourself Grace…And Time
While it is possible to declutter your toys in a weekend, a week or a month, doing this increases the chances your kids will resist.
In other words — if you throw out half your kids’ toys while they’re at school, they will FREAK. (Ahem, I may know this from experience. 😱 )
If, however, you declutter toys a few at a time, starting with the toys that never see playtime, odds are you will avoid 99% of decluttering-related tantrums.
Let’s do this!
It’s not hard to declutter toys, but it helps to know the right questions to ask when choosing how many toys are enough for your kiddos.
You now are armed with the questions to make this process a breeze. Right now, I want you to stop what you’re doing and go schedule a time to dive headfirst into those toys (watch out for those dang LEGOs).
Tell me in the comments below when you scheduled a time!
A calm and organized playroom is right in front of your eyes. You just have to uncover it!