When we posted about 20 Reasons to Say YES! to Less Toys. More Play., one of our readers asked how to get kids to believe us when we say that we should get rid of some of the toys. We are happy to have today with us Jennifer from Study At Home Mama to assist us with the ways we can include our children in toy purge:
There are so many posts out there about how to rotate toys, or how to fix toys that seem beyond repair, or how to teach kids how to put their toys away… And while all of these pieces of information are great and have their place, I can’t help but think there’s something to be said about involving our children in purging toys.
This whole series is about understanding that when we have less, we can appreciate more . This whole year, I am dedicating myself towards moving towards a more minimalist lifestyle so that I can focus on what matters and spend less time on managing stuff or things that don’t contribute to the life I want to live.
And the same goes for our kids.
The more the “excess” is cut away, the more that they can focus on what truly matters and not experience sensory overwhelm. They appreciate what they do have, and they treat those possessions better.
For some children, it is best to leave them out of the toy purge. But I would say that most children can handle participating in at least a portion of a toy purge, if they are set up for success, and the benefits of allowing them to help purge their own toys can be huge.
How to Set Children Up for the Toy Purge
Don’t lead with “you have too many toys, we need to get rid of some.”
That’s just asking for trouble.
Instead, involve your children first in your own purge. Maybe it’s just one drawer of clothing, maybe it’s a full-scale kitchen downsize. Have them help you with the busy work of the task, but also engage them in conversation about why you are purging.
How does getting rid of things you don’t need a family value?
How is getting rid of those things going to improve your life?
How is getting rid of things hard?
Where are these things going to go when you get rid of them?
It may be able to naturally work in a suggestion about purging your child’s toys, and it might be helpful to be specific, for example, “Why don’t we try to purge the dress-up box after lunch?” rather than, “Let’s purge your toys next!”
Why Involve Children in the Toy Purge?
There are so many benefits to having children help in some degree with the toy purging process, but just a few of them are:
Framing the purge with your family values and then following through can give your child a deeper appreciation of your family’s values and what living according to one’s values looks like.
Readers of my blog may be used to seeing the presence of a certain “green baby” in almost all pictures of my daughter. Well, there was a time when I wouldn’t have thought twice about boxing up that doll, even when she started mentioning this mysterious “green baby” at bedtime or at preschool.
Just the mere presence of this doll was comforting for my daughter, and she was developing an attachment to her baby without really playing much with her. Even now, knowing that my daughter LOVES her green baby, I am still a bit taken aback when I look at pictures and notice how green baby is nearly always there.
Involving children in the purge can help you prevent removing toys that they like more than you might realize, because continuously purging toys that our children have genuine attachments to can make our children more likely to hoard and develop unreasonable attachments to things.
Being able to choose which toys stay can help create more appreciation for the toys that remain.
Many children don’t actually play with all of their toys because the choice of “what to play with” is so overwhelming. Once the excess is eliminated, children start focusing and playing more.
While children are choosing which toys to keep, they need to understand the responsibilities that are involved in ownership and know that they are choosing to be responsible when they are keeping those toys.
During our current possessions purge, I am refusing to resell anything other than books that can be brought directly to a book reseller and purchased on the spot. Instead, everything is being intentionally brought to charities that can benefit from the items.
It would be a lot easier to just drop them at the curb, or at the closest donation box, but knowing that our items are going to people who need them (and for free) makes the purging process easier.
Reduce the “I wants”
You might be shocked by how little your children request new toys when they start playing more with the toys that they already have.
Now, I don’t want to pretend that purging toys with kids is going to be completely easy, but it’s likely going to be easier than you thought! Try not to get too caught up on purging all in one shot, instead focus on the progress that your child is making and the habit you are helping them create.
Make purging toys as positive of an experience as possible, and be open to repeating the process several times — maybe a new Monday night ritual until you feel the purge is complete.
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Tomorrow we are back in Less Toys. More Play. series with article about importance of play, both for kids and their parents!
All 24 articles we will be sharing during February have been written by a number of prominent family friendly bloggers (some educators, all parents). These articles will be collected and you will find them on our page Less Toys. More Play.
Mihaela runs Best Toys 4 Toddlers blog and loves to come up with new ideas how to use old toys her 2 daughters keep leaving on the floor to slip over. She loves them despite the fact that they call her mommy few hundred times a day, and it makes her nuts.