The Toy Monster: 10 Ways to Manage Too Many Toys
The holidays are over, but what do you do with all the new toys in your house? How do you handle moving on from old toys that have brought your child so much joy? Donate them? Have a “toy swap” with friends? Hide them away for later? Sneak them out to the trash under the cover of darkness?
Experts say that too many toys can have a negative effect on a child. Toddlers can get overwhelmed by a lot of toys and can’t focus on playing with one thing if there are too many choices. Children six and older may find a toy surplus makes them feel as if everything is replaceable and toys have no real value. Children may not appreciate their possessions or feel responsible for them if they have too many things.
Parents can also feel frustrated and overwhelmed by too much clutter. Excess toys make it hard to keep things clean and organized so families have enough time and space to play together. Any parent who has stepped on a LEGO with bare feet knows the importance of picking up!
Here are some ways to help control the toys that may have started taking over your home:
- Rotate. Make an old toy feel new again! Box up and put older toys away for a while so that they’re exciting again when you get them out later on.
- Lend and Swap. Send toys to a grandparent’s or friend’s house so your child can still visit and play with them. Organize a simple toy swap with other parents by trading one surprise box of toys between households.
- Donate. Many local organizations can find a purpose for your child’s old toys and children may be more willing to part with things if they know other children will enjoy them. Have your child help create a “maybe” box. Your child can place any toys in the box that they think they might like to donate and see if they miss them before actually giving them away.
- Repurpose. Create a LEGO utensil holder, make a truck into a planter, create a toy car keychain, decorate a picture frame with small plastic toys and puzzle pieces. Get creative!
- Sell. Allow your child to have their own table at your next garage sale. Have your child help you write a description and take pictures to list toys for sale online. The money they make from selling their old toys can be used to purchase new toys or experiences.
- Give things that get used up. Give consumable gifts that help children be creative and use their imaginations, like playdough, blank notebooks, stickers, playdough, and glue. Consumables encourage creativity and don’t stay in your house forever.
- Give experiences. Give passes, gift certificates, even homemade coupons for things like an ice cream date with dad or a backyard campout with mom.
- Prioritize. Keep gift-giving focused on what your child really wants. For children over three, help them make a list of what they’d like most by putting photos of the toys on index cards and having them put the cards in order from most desired to least.
- Limit. Try to limit most gift-giving to the holidays and birthdays only. For older children, let them help purchase items they want on a whim with their own money. If you know your child will be receiving a lot of holiday gifts, cut back on your purchases for them in the months leading up to it. Surprising your child with a random gift is still fine, but limiting it to special occasions will help reduce the toy overload. Babies and toddlers may love the boxes and wrapping paper more than the toys themselves!
- Test drive. If your child wants a new video game, see if it’s possible to check it out from the local library to see if it’s something they would really like to spend money on. Topeka Public Schools’ Parents as Teachers program also has a toy library where you can check out toys for your child to cultivate their interests if you are enrolled in their program.
Good luck tackling the toy monster!