I got rid of my kids toys

I Got Rid of All Their Toys | This is What Happened…

My eight-year-old paced the living room with slouched shoulders and the most pitiful expression he could muster up.  “What’s wrong, honey?” I asked glancing up from my tablet.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m just so bored.” He sounded as defeated as he looked.

Frustration rippled through me as I thought about all the wonderful toys he was blessed with. Most of which were gifted to him by adoring grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. Remote control cars, tablets, action figures, and just about every building toy you could imagine. Topped off with his wonderful imagination, I begged the question: How could he ever get bored? 

I wrote a post earlier this year, titled, Ten Ways to Resurrect Old Toys. In this post, I shared some tips on how I managed to trick my kids into falling back in love with their toys. Although these strategies run their course after a while, these tips still work for me. But I realized I’d forgotten one. If I could rewrite that post, I’d add a number elevengo on a toy fast! 

You see, whenever my kids declared their boredom, I’d always threaten to take all of their toys away. Of course, I never meant it. I just wanted to scare them into gratitude. Sounds stupid, right? That’s because it is. But when my son approached me and said he was bored, for what I exaggerate to be the millionth time, I decided this was the moment I’d put my words to action.  

Once my kids fell asleep that night, I collected all of their toys (the few that were in rotation) and put them into the garage with the rest of their toys. The only exceptions were the riding toys and trampoline in the backyard, and the toys we used in our homeschool classroom. I called this method, the Three Day Toy Fast.  This is my account of what happened after I got rid of all my kids’ toys. (Cue the Law & Order theme song.)

1.    They survived. Yes, my boys lived to tell the tale. In fact, they stopped asking me for their toys after day one. The phrase—out of sight, out of mind—rang true in this case. They simply stopped thinking about their toys and found other things to do. They colored more, drew more pictures, played outside longer, made up games, and yes, they watched their favorite cartoons on the days they drove me crazy. They even found things around the house to play with. Stuff like empty boxes, containers, and things they had no business playing with (like the hand soap in the bathroom). Turns out, toys had distracted them from using more of their imagination.  

Kids Playing at the Park

 

2.   They got along better. Of course, sibling rivalry is always going to be a challenge, but my boys did get along better once we removed toys out of the equation. Since they no longer had toys to fight over, they had to work together to stay entertained. Phrases like “That’s mine!” “Gimme that back!” and “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” had greatly reduced.  I was really pleased to see how much better they interacted with one another—so many giggles and inside jokes were exchanged between them. 

Kids Getting Along

 

3.   There was more peace.  Ah yes, that thing called peace. We all have our own definition of it. For me, peace is partly defined as having less clutter in my life. Not seeing toys all over the family room definitely took me to that sweet place. I had less anxiety, was more patient, and more relaxed. I also got to give my vocal cords a rest, as I seldom had to yell the word “share!”

Kids Reading Books

 

4.    They had more gratitude. Whatever random toys my boys could find underneath the couches, beds, or other furniture, was like finding treasure. They sat and played contently with a few pieces of LEGOs, a small action-figure sword, and irrelevant puzzle pieces. They got super creative! Not to mention, they showed major love to all of their art supplies. Suddenly, it occurred to my boys that my husband and I could take away their toys at any moment; that they weren’t entitled to them. As a result, they showed more signs of humility (especially my eldest) and their disposition improved.

Creative Kids

 

5.    I stepped up my game. Chucking most of my kids’ toys sounded like a great idea until I discovered I had to step my game up. That is, I had to help them come up with creative ideas and be more involved during activities. I realized I couldn’t just tell my kids to use their imagination, but I had to show them how fun it could be. Thanks to my own imagination, and Pinterest, finding things for us to do was a cinch.

Mommy and sons


So the question you’re probably wondering is, after having such a wonderful toy-free experience, will you reintroduce your children to their toys? The answer is, yes, I already have. But after a few days of arguing and fighting, I returned the toys to the garage. Now we’re back to more peaceful, although not perfect, days. 

I now see a strategy at work. My boys are starting to notice that if they bicker and fight, mommy will remove the toys that are causing the fuss. This, in turn, will encourage them to learn to get along better. It’s already been working! Even as I write this post, the boys are peacefully working on a craft activity I found on Pinterest. And although they still disagree, I’ve noticed when they are crafting their tone toward one another isn’t as harsh. 

I want to end this post by saying that toys are obviously a wonderful addition to childhood. However, my boys are at the age where they are learning how to peacefully work out their issues with each other. Eliminating toys has helped during this time. So, no, this is not an anti-toy post. But one that I hope encourages parents to try eliminating distractions when their children need to learn valuable life lessons such as gratitude, the power of using their imagination, and the wonderfulness of harmony.

Anything to add? Let us know down below!

Stay tuned for more posts on “The Better Mom Tuesdays” series! Every Tuesday this month I’ll be sharing mom tips! 

