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Declutter | Family & Motherhood | Simplify Your Home

Too many toys! 7 ways to simplify and improve play

What’s inside: Too many toys around the house can make it difficult for children to concentrate, learn, and develop important skills around play. Discover what common problems so many toys create, and 7 tips to help you cut the toy clutter in your home today.

Toys are big business.  According to a study conducted by the Toy Industry Association in 2020, the global toy market totaled 95 billion dollars, with the United States accounting for roughly ⅓ of that total (in 2021, it jumped to $104 billion!).  

As part of the study, 2,000 parents with children between 2-12 were surveyed about their toy purchasing habits.  The results? The study found the average child receives over $6,600 worth of toys before they reach their teens.  On average, each child in the US receives 41 new toys per year (not counting hand-me-downs or those bought second-hand).

Is it any wonder we are drowning in toys and feeling overwhelmed by the plastic chaos that has overtaken our homes?

little girl sitting on floor with too many toys surrounding her

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Why toys are valuable for child development

It’s important to recognize that toys do have value. There are benefits to owning them, which is why we have so many to begin with. Some of the benefits of playing with toys include:

  • Improved concentration skills
  • Better problem solving skills
  • More creative playtime
  • Increased sensory awareness
  • Improved language and communication skills.

The issue lies in the ole saying, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing.”

The problem with too many toys

Bored, disengaged kids.

When children are overwhelmed with choices, they often don’t know where to start. They become fixated on acquiring new toys instead of playing with the ones they have.

More sibling fighting

Too many toys can leads to more fights among siblings as they compete for attention and ownership.

Shorter attention spans

Children have a harder time focusing on any one thing when they are constantly bombarded with new stimuli. This can lead to shorter attention spans and difficulty concentrating.

girl distracted by pencil in class

Sensory overload

Too many sights, sounds, and textures, can lead to sensory overload. This can be especially true for kids who are already sensitive to stimulus, such as kids with ADHD or autistic children. Reducing the amount of visual stimuli & clutter can go a long way in creating a calm environment for sensory sensitive children.

Less appreciation

Kids that have too many toys often don’t appreciate the ones that they have. Toys aren’t regularly played with or cared for due to the volume of items they have to maintain and care for.

So what’s a parent to do? How can you avoid having so many toys while still providing your children with the benefits that come from playing with them?

Here are 7 ways to avoid having too many toys

Be mindful of toy clutter

Becoming more being intentional about what toys are played with and which toys seem to get regularly passed by can help you simplify your home’s play spaces.

Identify the toys that get played with regularly, and work to organize them so that they are on display or easily accessible. This enables your kiddos to easily spy their favorites and quickly get to playing (versus having to sift through countless toys to find what they want, dumping dozen of items out in the process). Think about the ages and stages of your kids and design toy organization in a way that makes sense for your family.

Being mindful about toy clutter might also mean being more judicious about what toys own sacred storage space in your home and which toys get kindly passed onto other kids who can enjoy them now (versus living in the basement for 20+ years until your kids’ kids are old enough to play with them).

a simplified play room after getting rid of too many toys

Declutter toys that aren’t used

Take a look at your child’s toy collection and part with anything that they no longer play with. You can give these toys to charity or to friends with younger children. I highly encourage parents to make their children a part of this process. Although it’s more work to teach kids how to simplify (just like it’s more work to teach kids to clean than to just pick up yourself), learning discernment and how to care for their things is a life skill that will serve them all the days of their lives.

Choose new toys carefully

Be thoughtful about the new toys that you bring into your home. When a birthday or holiday rolls around, think about what your child really needs (and I don’t just mean wants). If they have too many stuffed animals, don’t buy them another one. Instead, focus on quality over quantity and choose a few high-quality , well-made toys that will last.

Kids constantly complaining they’re bored even when they have a playroom stuffed full of toys?

Discover how open-ended toys are the magical secret to less stuff and more play!

Choose the right toys

All toys are not created equal. Some toys are more open-ended and encourage creative play, while others are more rigid and have a single purpose. When you’re decluttering toys or choosing new ones, think about the types of toys that offer the most value for playtime. These are typically the toys that are more open-ended and can be used in a variety of ways.

Some of our favorites include:

Create a toy rotation

Many times I hear mamas complain about the sheer volume of toys their kids have, such as 50 Hot Wheel cars, but express that they can’t get rid of any because their child plays with all of them. Now I would argue that kids can whittle down collections to more manageable amounts that are easier to care for, but in lieu of parting with any of them, there is another solution: toy rotations.

A toy rotation is simply a way of managing the toys in your home so that your children have access to a variety of options, without being overwhelmed with too many choices. Rotations are also great for creating novelty because they get excited to see the “new” toys every time the next rotation comes out.

a playroom with a teepee and small table

Toy rotations can take a bit of work to set up, but once they are established, they are super easy to maintain and save you loads of time cleaning up each day.

Rotations are particularly effective when your kids are new to decluttering and might be more reserved about letting go of things. If you have a highly sensitive child at your home, like we do, toy rotation can be a life saver. It greatly reduces the amount of toys out at once, while honoring your kiddos feeling about their things.

We used rotations in our house for several years (although we have since moved away from them now that toys are significantly more simplified since incorporating our kids’ play personalities).

Kids constantly complaining they’re bored even when they have a playroom stuffed full of toys?

Discover how open-ended toys are the magical secret to less stuff and more play!

Choose experiences over stuff

One of the best ways to avoid having too many toys is to choose experiences over stuff. For example, when my dino loving boy was two, we took him to a drive through dinosaur exhibit. He squealed with excitement the entire time! We made some amazing memories that day, and it didn’t require us to add any toys to our home. This year, our plan is to take him to our local aquarium for the day, as his new fascination is sea creatures. Petting a sting ray and sharks will be way more exciting to him than playing with toy versions, and it will help us not to add more toys to our home. Win, win!

Instead of buying your child a new toy every time they accomplish something or have a birthday, think about ways that you can create memorable experiences together instead.


Our Favorite

Experiences

  • Going on a special outing (to the park, out to eat, to a movie, etc.)
  • Doing an activity together (painting, hiking, visiting a farm, etc.)
  • Going on a mini vacation (a camping trip, to the beach, etc)
  • Making a special treat together (baking cookies, making homemade pizzas, etc.)

Curate toys based on your child’s play personality

Not all children play the same way, and that’s okay! Just because one child likes to play with a certain type of toy doesn’t mean that every child will. Pay attention to the way your child likes to play and curate their toys accordingly.

sensory table with sand and shells after getting rid of too many toys

If they are a more hands-on, physical child who likes to touch and feel everything, they will probably prefer toys that they can manipulate with their hands, such as blocks, puzzles, or kinetic sand. If they are more of a visual learner, they might prefer art supplies or building sets. And if they are more of a dreamer, they might prefer stuffed animals or dolls.

Every child is unique and will likely enjoy playing with a variety of different types of toys, but you can create a toy collection that is better suited to their individual needs and interests by paying attention to their natural inclinations.

If the idea of learning about your child’s unique play style sounds intriguing to you, I invite you to join me inside my toy simplifying program, Save the Play. Together, we’ll uncover your child’s play personality and work to simplify the toy chaos so that their imagination and creativity can blossom.

Ready to simplify toys based on your child’s play personality?

Avoid having so many toys

Toys can be wonderful tools to spark your child’s creativity, deepen their learning, and support their brain’s development. However, too many toys can have the opposite effect.

By following these 7 tips, you can begin reducing the toy clutter in your home so that your kids play better for longer and you get a reprieve from picking up all the toys! It’s time to create a more peaceful home environment for you and your kiddos.

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