The Battle Against Toy Clutter: PART ONE



How many toys does a child need?!

As first-time parents with a toddler, this is a new challenge for Mitch and me.  We obviously don’t have all the answers and would never claim to, but I’ve been doing some reading on the subject, trying to figure out how to reconcile a lifestyle of minimalism with raising children without feeling like we’re depriving them of joy. says U.S. parents spend an average of $371 (per child) each year.  The article I read explained the issue very well: “Every year, children and their parents are bombarded with advertisements announcing the latest and greatest the toy industry has to offer. Toy manufacturers try to convince parents that their children absolutely need these new toys, just as they are convincing children that they need more for themselves in order to not fall behind their friends.” (Full article HERE.)

I have a couple blogs lined up on this topic.  For this first one, we’re going to keep it practical, organized and easy to follow.  A beautiful little list.  I love lists.

Here are some practical ways to fight the battle against toy clutter:

  • Invest in more multi-use toys. Things like blocks and legos can be used in many ways!  Encourage your child to use his/her imagination.
  • Have a list of ideas on hand to help your child with these multi-use toys, and then guide them through the fun!  Sometimes they need a little help to get their creative juices flowing. 🙂
  • Consider doing a toy rotation every week or month.  Storing some toys away and rotating them into your child’s play area will help keep things fresh for them and prevent you from feeling like you have to buy something new. It also means less to clean up on a regular basis! My parents actually did this for me and they said it worked really well.
  • Set up some concrete toy rules for your household (and enforce them.)  Toy rules can help set your child’s expectations and keep you from folding like a chair whenever their googly turned puppy dog eyes get the best of your wallet. Rules can be things like:
    • 1) No new toys unless it’s a special occasion (birthday, holiday, special achievement, etc.)
    • 2) No toys from (such and such store.)
    • 3) No toys with batteries.
    • 4) If you get a new toy, you have to donate one toy.
  • You might have to ask certain friends or relatives to cut back on the random toy giving.  They’ll probably think you’re a cruel human being but you’re the one who has to deal with the mess at home, it’s okay to be firm in your requests.  Let them know if they really want to give your child something, experiences are preferred over toys.
  • Remember: The less you have to clean, the more time you have to  actually play with your kids.  Less clutter, more quality time.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

One thought on “The Battle Against Toy Clutter: PART ONE

  1. Denise Castanon says:

    Hi, I’m the managing editor at Metro Parent magazine in Portland. Each month I write about a local parent blogger and I was hoping to write about 20 Mugs for an upcoming issue. Please send me an email and I can tell you more about it. Thanks!
    Denise Castañon, Metro Parent


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