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I Took My Kids’ Toys Away – And Here’s What Happened

A few weeks ago I was sick of constantly picking up toys (or asking the kids to pick up toys) so I made the decision to put their toys away and see what would happen.

I may be considered a bit of an extremist – my methods usually fall under the all or nothing categories.

So, in the morning I told the kids we would be putting their toys in the storage room for a little while, this wasn’t said out of anger or anything, I just explained that I was feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with all the toy clutter and asked if they were sick of cleaning up all the time (they were).

I Took My Kids' Toys Away - and here's what happened. Simple living and minimalism with kids.

To soften the blow I said they could each pick five small toys to keep out, of course Raeca somehow talked me into upping it to six toys each (she’s got some decent arguing skills that girl). She mostly chose stuffed animals for her six items and Ephraim had a couple stuffed animals and toy planes for his.

Then we started packing the rest of the toys away. Ephraim helped me, Raeca was a little too sad to; she was adamant she was going to be bored without any toys.

Once they were put away the kids played nicely for the rest of the day.

Minimalism – 1
Toy Clutter – 0

I Took My Kids' Toys Away - and here's what happened

This was on a Friday and I told Raeca they could get some toys back on Monday. Ephraim consistently asked for his Playmobil toys every day between so on Monday I gave them the bin of Playmobil toys.

A couple of days later they were asking for their Lego back . . . first, let me just say, I have a love hate relationship with Lego. I get that there are some awesome benefits but I kind of want to Kragle everything so I don’t end up picking up little random pieces all over the house.

The benefits won out, they got the Lego back.

Two and a half weeks later that’s where we are currently at.

I Took My Kids' Toys Away - and here's what happened

There are multiple large bins in our storage room filled with toys they haven’t asked to play with.

They will sometimes ask for some random toy and I say “maybe later” or “maybe tomorrow” and they eventually forget and move on. In my mind, if they can’t remember they wanted to play with it obviously they didn’t care to play with it too badly.

Without all the toys to spread throughout the house cleaning has been a lot easier and quicker and they kids have been playing just as well as they when they had all the toys out.

I suspect you may have some questions, I’ll try my best to answer some of them . . .

So what have they been playing (with)?

My kids, like all kids, are so much more creative when they have less pre-made toys at their disposal. They use opened cereal boxes as skateboards, they build forts, Rae has started hand sewing felt play food, they play house, they read books, they build forts, they’ve made a castle and accessories out of cardboard and popsicle sticks with their dad, and they are still playing with their Playmobil and Lego.

Contrary to what Raeca originally thought, they have not been bored.

I don’t think it is my job as a parent to always play with my kids*, I like them to be able to play alone and together for the most part but I also know that asking them to give up a bunch of their stuff does create a learning curve and I intentionally took some time to do some things with them when the toys were first put away.

*This is not to say that I don’t do stuff with my kids because we do a lot of reading, crafting, playing games and other stuff together, just that I don’t play imaginative games with them much.

I Took My Kids' Toys Away - and here's what happened

They’ve spent hours playing with the cardboard castle (with popsicle stick drawbridge) and popsicle stick trebuchet. Some how this has been more entertaining than their toy castle.

Will they get their toys back?

Hmm, yes and no. If they specifically want a toy for more than a brief two seconds I will get it out for them, but likely they will need to trade it for something they currently have out. I don’t want my house to get overrun with toys. If there are things that haven’t been asked for in a long time they may eventually end up making their way to the donation bin.

Are you going to do this yourself?

I don’t think it is fair to ask my kids to give up their toys and not go through the same thing myself so I have been purging a lot and have been greatly reducing my amount of craft and hobby supplies as well as books. I’ve been getting rid of books that I have either read and won’t read again or ones that I have never read and have finally admitted to myself that I never will (that means Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey will stop sitting on myself making me look smarter than I really am).

I kinda like this idea but is there a less extreme way to do this?

Sure is! Instead of doing something like this all in one day you could totally do this over the course of a few weeks. It would just take a few minutes each day to put away some toys your kids don’t play with very often. See if they even notice! Just keep going until it feels like a good amount of toys for your family.

Minimalism with kids is something that a person needs to keep on top of, you can’t just put a bunch of toys away once and expect to be done with it. There will be constant culling as new items get added into your home.

Ultimately, having less toys (and stuff) in our home is really good for our family right now and I am hoping to continue with the amount of toys that we have out right now and to keep reducing my own items around the house.

Tired of cleaning up toys all the time and being overwhelmed by the clutter? Check out my free mini-course:Clutter Free Home.

Clutter Free Home - a free online workshop on how to eliminate clutter in your home that kids accumulate

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  1. I love this idea and think it’s so fun to watch my daughter playing, even just at 18 months old. She doesn’t NEED more and more toys. I bet you love that there is less to clean up too 🙂

    1. I love that there is less to clean up, we all do! It’s funny how kids can be entertained with so little right from an early age and yet there is this idea that they need more and more. Keeping the toys limited right from the get-go is the way to go!

  2. Wowie, girl! Way to go! I keep all Caleb’s toys fitting in one shelving unit (except his big things like basketball hoop and rocking horse). Even so, there are things he rarely, if ever, plays with. Maybe I need to start getting rid of things!

  3. I strongly recommend that you please all be so kind and let the children keep things that they really have been dealing with all the time and love them so much so far!!!If you see that children love these things very much and want to give up beloved things, then under no circumstances should you remove these things, and then not if they are already grownups and want to keep those things in mind in memory of childhood!!!If there really is no room, then just buy the storage boxes and the problem is solved!!! I also have many things at home, but I’ve been able to keep everything in good condition thanks to these storage boxes and I do not see any problem!!!If you can see that the kids are really good at keeping things up very well after dealing and the rooms are absolutely perfectly clean every day, please let them keep things until they really want it !!! If they can not clean it, then teach them and if they are cleaning everything, then keeping things is not a problem if there are big storage boxes.If children want to keep their things up,then let them do it !!! Children still want to make their own collections, videos and in the future they would definitely want to give their old things to their children !!!If there is no room at all, then take some things, but not all things, if they like their things very much !!! I consider collectibles of children’s things to be very valuable, because for some time they become rare and there is no way to get them again! I have a very big Disney collection in my home and there are other things too. I do not give anything away because these are my things!!! If I have decided to keep my childhood things, then I’ll keep them forever!!!I’m very experienced in childhood things and I know that things in childhood needs to be kept so that you can remember the old good times and in the future give them to your children!!!
    Reminder and teachings for parents and children!!!

    1. Hi Astra – thanks for your comment. We have not gotten rid of all the things. We have a chest where favorite keepsakes are stored and if you read the post you’ll have read that most of the items just went in storage. When we do get rid of toys the kids make decisions on what they are willing to part with and what they keep.

  4. I love this idea but don’t find it solves my problem. My kids will happily make their own toys out of cardboard boxes, but then they leave out the cardboard box scraps, scissors, tape, markers, etc. I can take their toys away and they will get into other stuff and leave it out, too. So if the problem is too much money spent on toys, then you can solve it by having fewer toys but I haven’t found anything to solve the problem of mess.

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