In my experience as an organizer, as well as my experience as a mom, it has become abundantly clear to me that when it comes to toys, then less is more! I know I am not the first to say this, and I won't be the last.
I have always had more of a minimalistic view of toys due to a lot of different reasons: not a big enough space, not a big enough budget and just not wanting to feel like I live in a toy store. But, it also quickly became very clear to me that my kids actually benefit from fewer toys as well. I was most recently reminded of this during the summer while we were selling our house and moving. My kids only had a couple of toys each, and some books, but they contently played with what they had. They did not fight, and they did not nag or get bored as easily.
Here are 5 reasons why I strongly believe Less is More when it comes to toys:
1. Kids like seeing what they have
Kids like to see and enjoy their things, just as much as adults do. Seeing a basket with wooden blocks or a favorite train on a shelf will invite them to play with the items. Their favorite toys are visible and not lost in a mountain of other toys. Though this might seem particularly true for young kids, I would say this rings true for kids of all ages.
I do not mean that all their things have to be displayed on shelves at all times. But rather, that they need to be stored in a way that suits the child. My oldest daughter has always wanted to have her things neatly put away in drawers and cabinets, with labels. My middle one wants her things displayed on open shelves all over her room. Either way, they can easily find and enjoy their things.
2. Lots of toys lead to distraction or decision paralysis
The more toys, the harder for kids to decide which to play with. For example, if my kids are in a waiting room and there is only one toy there then that is what will entertain them the whole time. As soon as we go somewhere with lots of options, they can't make up their minds, and their focus will shift quickly from one thing to another.
This should not come as a surprise, as again, the same rings true for adults too. For example, if I walk into a store with a million things (think Target) I can easily get lost in an aisle full of bars of soap and have a hard time deciding which one to get. However, if I am out traveling and stop in at a convenience store and they only have one kind of soap, then that is the one I get.
3. Fewer toys promote sharing and taking turns
I am basing this solely on what I have seen at my house and what I have heard from friends and clients with kids. Contrary to popular belief, kids will tend to fight much much less when they have fewer toys among them.
If my kids are all sitting at the table playing with play-doh they will take turns using the two or three 'tools' we have. The same goes for coloring, if you have one set of colored pencils then they will have to wait their turn to use blue if someone else is using it.
4. Fewer toys encourage more imaginative play
I have also seen that kids who have fewer toys will tend to use their imagination more vividly and they will find new ways to play with what they have.
Often kids who are equipped with a vast array of toys will get easily bored and "don't have anything to play with". But, if they only have a handful of items, then those items will keep taking on new roles. A dress-up shawl can be a superhero cape one day and a swaddle blanket for a baby doll the next. A set of blocks can make a car track this week and an amazing princess castle next week. They will play with them differently, and the possibilities become endless!
I am going to draw a connection here between kids and their toys and adults and their clothes. Who has not walked into their closet before an event and thought "I don't have anything to wear!" despite the racks and racks of perfectly usable clothes? But what if you only have that one "good ole" dress in your closet, then you would find a way to wear that dress. You would probably add some accessories and maybe combine it with a jacket or something to give it a new life and a new look.
5. Fewer toys mean less clean up
I know you were expecting this one from me since creating order and systems is my thing! But, it is important to remember this too. Kids love to pull out toys, they love to play with toys and maybe for 6 months out of their entire lives they love to clean up toys too. The rest of the time....not so much. However, when they have much less stuff and they know exactly where it all goes then clean up is easy breezy and it does not feel like a chore.
We, as parents, do not want to spend our day either constantly picking up toys or trying to convince our kids to do so. Having fewer toys all together will free up both time and energy. And a bonus...when you want your house to look like adults live in it too, then it won't take a dump-truck to achieve it! Win-win!
Getting to that happy point with the number of toys in your home is not going to happen overnight. But, don't be afraid of testing the waters so to speak, and try to find the balance between enough and not much that works for your family.