11 WAYS CHILDREN BENEFIT FROM FEWER TOYS
Decluttering toys was one of the best things I ever did to simplify my home and life. However, it wasn’t just me that enjoyed the benefits, my kids benefitted too! In this article I’m sharing 11 ways children benefit from having fewer toys.
TOYS VS ME
I’ve always encouraged my children to put their toys away once they’ve finished playing with them. However there were always a few stragglers that got left behind and it was me that would end up clearing them away.
I waged constant war against the toys and no matter how many rounds of tidying up I did during the day, I would still be clearing toys away in the evening when I’d much rather be doing something else.
Deciding to declutter the toys was one of the best things I ever did. There were fewer toys, which meant less tidying, less picking up and less clearing away. Less stress and more time for me to do other things.
But it wasn’t just me that felt the benefits, my children did too but in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
RESEARCH AND FURTHER READING
There have been several research studies which show the impact of a child’s environment on their approach to and behaviour when playing.
Although this article is based on my own personal experience of a minimalist approach to toys, I thought it might be helpful to share a couple of links to research and studies on the impact of environment on children and their play and development.
A SIDE NOTE ON SIMPLIFYING GENTLY!
My site is about simplifying life. I write about decluttering and the minimalist lifestyle. I think there are some wonderful benefits (for young and old alike!) in living with less stuff and making time and space for other things but I advocate you do it gently and in a way that suits you and your family.
My home is not particularly minimalist. I have stuff where I probably shouldn’t have and yes, the toys take over from time to time but I’m still purposeful about what I keep. I stick to the guiding principles of only keeping in my home and life what supports, enhances and adds value to my life in some way. And, I’ve learnt to let go of the stuff that doesn’t.
I’d love for you to read about fewer toys or less stuff on my site and approach it with an open mind. You don’t need to get rid of everything, or even lots of things, unless you want to and you’re clear on why you’re doing it. Never get rid of things just for the sake of it or because you feel that’s what you’re being told to do. Whether it’s toys, kitchen utensils or vintage record collections, you get to say what’s clutter and what’s not.
That being said, I hope this article (and my site) helps give you some tips on what might be cluttering your life and how to deal with it!
11 WAYS CHILDREN BENEFIT FROM FEWER TOYS
Here are some of the ways children benefit from having fewer toys that my own children and I have experienced in our home. I’m not a child psychologist or play specialist but I have noticed these changes in my own kids as we aspire to simplify our home and life. Perhaps you might recognise them too in your own home?
1. Creates more space
The first and most obvious benefit to my children was that they had more physical space in which to play.
Most of their toys are kept in their bedroom as we only have a small house and no dedicated playroom. They bring out what they want to play with into the rest of the house and when finished they return it to their bedroom to get the next toy (this took a while to get them into the habit – it didn’t magically happen straightaway!). Their bedroom isn’t huge and they share it with bunk beds, so having fewer toys made a huge impact on the space available.
We no longer had loads of storage space, boxes, bins and overflowing cuddly toys. Instead the girls can have more space to move around, they can see and use the floor and have plenty of room to play on it.
2. Increases creativity
They tended to play with the same old toys anyway and seldom played with the others. If they did, it was usually to the point where they got them out, played with them for a couple of minutes and then went back to playing with their favourites.
By decluttering the toys, you’re reducing your children’s choice, but you’re encouraging them to play with their existing toys in creative, new ways.
3. Avoids overstimulation
Decluttering the toys will not only help you by removing some of the stuff that you have to look after, but it also benefits your children by allowing them to focus on the toys they do have.
Children get overstimulated when they have too much choice and too many options. They don’t really take the time to play with a particular toy, but instead tend to just pick it up and move onto the next one that catches their eye really quickly. I noticed my kids were calmer and more focused and deliberate in what they were playing with.
4. Develops resourcefulness and inventiveness
If your child doesn’t have many toys then they’ll find different ways of playing with the toys they do have.
