Dealing with Toys

My two youngest children are 15 and almost 13, so really we are way out of the toy scene nowadays. But I was reminded about this a few weeks ago when I had my grandson here for a few days. I got out just one big Rubbermaid tote of blocks, wooden train tracks and Duplo Lego’s. And my living room was a disaster in no time at all.. LOL.. My thoughts, “Aw yes, I remember these days well”.

I was also reminded of this when I went to a friend’s house. She has twin boys, with lots of loving and adoring aunts who lavishly spend on the boys. This equals a house FULL of toys and stuffed animals and a constant issue in how to keep it all organized and some sense of order in the home.

I have this philosophy that I have developed after having 8 children and that is, “less is best”. Nothing like too many toys to make a child very confused. If the mess of toys seems overwhelming or confusing to me, you can bet it is even more so for the child.

Here are some of the ways I have dealt with this… get rid of toys that are no longer played with. Simplify your toys to just a few tried and true tested toys. Then keep those in totes and rotate them as your child has an interest in them. Things that I hung onto over the years were: Lego’s, wooden blocks, wooden train set, dolls and baby clothes and a couple misc. doll accessories, cars & trucks, various stuffed animals, a doll house w/wood furniture and a few little dolls and a farm animal set. Now of course my kids have outgrown these items and I keep only two totes with toys for visiting children and my grandchildren. But basically that was it. Other things certainly made their way into my home, but they never last too long before my kids lost interest. Then I gave them away. Keep the toys simple and this will make clean up time easy and the confusion down to a minimum.

As to how many toys to allow them to have out at once? Well, I had this rule. When I said it was time to clean up the toys I gave them 10 minutes to do the job. Any toys left out were put away in the other storage totes. I made sure that they could pick them up quickly and they had plenty of motivation to do so!

We live in a society that has says more and more is the goal. Children truly do not need a huge confusing mess of toys to play with all the time. One of my favorite book series to read to my children was the Little House on the Prairie Series (I read it countless time to them over the years). One thing I took note of was the small amount of toys Laura and Mary and Carrie grew up with. And they were happy, and found ways to occupy their time and used a lot of imagination, which is wonderful for a child. When life is simple children learn to use their minds and have fun with what they have. Plus it helps mom keep some type of order in the house as well.


  1. I've been meaning to sort through all of Owens toys, so thank you for posting this and giving me that extra motivation!!! If he gets mad at me, I'll just tell him his Grandma told me to do it ;o)
    PS- we grew up reading little house on the prairie also! loved those books!

  2. Great post! I agree completely! We have three small kids and do exactly the same thing. I think having less allows them to care for their toys better too - makes them appreciate their stuff! A question - what would you do if a child came over to your house and didn't treat the toys with respect and didn't clean them up and your kids do?

  3. I have the challenge of running a small home childcare out of my home. Naturally, I need enough toys to keep everyone happy and occupied. I have learned to put some toys in small totes and then rotate them each season. This makes the toys seem 'new' again when they resurface! Some toys need to stay available for most of the year, you noted, things like: cars and trains and trucks, legos and blocks, farm stuff, doll care and dress-up, puzzles and books. I DO rotate some of the puzzles and books, however.

    I also get the kids to help me clean up. We do a 10 minute clean-up before lunch, and then again before our bedtime routine.

  4. I wish I could go back and do that time all over again. My kids are grown now but I wish that I had not allowed all the toys and things in my house. We now have three bins saved. One is star wars figures with lots of little pieces that were well loved the second one is legos and the third is matchbox cars. Those were what really mattered and what we remeber the kids enjoying when we think back on "when they were little"

  5. Thanks for posting this - this is one of my bigger challenges!

  6. I do the same thing with my kids (as my mom did with us). Mom also saved blocks and cars/trains, but I would add that two of the most popular toys that she saved have been dress-up clothes and play food.....fuels the imagination!!! :-)

  7. Hear, hear! I second that reasoning. When my daughter was little, we didn't have very much money left over for "stuff". Her dad brought home a huge cardboard box (from a refrigerator); that box provided her and the neighbor kids with hours and hours of creative play. It was a bus, a house, a store, and when it was almost worn out, a slide to pull around the yard! What a blast they had.

  8. Less is best! Yes, I am trying to learn that lesson personally and find greater joy in owning less. But, somehow.. even in a small place.. things multiply! :-)

  9. YEAH!!! Just yesterday I was thinking of how to 'sort' through the toys...GOD is so faithful! Thank you for posting this as it confirms an idea I was toying pun intended ;) My kids have always liked going through their toys and picking items to give we will make an afternoon of it and take the 'excess' to Good


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