Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff your kids have accumulated? Trying to declutter but feeling guilty to get rid of any of their beloved belongings? Find out why kids actually do better and thrive when they have less stuff!
Christmas, birthdays, pretty pleases, and so on- we have so many times throughout the year that it’s become expected to get gifts for our children. So where does that leave us? With an abundance of STUFF!
I knew there was no way I wanted to raise entitled kids, so this was something that I had on my radar since my oldest was a baby, and we still ended up with a ton! It’s really something you have to keep in the front of your mind and reassess regularly, because it can so easily get out of hand in today’s consumer crazy world.
But let’s back up… why is it such a bad thing to have a lot anyway? Don’t we want to give our kids all the opportunities we can offer? Yes, but having more stuff isn’t the way to go about it!
Less Toys Allows for More Creativity
This goes hand-in-hand with why I’m not a fan of battery-operated toys. Kids will play more freely when their stuff isn’t telling them HOW to play! You don’t need every type of toy out there for them to explore different ways of playing, they will do that naturally. Ever since we limited toys, my kids spend most of their time playing make believe, inspired by books we’ve read.
There are so many wonderful toys that are open-ended, and if they don’t have something they can get creative and pretend they have whatever it is they need. My kids have basically no toys in our backyard and it is their favorite place to be. They sing with birds, play pretend, animal and bird watch, find treasures… when we don’t limit them with toys then they can play and explore in exactly the way THEY want to!
Your Kids Will Value What They Have
I am sure I speak for most of us when I say we don’t want to raise entitled kids. When we give them an overabundance of toys, that is likely what they will become. I started to notice this in my oldest when she would break something and assume daddy would either fix it or buy her a new one. Sorry dear, but if it can’t be fixed then you don’t have that toy anymore.
If there is a room filled to the brim with toys, they will hardly notice if something breaks or is missing a piece. They’ll just move on to the next thing. But when you limit their toys and take careful consideration of their interests, they will hold so much more value in their belongings.
My daughter who used to expect us to buy her something new whenever she broke a toy now has her own special tea set that she takes such good care of because she knows its value. And by value I don’t mean money- the tea set was not expensive. But it is valuable because she knows she won’t get another tea set to replace it if broken, so she cares more about it not breaking.
Less Chaos = More Intentional Play for Longer
I love this one. Give your kids less and the chaos in your home will drop wayyyy down. I’m not saying they won’t still yell and be crazy, but they won’t be yelling and acting crazy while zooming from one pile of toys to the next until the whole room is covered.
I have seen this happen! Kids that have a ton of options just cycle through everything super fast without really playing with any of it. It’s just on to the next thing over and over again.
When your kids have less toys, they will spend more time with each one. This is huge for their development because it allows them to slow down, focus, and be more intentional with how they play. Instead of throwing the Barbies around before moving onto smashing trucks, they will actually pretend a little scene with the Barbies. Maybe take them for a drive in one of the trucks. Instead of being overstimulated, they are able to actually PLAY with what they have!
What They Really Want is Quality Time
Ending on a biggie here. This is something most of us know but accidentally act differently in how we parent. Toys do not replace the quality relationship of the parent and child. What they really want is an involved parent who shows an interest in their life.
This by no means is me saying that we have to play with our kids for the entire day! In reality, I spend very little time “playing” with my kids- they are amazing at independent play and that is important to me to foster. But I also take time in my day to listen to them, look at their drawings, have them help me with household tasks, find out what they love.
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Show a genuine interest in your kids. If that does look like playing with them most of the day, that’s wonderful! But it can also be as simple as asking them about their day and actually listening to the whole answer. They don’t need a ton of toys for that, and with less stimulation it will encourage a slower day full of relationship-building.
Kids Do Better with Less
The reality is, you are doing your kids a FAVOR by minimizing the amount of items they have. If you feel like the toy situation is already out of control, there is a simple way to tackle this. Put most of their toys in storage except for a handful that cover various types of toys and/or that you know they love. I usually leave out something for building, some trucks, some Barbies, and some animal figurines.
Once the rest is stored away, see what they ask for and pay attention to what they actually use! Spend some time reading a variety of books to inspire their play. If there is something they really love to play with, take it back out. I will bet most of it will not be asked for though! And watch them blossom as their creativity takes root in the absence of all that clutter.