This is why I let my children keep toys that are multi-functional and can be used in lots of different settings, for example, dressing up clothes and mini figures. They can go on all sorts of adventures, be used in a variety of stories and role-play games and won’t limit your child’s use of imagination and story-telling skills.
5. Enhances social skills and interaction with others
When a child has lots of toys they don’t need to play with anyone else.
When you remove the toys, a child is much more likely to find another child to play with. It develops their social skills and awareness and encourages them to develop relationships with people, rather than things.
6. They don’t need to be entertained, they find a way to entertain themselves
It goes back to the kind of childhood we probably experienced ourselves, before technology and advertising took over.
Children will learn to find happiness and fun wherever they are, regardless of whether they have a toy or toys to do the entertaining for them.
7. They become less materialistic
When children stop expecting or owning physical toys they become more aware of other, less tangible, things that can make them happy.
They enjoy playing with other children more, playing outside, role play games and just mucking around in sand, on grass, in trees, in playgrounds and gardens. They don’t need actual toys to make them happy and they learn that happiness isn’t just bought or a quick high when you go shopping.
Kids learn to find happiness in other ways, rather than just a trip to the toy shop.
8. Encourages imagination
When it comes to choosing which toys to keep I suggest keeping those toys that encourage creative and imaginative play.
Some examples are Lego, blocks, dressing up clothes and little figures. These can be used in a variety of ways and situations with a bit of imagination and role-play. I’m also happy to buy art and craft supplies because my kids love to draw, paint and be creative.
The toys I don’t keep are the ones that do all the play for you. The ones with noises, lights and that can’t be used in different ways.
9. Develops appreciation
If your children are used to having lots of toys they become familiar with the feeling of excess. They don’t learn that possessions have to be earned rather than expected, they don’t learn to value each and every toy that they have and make the best of it.
Their expectations are set too high for such an early age and they don’t appreciate the value of what they already own. Once they’ve used a toy up, they will look for the next one to entertain them, and the next and the next, never satisfied with what they’ve got.
Taking away the majority of their toys will help them appreciate and value the ones they do have.
10. Teaches kids to look after their belongings
When your children have less toys it becomes more important to them that each one looks good, works well and does the job for which it’s intended.
They’re much more likely to look after their toys if they don’t have something else to go and play with, or a replacement should it get broken or lost.
11. Helps them understand that some children aren’t as fortunate
In the beginning, when I asked my children to help me declutter their toys and I explained why I was doing it, we talked about where their unwanted toys will go.
We threw the broken ones away but donated the others to charity. The process helped my children understand how lucky we are and that there are plenty of children who have less than we do. They love the thought of helping others by sharing their toys.
My kids are now quite happy to declutter their toys regularly as they know they’re going to a great cause.
These are just some of the ways that my children have benefitted from having fewer toys.
SIMPLIFYING LIFE WITH KIDS
Having fewer toys may come with benefits for my kids but it certainly helped make my home a little easier to manage too. This in turn freed up time which I could use for playing with my kids, enjoying experiences with my family and even carving out a little extra time for myself!
If you’d like to learn about other ways to simplify home and family life, here are some articles which you might find helpful:
- Minimalism and motherhood – How living with less helped me be a more present and calm mother
- How to create a calm, family home – Tips to help you create a calm home environment even when life feels a little chaotic
- 10 simple household routines to make life easier – Ideas to help you run your home, the simple way
- 5 tips for introvert mothers – Gentle, helpful ideas for mothers who need space to recharge
- How to declutter your child’s artwork – How to manage the influx of art and craft projects
DECLUTTERING THE TOYS IN YOUR HOME
In this article I shared just some of the ways that children benefit from fewer toys and which we noticed through our own experience of simplifying our home and life.
Although my decluttering projects met with a little resistance and hesitation in the beginning, I’m very glad we persevered.
Start slowly, with gentle encouragement and involve your kids in the decluttering process as much as possible and in way that they understand.
If you’d like more help and support with decluttering your home, try my free Declutter Starter Kit.
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I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!