Photo: Darren Bockman

Solution for Toy Overload

Minimalism is not only a new trend, it’s an eco-friendly mindset shift. We don’t need, or even want, all the things we own. So why do we have them? Because it gives us a quick fix, even buying toys for our kids gives us a high. Toys toys toys!

Do your kids have way too many? Well, maybe it’s time to downsize that plastic pile. Below are a few examples, and tips, on how to convince your kids they don’t need everything they have.  Here we go …

Give 30-40% of your kids toys away

“Too many toys prevent kids from fully developing their gift of imagination”, explains Joshua Becker. Imagine this scenario: a teacher removing every single toy from her kindergarten class. A German teacher ran this experiment alongside some public health workers to discover that even with no toys, and after a few weeks of boredom, kids quickly learned how to use their own surroundings to invent games and remain entertained.

Sell or exchange 10% of those toys back to your kids

Sound absurd? It’s not.

If you want to teach your kids about gratitude AND how to be financially literate/knowledgeable, than I have a handy solution for you: a family toy store. Using your kids own toys, create the ultimate toy store by reselling the toys back to your kids when they get tired of their current ones. They’ll appreciate them more.

This started for us by simply cycling out old toys from our storage room every month or two. We would put their things on a shelf in a neatly organized storage room (ha ha ha!!) and they would exchange something from their current active collection with something else they haven’t used in awhile. Instead of them always having access to e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, this system saved us from boredom and having to replenish their toy shelf with new items. It’s like Christmas morning every month, but with the things they already have.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Family Toy Market/Exchange

  • Have your children actively involved in this new system by getting them to set aside half of their current toys. Tell them you are going to give some away (they choose which one’s go) and the others will be put away for awhile.
  • Make a pile of half the toys. Decide which one’s are going to goodwill.
  • With the remaining toys, make a space in a storage room or closet. Each shelf is a certain price point or of a certain value. For example: a Paw Patrol character is worth the same as the spiderman figurine.
  • Use values (amounts) that they can grasp, like $0.50 or $1. Something they will likely have in their piggy banks.
  • Using garage sale stickers, or tape, price the items they are storing, but do this together. Spiderman may be more valuable to one kid and not the other (regardless of how much the toy actually costs), so make sure they have a say in the process.
  • Schedule a day every month to cycle out the toys (Friday evenings is a good time for this) .

Establish a toy-for-toy Ratio

Create a ratio to know when enough is enough. We can’t control the gifts we receive from others on their birthdays or during the holidays, so have your kids understand that if your ratio is, say,1-1 [one new toy in, one old toy out] they will have to give up some old things to make room for the new. Besides, this system will show you precisely which toys interest them the most. My oldest son for example, loves his wooden Thomas the Train set and has actually passed on gifts, like  drone!, in order to keep it. Talk about gratitude.

Know When to Let Go

We, as in us mommy’s, tend to have sentimental attachments to baby stuff, maybe even more so than our own kids. That first teddy bear that is sitting on a shelf collecting dust, the first teething ring, or even the first cool train track, are things we want to keep because they were a first. They contain memories after all. But let me honest, THEY SUCK! They are just things taking up space, collecting dirt, making our space look junky and cluttered.  Let – it – go momma.

This past summer I had my first garage sale since the boys were born (they are now 4 and 5 years old). While I spent the last few years giving stuff away and bringing other things to goodwill, I never knew how much baby crap we had…and all the toys! Wow. It was tough for me to watch one grandma take away my boys first tricycle and another mom-to-be buy garbage bags of my boy’s first outfits. My heart sank. But later that day as I opened the door to our clean storage room holding the wad of money I just made, I was SO relieved. Letting it go made my summer.

I am not poo pooing toys, they are actually great. I am just pro-creativity and pro-tidiness. By having less toys around forces your little one’s to be imaginative. It forces them to get outside more, to be less selfish, to want to create, become way more resourceful, and more importantly, to appreciate what they have.

So, get those boxes ready and start packing up. Good luck!

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