Inside: Do your kids have too many toys? Here’s 7 compelling reasons why you should purge toys. My favorite’s #7.
One of my friends has a house so clean, you’d never guess she has kids. And her husband travels for work. And she’s the most real, authentic person I’ve ever met.
She keeps a bin of toys nicely tucked behind the big armchair. When the kids play, the toys come out and parade noisily around the house.
Here’s the magical part: when playtime is over or it’s dinnertime, clean up takes less than five minutes. She and her toddler pick up toys, toss them into the bin and the bin slithers back into its hiding space.
Compare that to my house, which looks like someone held up a toy store, broke into my house and dumped all the toys on my living room floor.
It takes an hour to clean up all the toys — including the 45 minutes I spend procrastinating and bellyaching. 🤣
But seriously —
When something takes less time to clean, you’re more likely to clean it.
In this post, I’ll share 7 reasons you should purge toys. (My favorite is #7, which is all about teaching lifelong habits.)
#1: Purging Toys Decreases Anxiety (For You and Your Kids)
It may be no surprise to you there is a correlation between clutter and anxiety.
When we are presented with too many choices, we experience something called decision fatigue. This happens when the quality of our choices declines after our brain has made numerous decisions (which is why we’re more likely to binge eat at the end of a long day).
The same is true with our kids. While most children love having choices, having too many choices can lead to overwhelm.
That’s why your child complains of boredom despite having a whole room full of toys. When they walk into the room and see hundreds of options, they become overwhelmed.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m overwhelmed, my immediate response is to head-in-the-sand it and hope it goes away.
Overwhelming kids can have the same effect. They walk into a cluttered room, see a thousand options, their brain freaks out, says “Nope!” and they quickly leave the room.
Let’s compare this with a playroom that has been carefully purged of unused toys. What’s left are the toys your kids love to play with.
They walk into the playroom and immediately see a toy they love. Instead of being confronted with feelings of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm, your kids are filled with feelings of joy and excitement.
#2: It’s Easier to Clean Up Fewer Toys.
Congratulations! You’ve been selected for the newest, hottest game show. It’s an updated version of the old favorite, Supermarket Sweep, where contestants race through a supermarket trying to grab as many items before the timer goes off.
In this new version, Playroom Sweep, you will race to pick up as many toys as possible and shove them back into their bins before the buzzer sounds. Whoever has less toys on the ground wins.
On your mark, get set, GO!
You race around the corner to find a playroom cluttered with too many toys. There are building blocks, dolls without clothes, and so many tiny shoes. As you open the bins and attempt to understand what goes where, you glance across the game show set to your contestant.
Hold the phone!
Your contestant’s playroom contains only a few favorite toys. Your contestant quickly picks up puzzle pieces off the ground, after which she’ll have to pick up a stuffed animal and a building set. And like that, she’ll be done.
You look back at your own playroom as you run around to shove Mr. Potato Head pieces back in his head. You have no less than a gazillion items to pick up, sort and put away.
This. Is. Not. Fair!
You’re right, it’s not fair. I bet you have a friend or two whose kids have only a few toys, but toys they love and cherish. When she or her kids clean up the toys, they will spend significantly less time than those of us with a thousand lost pieces.
The fewer toys your kids have, the less time it takes to clean them up.
The less time it takes to clean up, the less overwhelming the process is…which means you are motivated to do it more often.
Do you know the best part about an easy-to-clean play area? You can teach your kids to do it themselves. 😍
You can’t expect a young child to scan thousands of pieces and sort them into their proper bins, especially if this process takes more than five minutes.
But even a young toddler can learn the basics of picking up toys and putting them away — if you make it easy for them.
#3: Kids Play with Their Toys More Often.
When kids walk into a room jam-packed with toys, they often don’t know what to play with. This can lead to the age-old saying of “I’m bored!”
However, when there are less toys in a space, it is easier to see right away what is available to play. This makes kids excited to go over and pull out a toy that has caught their eye.
#4: Kids Engage in More Creative Play.
A study by the University of Toledo found toddlers had much more interactive play when presented with 4 toys instead of 16.
You guys. Having sixteen toys doesn’t seem like a lot of toys. In fact, children in the US consume more than 40% of the world’s toys, yet make up only 3.1% of the world’s children.
We have conditioned ourselves that a playroom or play area should be abundant with toys, when it is obvious our definition of normal is skewed.
Imagine if you got rid of 95% of your kids toys and were left with only a few of their cherished favorites. What would life look like? Would your kids be perfectly happy with this carefully curated selection?
Okay, maybe purging 95% of your kids’ toys is too much. What about 50%?
Imagine a scene where your kids are playing happily. This may involve them coloring quietly at the kitchen table, building towers in the playroom, or running around like over-caffeinated superheroes on a mission to save the day.
How does that fantasy compare with your reality? If you’re reading this post, I’d wager your fantasy is far off from reality.
