It’s a problem that most of us parents know all too well. Your kids are constantly saying “I’m bored” and “There’s nothing to do,” while you look around the house and see an overwhelming amount of toys, games, books and art supplies.
Although parents and grandparents mean well, most kids have way too many toys and games and are not only overwhelmed, but also have a passive relationship with their things expecting their toys to entertain them instead of them active playing with their toys. This prevalent problem is leading many families to take a minimalistic approach to toys and games striving to focus on quality versus quantity in an attempt to declutter their houses.
Here are five simple steps to help parents conquer the clutter and pare down the excess of toys and games to ones that enrich your lives.
While many parents will quickly agree that their kids have too much stuff, they often fail to recognize that they are setting the lead for this with their own amount of possessions.
The first step for parents is to be a good model for your kids by minimizing your things. Most of our houses are stuffed with full closets, packed toy rooms and brimming cabinets.
Even when we don’t realize it, our kids are watching us when we constantly order off of Amazon or fill the shopping cart at Target. We are teaching them that acquiring more stuff makes us happy, when actually more sometimes can be worse. As good role models, we need to teach them healthy boundaries in the regards to the things we own by making a resolution to own less stuff and be grateful for the things that we do have.
Look online for a declutter challenge such as the 30-day declutter challenge. By minimizing your possessions and decluttering your life, you will experience less stress and burden of clutter, and more money and time for the things that really matter to your family. In addition, by donating unused items, you will be teaching your child compassion, generosity and gratitude. In the long run, your children will learn the importance of moderation, financial responsibility and gratitude from you. And, all of this should start in your closet, not theirs.
The next step involves working with your child to pare down their belongings to the things that matter the most to them.
According to research, children who play in environments with less toys tend to be more focused, imaginative and perceptive. In other words, too many toys and games actually prevent kids from being creative and shorten their attention spans. In addition, kids with less toys learn how to develop better social skills with other kids and adults and learn how to take better care of the things they have. Are you convinced yet? If so, it’s time take a long weekend or every other Saturday to weed through their playrooms and closets and simplify. Start by helping them make a trash pile for broken toys or games with missing parts. Then, make a donation pile for duplicate games or toys that they have outgrown.
Keep their favorite toys and any classics that you might want to save for later. Last, find a way to organize the toys that you keep in a way that will be easy for them to manage. You will all be surprised by how much you enjoy having less stuff and engaging more deeply with the things that are the most meaningful.
The easiest way to prevent a life of overwhelming clutter is simply to buy less stuff. Recent research shows that in the United States, the average ten-year old child owns approximately 250 toys each and the average parents will spend an additional $500 per child on new toys each year. However, most children only play with the same ten to twelve toys on a daily basis.
Now is the time to start limiting your toy intake. Start by making “please no gift” requests for any birthday parties you plan for your child. Then, set moderate limits at the holidays. If well-meaning family members want to buy your kids presents, prepare a short gift list with a few solid things that you know your child will really like. Or, instead of toys and games, ask that they consider purchasing gift cards to an event or activity that they can experience together like a membership to the zoo or movie tickets. Click here for a list of more non-toy gifts.
Because you never know what kids will like from week to week, you definitely don’t want to get rid of everything. They may decide next week that they want to play with the cars that they didn’t care about last week. Keep toys choices fresh and interesting by storing some in plastic bins out of sight and then rotating them in the mix. This will keep your child from being overwhelmed by too many toys or games at once and also keep them engaged with the ones that are accessible.
When you bring toys back in the rotation, they will feel like there is something exciting and new to play with. Be sure to keep their very favorite toys out all of the time instead of in rotation so that they don’t feel like they are missing them.
You can also rotate toys on a seasonal basis so that the legos that are fun to play with on a cold winter day are out of the way in the summer when the outdoor games are out and ready to use. Along with this, encourage your child to help clean up one set of toys before they get out another. This will help keep things organized and help keep them from being overwhelmed.
Most importantly, choose your games and toys wisely. Every parent wants their children to be happy and have things that enrich their lives. Instead of giving them the latest flashy toy, search for toys that develop their imagination and creativity and classic games that promote teamwork and strategy.
Growing minds need toys and games that will grow with them like building toys, role play costumes, action figures and games for teaching social skills and sportsmanship. Starlux Games offers games that are a lot of action for a small amount of shelf space, plus they are great ways to be creative, active and socially interactive. All of their games involve multiple play variations keeping the games fresh and still exciting as kids mature. Their game CAPTURE THE FLAG REDUX is the classic game revolutionized with glow-in-the-dark LED lights. Kids will love the glowing nighttime excitement and parents will love the fact that their kids are learning teamwork and strategy. GLOW BATTLE is a an active glow-in-the-dark battle game that is a wonderful way to build social and creative thinking skills. Both are available here.
The featured image in this post is by U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Diana M. Cossaboom and can be found here.