I love that this season of life means we have toys strewn throughout our house. It’s a very sweet thing to find a dinosaur between the couch cushion or to see the same toys you played with as a child loved by a new generation of little ones. Yet, toys are the thing I de-clutter most often. I strongly believe that fewer toys are better for children. Here are some of my reasons why…
- Too many choices means nothing has value.
- Considering the aesthetic and sensory beauty of toys does NOT mean you are depriving your child. You’re teaching them from a young age to value beauty and durability.
- Overstimulating toys stifle imagination and add stress to your home life.
- Boredom is the engine of invention.
- Check your bookshelf too. Don’t waste time on twaddle.
If you need further convincing, I cannot recommend the book, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, highly enough.
First let me show you how I handle our living room, where we spend the bulk of our time during the day.
Every night I clean up any toys that are lingering in our living space. I grab this small white basket and stash all the toys in here. Occasionally I’ll take this basket upstairs to the nursery to swap out toys. This simple, 3-minute cleanup saves my sanity when the kids have gone to bed.
I highly recommend picking toy storage that doesn’t look child-ish. Jim Gaffigan says calling a restaurant “kid-friendly” is just another way of saying NOT adult-friendly. And I feel the same way about overly kid-centric toys, clothes, and furniture. Other than a pair of vintage toy boxes passed down from my grandpa, we chose neutral storage.
During newborn days, we keep a fleet of baby gear – bouncy seat, play mat, swing – out for a short season. This stuff is worth their weight and space in gold. (Our friends let us borrow these items, and we plan to pass them along to the next family expecting a baby, which really helps avoid storing these bigger toys.)
Next to our fireplace is a little shelf with books at kid level. I like mixing Evelyn and Tommy’s stuff in with ours. I’m shooting for an organized home, but I still want it to be obvious that kids live here and are valued.
90% of our toys stay in the nursery. All the toys are stashed in two vintage bins and a small bookshelf. We can quickly clean up the nursery at bedtime. I try not to let our kids sleep in a messy room, although I’m sure when they hit a certain age we’ll let them leave a toy “project” out for days at a time.
Another trick I love is a toy library. I keep 7-10 toys tucked in the closet. We only get one out at a time. The goal is to prevent overwhelm, while encouraging deeper play. The toy library also helps with cleanup, since everything isn’t available all the time (to dump out on the floor).
In terms of toy aesthetic, I don’t have only wood toys, or only “fancy” toys. In fact when babies are teething, they can literally destroy toys. So having a few “disposable” toys on hand is reasonable. Some plastics can hold up longer than wood, especially vintage toys. But if a toy is going to stay in our house – it has to earn its keep. Basically, Evie and Tommy have to LOVE playing with it, or it has to have good potential for play down the road.
There are a few toys that drive Zach and I crazy, but Evie loves. They are the type of toys that create noise pollution and make you wonder if the person who developed it was trying to drive parents nuts. BUT since Evie likes playing with it (and it’s “educational”) I keep it in a drawer for her to play with while I take a shower. It becomes a special toy for her, and I don’t have to listen to it all day long. Win-win.
The number one thing I’ve learned is that if you teach/show your child how to play, they are 100% more likely to play with that toy. I’ve also noticed Evie plays better + longer after she’s been around older kids. They are teaching her by example how to play + imagine + create. So, I try not to give up on a toy too quickly.
Simplification is a process, a lifestyle change. I’ve been posting about the way we try to live a pared-down life. Other posts you might like: Getting Started, Decluttering, Our Closets, and Mail + Paperwork. Are toys a problem in your home? How do you feel about limiting your child’s toys?