Are you SUPER PUMPED to have loads more toys in your house? I thought not. So many parents I know use the term “swimming in toys” with me. There is a way to give your child a magical present filled holiday without adding clutter to your home. Consider adding some of these awesome clutter free gifts for kids under your Christmas tree this year.
Is there such a thing as too many toys?
Yes. Your child can have too many toys.
There is extensive research on this topic. Study after study, like the one from The University of Toledo, show that too many toys results in distracted children who play for less time. Young children are still learning how to form and carry out a plan. If they have too many choices they can’t even form a plan. They’re too overwhelmed. Want your child to play by themselves, with more imagination, for a longer period of time? Limit their toys.
Want your child to play by themselves, with more imagination, for a longer period of time? Limit their toys. Click To Tweet
What if my child has too many toys already?
When you are “swimming in toys” there are several ways to get the situation under control:
- get rid of broken toys
- give away toys that aren’t being played with
- donate toys that don’t fit in with your vision for your child’s childhood*
- Institute a toy rotation system (see the next section)
* As the parent, you get to choose what types of toys you think are best for your child. Nothing electronic? Nothing that smacks of only traditional gender roles? Take some time to think this over. Then be confident in your beliefs and stick to it. Personally I never allowed my son to have a toy gun. Did he make one out of a stick occasionally? Yes, but it was a prop rather than a realistic representation and that’s where I drew the line. I had friends who thought this was ridiculous but as the parent, we get to make the decisions. 😉
How do I set up a toy rotation system?
Start by placing what you consider a reasonable amount of toys in one section of the playroom or wherever your child plays.
Gather up the rest of the toys and divide them out into reasonable amounts as well. Do you have three piles? Seven? Buy as many bins as you have piles and place each set into a bin.
I suggest having several types of toys in each bin. Perhaps each bin has a few dinosaurs, trucks and puzzles, for example.
Place the bins in the attic or basement-anywhere your child can’t get into them.
Next, set reminders on your phone for every other month or so. This will let you know when it’s time to pull out a new bin, and pack up the toys that were currently out in the playroom/bedroom.
Personally, I had 4 bins which I rotated quarterly. I always let my kids know which day this would be done (when they were at school.) There was absolutely NO resistance to this. Toy rotation day was like Christmas! They were so excited for the new set of toys and played nicely by themselves for hours on end.
My favorite clutter free toys
Your children will expect toys at the holiday. And of course you want to give your child presents! It’s one of the ways we show love. Consider, however, adding a few of the following gifts into the mix to cut down on the sheer amount of stuff under the Christmas tree (which you will have to find a home for.)
Your local community center is bound to have an array of classes for children: art, cooking, tae-kwon-do, acting etc. This gives your child a way to learn a new skill, make new friends, and create lasting memories.
Tickets to a play, a musical, or even the movies is a great idea!
I loved to give kids magazine subscriptions! Even kids who don’t love to read enjoy the shorter text of the magazine format. There’s so much to look at and so much to learn from magazines! Below are some of the good ones:
- Ranger Rick
- National Geographic Kids
- Spider Magazine *
- Click Magazine*
- Muse Magazine*
- Lego Life Magazine
*Spider, Click, and Muse are just some of the offerings from Cricket Media. Their magazines are high quality in production value, writing, and educational material. I LOVED these for my kids! They have magazines for the under 3 crowd starting with read aloud stories in BabyBug up to magazines for kids ages 9-14. Topics include science, history, art and more.
KiwiCo is a subscription service that offers science, engineering, geography and art monthly boxes like Atlas Crate. High quality materials for hands on learning. They’ve got kits that work for all ages and any interest!
Little Passports is a monthly subscription box that arrives in a little suitcase-ready to teach your child all about the world we live in. They also carry a science experiment box.
BrickLoot is a monthly box filled with Lego items, some of which aren’t found anywhere else. Developed by a 9 year old boy (now 13), I’m sure it’ll be right what your Lego Lover wants! (Technically this isn’t clutter-free but Legos are small. And don’t forget to pass on when you’re at max Lego capacity!)
Membership to the zoo or a museum
How do we give the gift of time? Of family memories? By giving a gift membership to a local museum or the zoo, you’re much more likely to visit these memory-making places. And with a membership, it doesn’t have to be an all day affair. Pop in for a few hours and move on. You’ve got all year.
Seeing your children’s faces light up on Christmas day as they open their presents is one of the biggest joys of parenting. Not being able to walk through their room because toys are strewn everywhere is not. Seeing your child play with a new toy for a nano second before discarding it is also not fun. Solve this issue with fewer toys and awesome clutter free gifts for kids too.
Happy holidays to you all!
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