OK, I am realizing that my kids have too many toys. When I was a kid, my toys would fit in one cardboard box and I was content with that. I never had as much stuff as everyone else, but was a happy kid.
I suddenly realize that I have been doing way too much for my kids, they are 3 and 6 years old and have so many toys that I believe they are overwhelmed and don't even play with them. Any advice on how I can make life simple again?
By Missy from ME
I rotate my child's toys. take 2/3 away and divide the 2/3 into half. Every few months, rotate them. I do keep out his favorites - trains, legos but switch everything else. I do the same with his books -- has a million! It's fun and when you bring out the "new"toys and books, they will get played with and read. Also, anything that doesn't get really used, donate to a shelter.
First, stop buying so many; but you already figured that out. When you consider new toys, think about the play value. Can the toy be used many ways and creatively? Does it take batteries? Can it be shared by, or passed from one child to another? Etc.
Meanwhile, box up the majority of the toys. Put the boxes away for a while, and periodically rotate the toys they have with the boxed toys, that way they'll feel fresh and "new". If you notice toys that never get played with, set them aside to give away/trade.
Look at what they do play with, and help them expand how they play with them. Show them new ways to use the toys. Bring them to the table and engage them in play, and encourage them to stay "just one more minute" after they seem to lose interest to build up the amount of time they can engage in non-preferred activities.
Limit the TV they watch. Despite what the advertisers tell you, it does NOT improve their mind! Watch with them to determine what you think is OK and that they'll get something out of, and stick to your guns.
Encourage reading, reading, reading! Read to them as much as you can. Do "arts and crafts" with them, even if you think you're no good at it. Color, use chalk outside, watercolor paints, clay or play doh (show them how to make snakes and use cookie cutters) and check out the zillions of websites with 'crafts for kids'.
Initially, you might need to show them how to play in an unstructured way; but they will take off with it themselves; and you will be instilling the power of their own imaginations that so many kids are missing out on today. Your two are lucky that you're approaching it while they're little!
Having a 6 and a 3 year old gives you the opportunity to box up some of the 6 year old's toys and keep them put away till your 3 year old might have an interest in them. Of course this might not be the case if your 6 yr old is a girl with dolls and your 3 yr old is a boy. :) That won't help.
But another option is as the others have said... to put away some toys and rotate them when the interests wane.
Another option for toys that have no hope of making the grade... you can give your toys to a church for their child classes or even a church yard sale.
Pass toys on to cousins and other relatives that would appreciate them.
And to not shock your kids too much you can slowly take away some toys over a long period of time and get the collection down to a more manageable level.
You really have lots of options. Another thing you can do is see if there is a second hand store in your area that lets you sell things for a percentage. You can sell the toys through them.
You can also just give the toys to a salvation army, good will or orphanage.
When my girlfriend got to this point, she came up with a clever idea. She cleared the bookshelves in her basement playroom and set out a limited number of toys every 2 weeks and put the others away. Then she would change them out. She had less mess to clean up and she was surprised that sometimes her kids thought the old toys were actually new ones! Plus as she was going through all the toys to store them, she found ones that none of them played with or had outgrown and washed them up and donated to the local church nursery school.
Glad you've realized that you give your children too much. So many people don't realize that until they are much older.
My son, DIL, and girls were involved in a tornado on April 14, 2010. Thankfully they didn't lose their home, just blew the shed away, roof damage and it took the carport off the house and their travel trailer was blown away. It also damaged or blew away the girls toys and some of my son and DIL's outside belongings. Anyway, my point I'm making is that my DIL went through all the girls(ages 2 &5) toys and had them pick out the ones they really wanted to keep (and she didn't let them keep every other one). The 5 yr old didn't understand about giving the toys away.
There were many in their community that lost everything so she taught the girls to give to those who don't have. It is a good lesson to teach children and some adults. If you know of someone that has lost everything whether it's weather related or fire or anything else, have the children pick out what they would like to give to the other children then let them give.(P.S. don't give broken or heavily used toys) Now I'm not saying give the best or newest toys away but don't give something you wouldn't want your children to receive.
Sorry this is so long winded, but many times if the children can see the child they are giving their toys(clothes) to, it will make it easier for them to let go. Hope this helps.
Okay so I just had this realization myself, and I have not purchased a toy in years! we get hand me downs and lots of them. I never look a gift horse so I don't turn them down but now my kid are also overwhelmed by toys.
