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  • Leah Cee

Fewer Toys = Better Play

Seems counter-intuitive doesn't it?


When you're a first time parent, you worry that your child will soon become bored and unimaginative if they don't have an abundance of toys to interact with. Thoughts of your toddler clambering up kitchen cupboards while wielding dangerous cutlery, or ransacking the pantry, emptying the Tupperware of baking goods - all because you didn't supply them with enough engaging, brightly coloured wiz-bang playthings to get them through a few hours between mealtimes, keeping you in a dizzying loop of K-Mart trips to maintain the cache.



At the sniff of every toy sale, you smash Target and Big W with your bulk order (getting in early for Christmas) and regularly scan Amazon to make sure you've covered all bases. Soon every orifice of your home is stuffed full of whirring, beeping, singing, flashing, lightup gizmos and gadgets in brightly coloured, space hogging paraphernalia that you will learn to despise.



You can relax dear parent, for research has proven that having fewer toys is far more beneficial for little minds. And it makes sense. If your child bounces between their dinosaurs, cars, blocks, Duplo, balls, puzzles and dolls, they don't have the time to truly engage in immersive play. Instead they flit from activity to activity resulting in nothing more than a colossal mess for you to clean up.


So, what's the solution to too many toys?

  1. Limit the amount of toys coming into the house for starters. If well meaning friends and relatives offer toys that their children have grown out of or were found in op-shops, politely decline the offer. There's absolutely no shame in saying "no". Learn to say "no" in the first place and you won't have to deal with the repercussions later.

  2. When special occasions arise that may result in a gift of a physical toy, suggest to your gift-giver that you are already blessed with abundance and would prefer that they spend valuable time with the youngster creating memories instead. Vouchers to zoos, aquariums, museums, movies, age appropriate theatre shows and concerts (Wiggles, Disney on Ice, circus, kids fringe festivals, amateur theatre), play centres, trampoline parks, Lego exhibitions, mini golf, ice skating rinks, art & craft classes, science fairs and swimming lessons are great activities for kids of all ages.

  3. Cull. Cull the existing toys. There are arguments for and against doing this with your children. Yes, you want to include them in the process so that they don't hold a lifelong grudge against you turfing out their favourite Hot Wheels car, but let's be realistic about this too. You are the adult paying for the storage space in your home, so you choose what stays and what goes - especially if they're under 5 years old. It's pretty easy to work out what they play with and which toys are their absolute favourites. You just need to watch them play. If you're unsure, box the items up into a plastic tub and pop them into a "holding bay" (your garage, shed, roof space or top a wardrobe) for a set period of time. If after say three months, your child hasn't asked for the toy, move it on to a new home. Once the kids are at school age, include them in the decision making process and allow them to choose their most valued toys with the unwanted items going to someone who is less fortunate.

  4. Rotate toys. Keep a small amount of toys out in the play area / living room and let your child fully immerse themselves in creative, imaginative and fulfilling play. They might start making up voices for characters and building more innovative structures with Lego and blocks. Once they've exhausted their play with those toys, pack them into a plastic tub and store or move them onto new families, then introduce a few more toys.

  5. Use Toy Libraries. To not only diversify your toy usage, but also to practice sustainability, utilise your local Toy Library. Toy libraries are inexpensive, local and usually volunteer run and provide a great selection of age appropriate toys for borrowing. If your child doesn't engage with the toy, you just return it and choose something else. You only have to store it whilst borrowing it, and you don't have the "endowment effect" to worry about when deciding to get rid of it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endowment_effect


Find a local Toy Library near you:



There are many articles relating to the benefits of fewer toys, some of which I've linked below.

The science is clear.

Less toys = more focus, more productive play, more imagination, increased cognitive skills and more creativity.

But the biggest benefits to parents - more space, more time, less mess, less stress.








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