Toddlers and Toys

Toddler Boredom | 10 Ways to Resurrect Old Toys

 

Okay, so let me get this out of the way. The average attention span for a toddler is only 3-5 minutes. By age five, this span increases to a whopping 10-15 minutes. Not very long, huh? I know! It’s no wonder kids seem to run out of things to do so quickly. Nevertheless, I incorporated the following methods to maximize the attention span of my dear children. My boys are now ages 4 and 7, but these straightforward tips have worked for me since their toddlerhood. This week for Toddler Talk Tuesday, I will share simple things you can do to help curb toddler boredom. I hope you find these tips helpful. Enjoy!


 

Toddler Boredom | 10 Ways to Resurrect Old Toys

 

1. Don’t hold onto them. 

Those toys that your children have outgrown or don’t care for? Donate them! Sometimes when the toybox or playroom is overflowing with toys it can be overwhelming for kids, especially the younger ones. Purging toys not only lessens the load and makes playtime more attractive, but helps your children discover those long-lost items they’ve forgotten how much they love. Be sure to involve your little ones in the donation process. Let them know they are making room for new toys in the future. And don’t forget to let your toddler choose a brand-new toy to purchase and include in your donation!

 

2. Keep them in rotation. 

Limiting your child’s toy options may help hold their attention for longer periods—especially when those options are in rotation. Leave your child 1-2 toys to play with and put the rest away for a while. You may find that your child can play for longer periods with just one or two toys. This is because there aren’t a dozen other toys competing for their attention, so your child isn’t rushing to move on to the next best thing. Decide how long you want your rotation to last (every week? every month?) and reintroduce your child to some of the toys you’ve been hiding away. Be sure to keep the cycle going. 

 

3. Organize them. 

Yes! Keep the blocks with the blocks, the dolls with the dolls, the play kitchenware with the play kitchenware—you get the point! Avoid dumping all your children’s toys into one giant toy bin. Instead, get some inexpensive bins (the Dollar Tree is a good place to start) and teach your children how to keep their toys organized and accessible. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this can make during playtime. I recall several meltdowns because certain parts of a playset had gotten lost in the crowded toybox. Organizing toys keeps all those “parts” together, which limits frustration and tantrums. 

 

4. Play with them. 

Sometimes you just have to get on the floor and play with your kids. Doing so is not only great for bonding and building self-esteem, but also gives your child new ideas about how to play with their toys. Show them how to build an amazing tower with their Lego set, how to create an awesome storyline for their toy soldiers or dolls, or how to play a new tune with their pretend (or real) instruments. You may find that your child takes ideas and builds upon them, sparking a new excitement for their toys. 

 

5. Change surroundings. 

Take that play kitchen or workbench station out of the playroom and put it into the family room for a few days. On a sunny day, take a large blanket and place it in the backyard with a few of your child’s beloved toys for a fun toy picnic. During the winter, bring your child’s water table into the kitchen or garage and let them enjoy playing with a “summer toy” during a different season. Sometimes, a different setting can make old toys just as exciting as brand new ones.

 

6. Wrap them!

Yes, you heard it right. Get some fun wrapping paper and wrap some of your child’s toys. Toddlers won’t care that the toy isn’t new. They just love the idea of unwrapping a present! Even better? Give them some extra wrapping paper to wrap the toys themselves. My boys loved wrapping their toys and giving them to me as “gifts.”

 

7. Become a “toy fairy.”

I still love doing this! When my oldest was a toddler, I would sneak into his bedroom while he was asleep and set up his toys in an elaborate display. Trust me, this will buy you some time in the morning! Or even post-naptime! My son would wake up and be so excited to play. These days, since I have my children’s toys on rotation, I simply switch out their toys in the middle of the night for other toys they haven’t played with in a while. It’s like Christmas morning! They never know what toys they’ll wake up to.

 

8. Wash them.

Get a large container, fill it with water and bath bubbles, give your child a toddler-friendly scrubber, and let them “wash” their toys. Make sure the toys are not plush, battery operated, or electronic. They can wash their toys while sitting on the kitchen floor as you cook dinner (place a towel underneath them). Or, like my boys do, they can wash their toys outside in the backyard while you sit on the porch with your favorite book scrolling through Instagram.

 

9. Make them educational.

Place alphabet letters or numbers onto blocks, Legos, mini figures, or dolls and have your toddler arrange them in order. You can simply print out a number or alphabet template, cut them into squares, and tape them onto the toys. If you don’t mind things being permanent, you can even write on blocks and Legos with a permanent marker. You can also have your child group the toys by color; for example, place the red blocks with other toys that are red. Or, try arranging the toys by size. There are so many possibilities and your toddler will love having a little task to do!

 

10. Take them apart.

This is a recent tip I read about in one of my Facebook STEM groups. Whether you have a curious child or a future engineer, old toys that can’t be donated can be safely taken apart for further exploring. Let your child explore what’s inside a stuffed animal, a remote-control car, or that musical toy that plays the same annoying songs over and over. I do not recommend this tip for younger toddlers who still put things in their mouths, as there may be small parts involved. Always remember to provide close supervision.


 

As a disclaimer, I am not an expert. These are just tips that have worked for me and my family. I hope you found at least one of these tips useful. Join me next week for my final post on the Toddler Talk Tuesday series!

Let us know in the comments what you do to help curb toddler boredom!