I am with the person above, I also had this idea yesterday. I am thinking some very large tubs with lids and place an adequate amount of toys in each, for each child (enough bins to encompass all the toys) and then put them in a basement in order. Every two weeks switch to the next bin.
We are going to try this I hope it works, seems like it could
In addition to the hiding toys, rotating, donating, ideas (all good)...keep a rule of "whenever a new "something" comes in--an old "something" must go!"
You might want to check with your local bus company to see if they have a program where children's books can be donated to them to leave on buses for kids to read and keep--we have that here in our city.
I do this myself whenever I buy clothing, shoes, etc!...; so if they get a new toy, they must part with an old one. Keeping toys in bins where they can be seen easily and put away easily helps, too. This way the bins can never get overloaded. You might want to have a yard sale and let them earn some money while they're at it...the older child could help and even enjoy it.
When my kids were little, we did the "before-holiday-purge". Anything broken, missing pieces or otherwise ratty was discarded--what to do with 1/2 of what was left and in good condition was up to them.
We donated to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, hospital pediatric ward playrooms, family services, church daycares ( a lot of denominations--not solely ours) and also did quite a few Secret Santa runs--anonymously.
One rule was also that one toy donated HAD to be something the child really liked. We had family members and friends who scratched their heads over this, but our aim was to try to raise kids who wouldn't be pinning medals on themselves by giving away something they didn't care about; parting with something you love happens in life, and being able to give someone something cheerfully that you'd like for yourself--well, we thought it might help instill compassion as well as a lack of selfishness.
Don't know how that would work for anyone else, but our now-adult children do the same with their own kids. They all say that any discomfort they felt the first time, having to part with a favorite toy just grew and grew into good feelings the more they did it.
As a preschool teacher, I kept toys sorted by themes in boxes, and would change out toys regularly to keep interest high. At home with three children, I often move things to the basement and bring out old toys to put on the toy shelf. The toys are new to them after not having seen them for a while, and it reduces clutter. If you have too many even for that, have the kids set up a table at a neighbors or your own garage sale. Tell them they can keep half of the money they make to buy something 'new to them' at another garage sale, and have them save the rest.
Skip the Sunday School Sermons. Send kids to Grandma's for the day. Look objectively at all those toys. What are their favourites? Pick 5 for each. Those ones that were there from birth, or a special hand made one...those stay.
I am talking of the ones that they have not looked at in over six months, and probably would not remember having to begin with. Box them up. Give them to hospital wards, doctor's offices, and even your local school's pre-K and Kindergarten classes.
I think the heavy load really comes from us, the parents. We see neighbour Johnny or Susie with the latest toy, then we buy it for our little angels. Or we buy it by impulse...that's my biggest vice for my kids. I am working on breaking that bad habit. Watch what they play with (and what they don't), go from there.
Obviously, throw the incomplete, tattered and broken things out. Buy one of those stands with the multi coloured bins (usually there are nine of them) and fill those with the legos, blocks, etc. Fill that and then no more. When one goes out, one can come in.
Just some ideas...I get most from organising magazines, and from HGTV.
Please don't just get rid of them without giving the children some say in the matter. Allow them to pick out their favorites, then let them make the choice about what to do with the rest. I realized years ago when mine was young, how kids have way too much stuff, and decided against it. Mine got toys from us at Christmas and for his birthday. Relatives were encouraged to give money to be saved for college--which he really appreciated later. He mainly got things like sports equipment, books, and educational things. He was kept very active, read to regularly, and time together was spent making things, doing experiments, and talking.
Other children were jealous of the things we did with him and the time we spent together. He learned an amazing amount of things that his friends had no idea of how to do. We even spent time together gardening, picking berries, baking, etc. We put old clothes on him and gave him a paintbrush and a sheet of plywood when we painted the exterior of our house. We were the parents who led scouts, coached ball, took the kids to bowling, golf, and gymnastics. He took private swim lessons. We simply chose to spend the money on different things. His fine motor skills surpassed other students by the time he was in kindergarten. He never really missed the toys and still talks about his great childhood.
PS: While he knew better than to even ask for toys when we went to the store, he knew that I had a hard time saying 'no' to a book. And he had numerous books. We had a rule that he had to read an hour each day. To this day, he loves reading.
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