Maybe your kids go into a nicely organized playroom and dump out all the bins, only to complain they’re bored a couple of minutes later. Maybe they spend most of their time looking for something to play with. Or maybe they fight over the one toy that makes the most “boops” and “beeps”.
By purging toys, you’re helping your children spend less time making choices and more time playing.
#5: Kids Have More Room to Play.
This is an obvious observation we so often overlook:
With fewer toys in an area, there’s more room to play.
Once you purge toys that are broken, no longer played with or too big for their own good, you’re left with more space for your children to play.
That’s more room to build forts, act out plays or jump from pillow to pillow and pretend the floor is lava.
One question I ask myself when I am irrationally attached to stuff: “Do you want the stuff or do you want the life?”
You might envision a home filled with laughing kids running around, but the reality is their toys get in the way of active play. The toys cover the floor and make indoor tag uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worst.
Remove the toys your kids are not playing with, so they have room to enjoy their favorites.
#6: Release the Attachment to Stuff.
We live in a materialistic culture, one which spends more on advertising in the U.S. alone than it would cost to provide clean water to those who currently lack access.
To put it another way, advertisers spend billions each year to get us to buy more when there are children dying of completely preventable diseases.
I’m not telling you to sell all your stuff and move to a yurt in the Himilayas. (Unless that’s your thing.) I happen to love some tangible things: my phone (records the cutest videos of my kids), my computer (satisfies my insatiable curiosity), and my sweatpants (they’re really comfy).
But did you notice something? For every one of the items I love, it’s not the item itself I love. It’s the experience I love. I have a love of preserving memories, challenging my brain, and, oh — really warm legs. 🔥
We want to teach our kids to love the experience that comes along with the stuff, not to love the stuff alone.
I’m going to be honest. The first time decluttering hurts. It’ll hurt for you and it’ll hurt for your kids.
But there’s good news: the feeling of pain is temporary. Soon after purging, you forget the item ever existed. And you’re left with more space for creating the life you love.
The same goes with your children. They might kick and scream the first few times purging toys. They might insist they love every single toy, they can’t get rid of a single one, and they do indeed play with the robot with an inch of dust on it.
But just as a bodybuilder didn’t get those massive muscles overnight, kids don’t learn to build the decluttering muscle after one go.
The first time around, they might only let go of one or two toys. The next time, they might get rid of a few more.
Threatening to throw out half the toys when they’re at school is NOT a good method. (Speaking from experience… 😲)
Being patient is critical. You are showing your child you trust their decisions. Over time, they learn that getting rid of the unused toys does not get in the way of them enjoying their favorite toys.
#7: Teaching them life long habits
This is the most important reason for purging toys, yet it often is overlooked. We spend so much time focusing on having a clean house that is social-media worthy, we forget what it’s all about in the first place.
We’re not only the caretakers of these young children. Our job goes beyond containing them in a safe environment until they are old enough to pay taxes.
Being a parent is so much more.
As a parent, we are the caretakers of their hopes and dreams. We are the preservers of their childhood. We are the kissers of boo-boos and the best hug in town.
While it’s tempting to get swept up in the pristine-house hype, I ask you to take a moment to think about what you want to teach your children.
- What core values do you want your children to learn?
- What relationship do you want them to have with things?
- What household chores and habits do you want to teach them?
Odds are, most of us don’t want to raise kids who are entitled, materialistic and an all-around jerk.
When you help your kids purge toys, you are teaching them two life long lessons:
#1: Intangible values are more important than tangible things.
When you’re decluttering, it’s not about the stuff you get rid of. It’s about creating space for the life you want to live.
With less toys to focus on, the focus turns elsewhere. Kids learn to value things that can’t be bought in a store: friendships with peers, relationships with family, and the thrill of warm sunshine on your face after a long winter.
The toys become less about the physical item and more about the experiences you can create with that physical item.
#2: Take care of what you keep.
When you purge toys, you’re simply removing the items no one ever liked anyways. You throw out the board games with a few missing pieces. You purge the toys that were a gift but sit in the corner untouched.
And you say goodbye to the toys that “boop” and “beep” until you’re ready to lock yourself in the pantry with a box of cookies.
What’s left are the toys your children love and play with on a regular basis.
It would be sad if a special, one-of-a-kind toy broke because it was thrown from the top of the stairs. When kids have a small collection of carefully curated toys, they learn to take care of their stuff. (Because nobody wants Sid, the toy punisher from Toy Story, living in their house.)
Where to go from here?
So, you’ve decided to purge toys but as you look over the sea of mismatched pieces, you have no idea where to start decluttering.
I’m here for you friend. Getting rid of toy clutter doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and it certainly isn’t rocket science.
Just grab your free decluttering checklist by clicking on the big orange button below.
You can print it out and use it to track your progress.