credit: J. Arnold and CELF)
As I have been reading the UCLA study, one of the seven areas of clutter was toys. It was amazing to me that each new child adds 30 percent more clutter just in the preschool years.
I think that the biggest clutter challenge I had raising my kids was toy clutter. With a 3 bedroom home, for a lot of the time we had 5 kids at home, there was a lot of picking up. I honestly have no one else to blame but myself. I am the one who bought most of the toys. Now that our kids our grown up and grand kids are becoming a reality, I need to learn from the past. It is so easy to buy too many things, especially if you find great deals at garage sales on timeless toys, which happened this past weekend. I don't want to clutter my kid's homes with too much stuff, but it is so easy to buy it since you know the kids will enjoy them.
There are several things you can do to keep things under control:
1. Set a limit on toys: Whether it is two boxes or a certain amount of toys or only buying certain types of toys, figure out what a reasonable amount it for you kids. If you find that they don't play with something, don't keep it.
2. Holidays: Give relatives ideas of what to get for the birthdays and Christmas. If you have the toys you need, suggest a check towards an education fund for college. If relatives choose to buy what they want, just be grateful and dispose of it as you see fit. It is the thought that counts.
3. Play outside more: One of the comments made in the article is that 75% of adults and 50% of kids didn't play outdoors even though some had swimming pools, trampolines, etc.
4. Set a good example for you kids: Help them to realize that material things do not make us happy.
5. When one comes in, one goes out: If you do this on a regular basis, you should be able to keep things under control. If you have too many things, then get rid of 2 or 3 things for every new thing that comes in. When our kids were younger, we had them set aside toys to donate to others before Christmas. I don't know that they really understood back then, but it was an effort to "give before you get." One year, our church did a Secret Santa for a family in need. Since I was in charge, the gifts were dropped off at our house. They were put under our tree and a few days before Christmas they were dropped off. The emphasis was on others instead of themselves.
6. If you have like items, only keep one. Kids don't need 3-4 shape toys or number puzzles. One of each will do.
7. If your child has too many toys, or if you are short of funds, save toys for later. I know someone who plans to give their child something for Christmas that they got from someone else. By saving it for Christmas, she will save money and waiting a few months won't make a difference for her son.
8. Set a limit on the amount of money you spend for Christmas and birthdays. You can also just choose to get one gift for each holiday. Amy Dacyzyn did an experiment on her kids one Christmas to see how many toys kept their kids attention and excitement. After 3 toys, the happiness curve started going down. The wise men gave Jesus 3 gifts, so it maybe that is something to consider! You could even give a gift for fun, one to wear and one to read.
What are some ideas that you have done to keep your toy clutter under control?