We’ve all been there… one day you have a beautiful little baby with a teddy bear and blanky and the next you feel like you’re living a nightmare in Toy Story 3! We think toys are the savior to buy us some time to do our own thing when in fact they can be the evil that lurks in the corners of our house… especially lego’s on the carpet… oh the lego’s!!!
The dictionary meaning for play is to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious practical purpose… not really the same as the meaning that
is going around the net these days that goes “Play. (pla) verb to make a big mess with toys.” I’m sure that the original context of this wrongful depiction of the word was intended sarcastically to actually stipulate the mess that they have to deal with daily… my point of this post exactly!
Toys are just one of the many tools kids use to play, yet it’s the one adults spend the most time and money on as its the best thing they think they can practically do for their kids in order to keep them busy… well it might be the easiest way but as we’ve learned by now, it’s not the most imaginative, nor is it good for kids to just own everything they set their eyes on.
So how do we deal with toy overload when we have already allowed our house to get to a point where it looks as scary as Toy Story 3? Here’s some steps to get you on the way…
1. Get to the root of the problem first
If you cut a weed at the stem it will grow again but get to the roots, the reason for its growth, and you can pull it out so that it won’t grow again. Ask yourself why are there so many toys in your house? Are you buying toys that you actually want your children to have because you never got to have them as a child and now they are lying around the house because your children don’t really want them? Are you giving in to tantrums in the store to buy toys on the whim or allowing them fads that dies out in a month or two? Getting to the root will help you understand the problem, saving you lots of time and money to get it sorted out.
2. Teach them the value of money and their toys
Here’s an article i wrote to Cultivate good behavior at the mall while teaching money mindfulness. It’s good for them to know the value of money and just so much the value of their toys. That way they look after their toys so much better and it might reduce the amount of unwanted toys lying around.
3. Get into the habit of giving.
Do they really need all those toys? Encourage children to give by giving them three boxes in which to orgainse the chaos… one for giving away toys that they are no longer playing with or wish to bless other kids with, one for keeping and one for throwing away or recycling broken toys. We have done this numerous times and every time I am surprised to see how they are willing to give and how much it does for them to be able to give.
4. Help them to make wise choices
Some toys are just better value than others. Cheap toys break easily but on the other hand some expensive toys are not really strong either or are just fads, waiting to sit on the shelf. Some toys are educational like Lego of Transformers and can be a fun toy without giving the feeling of school. Help them to understand the difference between the two.
5. Find other ways to play
All parents are not always keen to play with their children, especially without toys, but try to get into the habit of guiding their play to other activities like running outside, playing hide and seek, doing imaginary play with dress up or riding their bikes. There are endless possibilities that don’t involve toys… the sky is the limit!
6. Watch less television
I know, I know… don’t even go there. I don’t want to either but we have to realise that the shows that kids watch are intentionally written these days to accommodate merchandise to sell… and lots of it! A good show will make good money out of us and don’t expect your children to keep loving a toy they wanted because they saw it on the tv, when the next new show is designed to make them want something else.
7. Rent toys rather than buying
When you’ve come to a point that you have actually managed to get to the root of the problem, you have given away all the unwanted toys and you are ready to start this new way of living, rent toys rather than buying any new ones. I was so fortunate to test Smart Toy Club for a few months and I was pleasantly surprised at how much we loved it. We got different toys each month and to our joy, mostly educational as that is what our answer to one of the questions was- what kinds of toys we like.
These are the different batches of toys we found in the different bags that we got. It was so much fun waiting for the delivery man to deliver our toys each month to see what the new toys would be! On their birthday we got a birthday cake toy that sang happy birthday and asks you to blow out the candles… that was so amazing as it happened to be on their birthday and there was 5 candles to blow out and they just happened to be 5. They also loved the Leapfrog game with the handles that has educational games including learning numbers.
One of the other toys we really enjoyed was this chameleon in the picture below. You can scan colours and learn numbers, which is actually what we were busy with in our homeschooling at that stage, so it really gave them another dimension to reading numbers that helped them to remember.
The penguin game in the picture below was one of those that we would love to get ourselves one day. If we didn’t make use of toy rental we wouldn’t have come across this game and it is so educational and totally addictive… a post for a whole other day!
Renting toys just makes so much more sense than buying. It’s better for the environment as we send less plastic into the world and we don’t end up with unwanted toy clutter. Just as they get tired of the old toys, new ones come in the next month and that way you can also see what toys your children really wants and which ones they play with for a while and then abandon.
If you would like to know how to sign up with them, go to Smart Toy Club’s website for more info.
Do you have more ideas to deal with toy clutter? Post in comments below!
Although sevices were offered to KraftiMama for free, this post was inspired by Smart Toy Club out of my own accord and not sponsored by Smart Toy Club for a review. I only share things I love and Smart Toy Club happens to be one of them!