The playroom in my house looks like a tornado blew through it. And by playroom, I mean living room. We don’t have an official room for the kids to keep their toys in, so they end up scattered all over the house. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped on or tripped over a Lego piece or Hot Wheels car. I often find animal figures or other creatures (including cracker crumbs, half licked lollipops and sticky fruit snacks) stuffed in between the cushions of my couch. It drives me crazy to have all this “stuff” take up residence in my home.
So I wonder, do our children really need all these toys? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, I think toys are an important part of the childhood experience. But there are many benefits to keeping your children’s toy collection to a minimum. Consider these reasons before you fork out the money for another action figure or stuffed animal.
1. Boredom Sparks Creativity
Even though I had plenty of toys as a child, I got bored sometimes. And the older your children get, the less entertained they will be by toys. I would often wander out to my yard and “act out” scenes from a pretend movie I was starring in. I would walk on the rocks by the side of my house, pretending to be a lost girl, looking for adventure. Or I would put on my tape recorder in my bedroom and pretend I was hosting a radio show, making sound effects and everything.
I suppose I was inspired by movies I watched, or maybe it was just my natural passion for performing. The point is, my childhood boredom forced me to get creative with how I spent my time, and that creativity later earned me a Bachelor’s degree in music. Now I am a professional writer and blogger, so I’d say that my lack of toys (or lack of interest) as a child played a huge role in me becoming the creative person that I am today.
2. Toys Become More Valuable
The more “stuff” your kids have, the less valuable it becomes. Why is one toy more special than the others? In reality, most toys are created equal. And when children don’t see the value in something, they are less likely to take care of it. But if your children have a very small toy collection, they would better understand the importance of caring for their things. If there are only five toys, and three get broken, that doesn’t leave much to play with. But if there are twenty toys and three get broken, your children still see a bunch of options. Less toys means more appreciation for belongings.
3. Children Gain Independence
Whether you have one child or multiple children, a lack of toys will help your kid(s) develop a sense of independence. With fewer toys to choose from, the options for children entertaining themselves are slim. And if mom or dad won’t give them ideas, your children will have to discover ways to stay busy on their own.
I don’t know if my childhood has anything to do with it, but I’m a very independent person who moved across the country, away from my family by myself in my early 20s. Without the life skills I learned when I was younger, I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far. When children are unable to rely on toys for entertainment, they find ways to preoccupy themselves, which gives them more independence.
4. Life is Less Stressful
Clutter can be stressful. And not just for moms. When children grow up in a functional, organized space, they feel less overwhelmed. It makes sense. When your home is full of piles and pieces, it’s hard to find things. It often means you are rushed when trying to get somewhere. But when there are not as many toys to worry about, you can take more time to prepare for things. You won’t feel as hurried, and you’ll enjoy life so much more!
5. Kids Can Practice Sharing
It’s easy to share when you have lots of toys. But when the pickings are slim, sharing isn’t as fun. However, the lesson of sharing is made stronger when children experience the pain of doing it. A room full of toys that kids can take turns playing with doesn’t really get the point across. If there are only two dolls to play with and three girls at the play date, someone has to be first to get the short end of the stick. And this is where the true value in learning to share comes in. When children realize what sharing really means, they will not only learn to do it more often, they will be better equipped to handle similar disappointments later in life.
6. Mom Will Be Happy
Happy wife, happy life. Happy mama, no more drama! (I just made that up, so I don’t know if that’s true.) I know that when my living room is clean and organized, I feel more at peace. And when I’m more at peace, my children, my husband, and my home are more at peace. It isn’t just toys that clutter my house. It’s “stuff” in general. If we can make our children’s toy collections smaller, we can focus on the bigger picture. Family time, making memories, baking, snuggling, laughing. All those things that are truly important will have a larger presence in our lives. This will lead to more fulfilling lives as mothers, and that’s a win for everyone!