Why My Kids Have (Almost) No Toys
In our house, we’ve battled to keep it clean for years. Slowly, over time, I’m learning secrets and tips that are making this more plausible, but in general, it’s a daily struggle to keep a clean home. Part of this comes from just regular living, of that I’m sure. While other parts of it stem from the fact that we just have too much stuff. Yes, I can admit it. There is too much stuff in my house! Over the past little while though, the upstairs (the kids’ area in our home) has been staying much cleaner than what it used to. Why you ask? Because my kids have almost no toys.
I’m not one of those horrible parents who refuse to buy things for their kids. In fact, I’m probably the exact opposite, buying them too much stuff. Their rooms were full to the brim of toys – so full that they usually couldn’t find the one they were looking for to play with. So what happened to them? Where did they go?
Let me explain… We were having “one of those days”. You know the kind. The ones where the kids couldn’t agree on anything, were fighting over everything and overall just being little monsters. They destroyed property, lied about it, and were being completely disrespectful. I was literally looking up the cost of boarding school – that’s how bad of a day it was. (And, if you’re curious, it’s about $40,000 per year, per kid.) Realizing that boarding school wouldn’t happen, unless of course we won the powerball, I resulted to drastic measures. I provided the kids with a box of trashbags and told them to bag up everything that wasn’t furniture, clothes or necessities (deodorant, hairbrush, etc.).
As the bags came down, I shoved them all into my office. There were a ton of them. I never really realzied exactly how much stuff my children really had until I saw it all sitting together in one area like that. Once I verified that everything was out of their rooms, I sent them to bed. They slept for a night in a room with nothing but the things that they absolutely needed.
The next morning, I completely expected to hear fighting and complaining, as per the usual morning experience. Instead, they were up and behaving, playing a board game together. My children were getting along! That just doesn’t happen. I was so impressed, I literally stood there, the in the doorway, mouth open, staring.
Why Not Give Them Back?
After a talk with the children about why they lost their toys in the first place, ensuring that they at least said that they understood, I told them they could go and get their toys back. They were instructed to take the time to put them in a home, a place where they would belong so that keeping their room clean would be easier. I figured since everything was out, it would be a great time for them to reorganize. I left out a bucket and told them if there were any toys that they no longer wanted, things they no longer used or played with, that they could get placed in the bucket.
To my surprise, the bucket didn’t come close to holding all the toys that my kids gave up. When I came back into the room, the bucket was surrounded by trash bags. I verified with the kids that they were unwanted items and went up to see how clean they kept the upstairs. The upstairs was as beautifully clean! But yet, it was pretty empty. I voiced my concern to the kids that they really didn’t keep that many toys. It was shot down quickly, each child reassuring me that they kept all the toys that they wanted to play with.
I was skeptical, so instead of getting rid of their toys right away, I moved the “do not want toys” back into my office. I fully expected the kids to come down saying they couldn’t find XYZ or they wanted ABC back, and I was prepared to give it to them. It’s now been a week, and only one item has been requested to be returned. One item out of the hundreds that are currently in my office.
What Do They Play With Now?
Are my children suffering without? Not at all! They still have toys, but now it is only the ones that they actually play with. So while it is almost nothing compared to what they started with, they still have enough for them. Now, instead of having toys in excess, they have the proper amount.
I’ve even found that they actually play more with the toys that they did keep. Perhaps it’s easier for them to find them, or perhaps they forgot that they had them at all. I admit, I’m not sure. They also play together better. Multiple times now I’ve walked upstairs to see Barbies playing with Superheros or ponies protecting the castle. Their outside play has increased as well. They spend more time on the trampoline, in the swimming pool, riding their bikes and just running around the backyard than before as well. And while they still fight and argue, it hasn’t been to the same extent as before. Along with that, the upstairs has been clean this whole time too! If you know my children, you understand, that’s a miracle!
While I’m not saying run upstairs and trash all your kids belongings, I am suggesting a less is more attitude. At least, I’m letting you know that we had adopted that philosophy in our home, and it seems to be working wonderfully!
How many toys do your kids have?