3.27.2013

Toys, When Is Too Much?

Earlier today I read an article on eliminating toy clutter. Considering that I have felt children often possess more toys than necessary, or even healthy, I was captured by the topic from the first. When does the amount of toys in the home become too much?

Answers to the "How much is too much?" question regarding toys probably varies from family to family and house to house. After all, a 500 square foot apartment doesn't have as much room for playthings as a home with a large playroom or toy area. Each family also has their own personal level of objects they can tolerate surrounding them too. Some people feel cramped if there is anything laying around ANYWHERE while others are able to live in surroundings resembling the television show Hoarders with ease.

No matter what the level of surrounding objects, is it possible for the amount of toys in the home to become negative rather than positive to the well-being of the child(ren)? The answer may be personal opinion, but I think it can. Having been parenting for the past 21 years in living quarters of all shapes and sizes while possessing toys in both abundance and few, I can testify with all honesty that the fewer toys children possess, the more relaxed the atmosphere in the home is. The child(ren) also play with their toys more and for longer stretches at a time when there are fewer toys.

I don't pretend to know why child(ren) play more with less. I just know that they do. As a matter of fact, in our home, we could put the majority of the toys away each summer as our children spend most of their waking hours playing with sticks, rocks, sand, water, and mud outside. Not every family resides in a setting where this is possible. However, even if the home is in the inner city where outside play isn't always available, there is a possibility of too many toys being present in the home.
I didn't say it was a definite, only a possibility.

Challenges where a blogger invites his/her readers to join them by participating in whatever challenge it is they are going to tackle are frequent online. Frequent challenges to show up on blogs are pantry and freezer challenges where a person sees how long they can eat using the items in their pantry and freezer without going to the store. Screen free challenges encourage participators to see whether they can go from one week up to 30 days without watching television or using the computer.

Until now, I haven't ever issued a challenge or actively participated in one either. Until now. As I was thinking about this topic of too many toys in the average home with children - that's what the article I read said - the idea of a challenge came to me. Since it's getting to be time for spring cleaning and the weather is warming up for more outdoors play in the yard and park, let's have a toy challenge. Let's gather our toy-playing children and have them select their absolute, can't live without them toys. I/We want the number they choose to be smaller rather than larger. I'm thinking of having my two select five of each category. For example, five of their favorite trucks, five of their favorite animals, etc. Feel free to choose a number that fits your situation best. Then I/we will all gather up the remaining toys in boxes or bags and put them away. Since this is only a challenge and not a purge, I/we will only put away not give away - yet.

For 30 days, one month, I/we will observe our children and our home. Is there a difference in the cleanliness? What about attitude(s)? Is the environment of the home more peaceful? The only way this challenge will work is if I/we are brutally honest with my/ourselves. Maybe we could jot down our observations. Here are some of the questions I am looking for answers to: is cleanup easier, are attitudes sweeter, are the children more content, do they use their imaginations more, how well do they play together and share.

The results of the observations may surprise us all. According to the article I read this morning, children have less emotional response to the giving away of toys than their parents. The article also shared that a number of toys are often purchased and/or given as a result of the desires of a parent, not child(ren). Train table was the example used in the article. Hmmm. I wonder if we will find that to be true in any of our homes. At the conclusion of the toy challenge all participators will be able to share their findings and hopefully learn from each other's experience.

We'll talk more about this later. Right now, there's a Victorious Man of God with a wet diaper. He's a hungry man too. Enjoying the few cloth diapers he is big enough to wear. The rest will have to wait until he grows a bit more. Maybe I'll have a make your own cloth diaper post for you later:)

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