Lately, the two littlest in our household started to lead a lifestyle of a hoarder. They not only receive a lot of gifts (a lot of times without any specific reason or special occasion) but they also collect junklike stuff they want to keep and play with. Like colourful empty bottles, tissue paper, ribbons, etc. My eldest even steals things from the nursery, I keep finding random little objects in his pockets when we get home. We still have the top of his wardrobe full of unopened presents from his birthday. Untouched Kinder surprise eggs hiding in the kitchen which he keeps getting from the grandparents by the box of 5 (!!!). It takes a lot of effort from us to make our lovely folks to understand that they simply have to stop buying too much stuff for the children. We look like really mean parents! But, they don’t need (and they are definitely not going to get) a surprise egg every day. We are running out of space to store toys they are not playing with. Lots of them break or stop working within a few weeks or months and end up in landfill. So I decided to declutter. And declutter regularly.
These are my reasons, but if this isn’t enough reason to declutter and cut down on impulse buys, here’s some more:
1. Encouraging innovative thinking
They simply have to invent plays and games to entertain themselves. For children, this supposed to be a natural way of discovering the world and part of their development. Like using empty food cartons and boxes to create a shop instead of buying a miniature plastic toy shop set. (With 120 pieces.) Or make some. Just use a real jute bag when they go pretend play shopping. Use carton boxes and build a car. They will soon start to change their way of thinking and play with what’s available.
2. Learning to ask for permission
Naturally, some things are forbidden and they are not toys. Some things they should never touch. They will learn sooner what objects in the household are not allowed to play with and what are they used for.
3. Becoming more creative
Going hand in hand with innovative thinking, it enables children to make use of things. Use that tissue paper collection to cover the racing car made of an empty cardboard box. Cut out numbers of paper. The car also needs wheels, lamps, a car key maybe?
4. Playing independently
They engage better with the fewer toys they have. The experience is talking over here. Not long ago, my firstborn always wanted to play with the IPad. (We use IPad strategically, and he gets a half an hour here and there, 2-3x a week.) He was BORED. Wondering around, trying to figure it out what to play with, picked some toy up, played with that for a minute or two, then wandering around again aimlessly. So we put two-third of the toys away. All of a sudden the remaining toys became interesting. Why? Because:
5. Too much stuff causes stress
Not just in children, it effects everyone. I personally feel very anxious when the mess is bigger what I than I can tolerate and things are not at their normal place or not being put away. So, when my little boy becomes anxious he starts to run around, from wall to wall in the hall, sometimes for 10-15 minutes till he gets very tired. This is how he copes with overstimulation and anxiety. Nowadays, this happens a lot less since we’re doing conscious efforts to declutter regularly, he’s a calmer and more cooperative too.
6. Less toys teaches the idea of sharing and taking turns
Sharing is an important milestone in social communication and the one which parents find quite frustrating whilst learning is still in progress. At every play date, every time at the soft play or on the play ground all you can hear is “Share, sweetheart, share please!” Teaching taking turns and sharing becomes easier when they have less toys. Also, they will be less selfish. A child, who gets everything on a silver plate believes it’s just natural and soon starts to have demands, often not reasonable ones.
7. Encourage imaginative play
For parents like me, this is an important issue. My eldest has never been great at imaginative play, he still needs lots of help to get started. Imaginative play is a key milestone in a child’s development. With all the talking, music making, interactive toys there’s little room left for the imagination to fly. If they have difficulties to get to use their imagination, like my boy, we have found it’s a good idea to play stories from their favourite books. Creating our very own mini theatre.
8. Consume less and consciously
Buying less and carefully select a few toys only means buying less rubbish which will be thrown away in no time. It saves money, tears, and teaches them to choose wisely. It’s a greener approach. It teaches them patience and that it’s worth waiting for something. I remember how long I waited for my first Barbie doll, how much I wanted to have one and how long I cherished and looked after the first one I got. I want my children to have a sweet memory like that.
9. Less tidying up
Bonus. How much time do you spend with tidying up? How about adding to that all the time you spend arguing and negotiating with your children about it? Yep. Thought so. This can be also saved by downsizing the toy arsenal. The children would be more willing to tidy up as the result is within an easier reach.
Maybe some more can be added to the list, did I miss something? Please leave a comment.