Tricia from Clean House With Kids explains why she decided it was time to toss out the kids toys. No joking!
Now, we never had a LOT of toys, but we had enough so that messes were made easily, and I needed multiple storage containers to organize what the kids had, Tricia writes.
When we last moved, we downsized how many toys our kids owned, and I even packed half the toys away in a storage closet to help with the scattered-messes-everywhere situation.
And yet still… This is what we were dealing with on a daily basis:
1. The kids would pull out the toy containers and dump them.
2. The toys would get kicked all over the room.
3. The kids wouldn’t spend much time actually PLAYING with the TOYS.
4. If one child was playing with a toy, instead of the other children playing with ALL the OTHER toys on the floor, they would end up only fighting (and wanting to play with) that one toy (whichever one it was).
5. It would be time to clean UP the toys, and it would take a very, very long time. Every time.
It was a constant struggle to keep the toys cleaned up. What made it worse is that the kids hadn’t especially enjoyed playing with them to begin with! And the fighting. Ohhh, there was a lot of fighting.
Neither Matt nor I was happy about the situation at all. Matt kept suggesting that we get rid of all the toys–or that each child could only have one. I hesitated, thinking, What would our kids play with then?
Then it happened
And then one morning, it happened. We’d asked the kids (like we did all the time, multiple times every day) to clean up their toys, and they hadn’t, and the toys were just sitting there, un-played with, but very messy and scattered and frustrating.
I got a trash bag, and we just started filling it. All the toys that were worth selling, we set aside to sell.
You know what was the most shocking part of that moment? How happy the kids were with getting rid of their stuff. Instead of being upset, they were like, “Okay! This is cool! I’ll help throw away my toys!!”
We chose to keep two sets of toys–one set of plastic blocks, and my son kept his wooden toolbox (with a few tools inside).
The next few weeks, we could not believe the change in our childrens’ behaviour.
There was less fighting, because there was less to fight over. There was WAY more drawing, which had hardly ever happened before. I suddenly found the kids sitting at the table with crayons and coloured pencils and paper and happily drawing–for very long periods of time!
Which brings me to… they were more content to sit and play the same thing, over and over, than they’d ever been, surrounded by countless plastic and stuffed toys. Their attention spans were longer!
And lastly, they actually became very creative. That set of plastic blocks (which cost me all of $3) has turned into a castle, weaponry, phones, bridges, writing utensils, cups, roads, even a pinata.
As I’m sure you’re wondering how long it takes them to clean up all their “toys” now, it’s something like 2 minutes and 50 seconds, even if they’re not hurrying. Except for the wooden toolbox, which is a little bigger, all their toys can fit in ONE square basket from Target.
If they want to play in their room, they take their basket to their room. It’s also been seen in the living room and downstairs. But whenever they’re done playing, everything goes back in the basket. And… done.
It’s such a relief–all of it–that I can’t ever imagine going back. But I know that as our kids grow older, they’ll enjoy more games, or puzzles, and I’m sure we’ll accumulate a bit more, but for now, this is perfect for us.
Tricia adds, getting rid of toys (no matter how many issues they may cause) does NOT eliminate bad behaviour. Believe me, the bad behaviour is still there as long as there are people present! While the fights definitely lessened between the children, they still fight over other things. It’s honestly kind of amazing how one child holding something can increase its desirability by an exponential amount!
Secondly, I’m not recommending this sort of action for everyone. As I mentioned at the beginning, I hear mums all the time lamenting their messy family rooms, and asking for help. This is what we did, and I’m so very glad we did, but I’m sure there are other good ways to solve the problems these moms are facing.
Six months on…
Tricia told Mouths of Mums that six months later they have not introduced any new toys besides the fact that each daughter now owns a doll. “We are still loving our minimal-toy household, and the changes we’ve seen in the kids!”
I seriously need to follow Tricia’s lead! Could you do this?
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