Discover the benefits of toy minimalism and how to get started.
Declutter,  Family,  Home,  Minimalism,  Self

How to Pursue Toy Minimalism (And the Magic that Happens When You Do)

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I recently started pursuing toy minimalism in our home, and have fallen head over heels for it.

Seriously, it’s every stay-at-home mama’s dream.

First, a little backstory:

When my oldest daughter was born, I wanted absolutely everything for her.

While we’ve never been the parents to let her choose multiple toys each time we went to the store, we were definitely both suckers for getting her at least one thing. Our littles are also blessed with VERY generous grandparents who love to shower them with gifts.

Fast forward a couple years.

I found myself drowning in toys and in tears because I couldn’t seem to get control over the mess (I was also pregnant, and bending over 5 million times a day to pick up the living room just wasn’t going to happen).

I came up with a basket system of organizing the mess, which led to us clearing out a closet for the toys, but I was still overwhelmed.

And then a magical thing happened…

I came across the idea of toy minimalism.

My first thought was that there was absolutely no way I could get rid of toys without my daughter noticing.

My second thought was Who cares? I need to take my house back. I can’t live like this anymore. And I don’t want this kind of life and environment for my daughter.

How toy minimalism can improve your life.

Before I Touched the Toys…

I did some soul searching before I went on the toy clearing rampage.

It was important to me to get rid of her toys for the right reason, and I needed some basic guidelines for myself to help me decide what I would allow to stay and what we would pass along to another family.

I decided ahead of time what kinds of toys I wanted to keep and what kinds would be donated based on my vision of what I want for my kid’s childhood.

This all had to be about her first and foremost. Fewer toys for me to pick up was just a (major) bonus.

Toys Tossed

We got rid of any toys that didn’t contribute to the childhood we wanted for our kids.

This included:

  • Things she didn’t play with
  • Noisy, light up toys
  • Toys that didn’t lean toward imaginative play
  • Collections of toys that were just dumped on the floor and left every day
  • Unloved stuffed animals
  • Hand-me-down toys that never interested her
  • Toys that encourage behaviors we don’t want for her (such as multiple play cell phones – we don’t allow small screens for our kids)
  • Broken or damaged toys

I tend to bag the toys and set them in the garage for a few weeks. If she asks for a toy, I’m happy to pull it out and let her keep it, but so far she hasn’t seemed to miss anything.

Toys Kept

We kept toys that contribute to the childhood we want for our kids.

This includes:

Books

In our home, books deserve their own category.

I know there are so many out there that encourage a restricted number of books for kids and…

I just don’t agree with that.

In order to raise a reader and give your kid their best chance in life, I believe they should be surrounded by books and read to daily.

Check out this article explaining the importance of books in the home.

How toy minimalism can improve your life.

What We’ve Gained

More room for play…

Literally more room for my daughter to move and dance and play.

More imaginative play…

When we started clearing the toys, my daughter’s imagination absolutely blossomed.

She started giving her toys voices and storylines, and told us stories over dinner.

She was able to entertain herself for ages over the simplest of items.

“Play is the work of the child.” -Maria Montessori

Here are 10 reasons why play is important.

More independent play…

My daughter has learned the joy of sitting down with her toys independently and keeping herself entertained.

More contentment…

I wasn’t the only one drowning in toys, so with fewer toys came an increase in contentment for my daughter. She is easily able to find the specific toys she wants to play with without the hassle of digging through a ton of stuff.

More curiosity…

While this may be a normal milestone development for children, I’ve found that there’s been a definite increase in the curiosity that my girl exhibits. I love hearing her ask, “Mommy, what is that?”

Less boredom…

Surprisingly, with fewer toys, we have way less boredom! My daughter has found creativity and imagination to be her BFFs, and it’s a rare thing to see her without her favorite gorilla in one hand and her doctor kit in the other.

She no longer dumps toys out without playing with them.

Less stress for mama…

Which means less stress for my little.

We’ve found that a less cluttered home is a calmer home, which brings with it security, comfort, and peace.

Less cleaning…

Which means more playtime with my kids!

This has led to feeling…

More connected to my kids…

When the house is under control, I adore sitting down and connecting with my girls.

A cluttered house can be a barrier between you and that connection.

It’s time to clear the barrier, mama.

All of this has led to…

A happier home.

Less clutter. More play.

Less stress. More connection.

How toy minimalism can improve your life.

Alternative gifts for birthdays and holidays

Part of toy minimalism is being more intentional with what is brought into your home. 

This includes gifts from holidays, birthdays, etc.

Do I think you need to cut off family members from being able to give your kids gifts? NOPE.

I know mine and my husband’s parents love showing affection through gifts for the girls, so I would never take that away from them.

You can express to them specifically what types of gifts you’d like your littles to receive, though.

Here are some alternatives to asking for toys:

  • Experiences/Memories – Let the grandparents take them to a special museum or play place, get ice cream, go swimming at the water park… anything that creates a great memory and experience
  • Monthly postcards, letters, or fun mail
  • Memberships for the zoo, aquarium, etc.
  • Music, such as kid’s CD’s of classical music or their favorite Disney Music CD
  • Musical instruments, such as this Band-in-a-Box
  • Money to contribute to a college fund or savings account
  • Piggy Bank
  • Monthly subscription boxes, such as Bookroo or Kiwi Crate
  • Games
  • Classes, such as a music class, swim class, or gymnastics
  • Travel supplies, such as their own Suitcase and bathroom bag
  • Sleeping bag
  • Backpack
  • Dress up clothes
  • Art supplies
  • Puzzles
  • Photobook
  • Special bath towel
  • Bean bag chair

It’s All a Journey

Are we hardcore minimalists when it comes to the toys? Not yet, but we work each day to get rid of the unnecessary toys and we’ve become more mindful of the types of toys we allow in our home.

Did we throw everything out? Nope! She still has quite a few toys, but we’re more intentional about what toys we purchase or keep.

Why Does Pursuing Toy Minimalism Matter?

Personally, I want to teach my girls to surround themselves with items that are useful and loved.

I want them to learn the beauty of a clean and clear space free from clutter.

I want them to learn to be thoughtful about what they buy, accept from others, and allow to be in their homes.

The only way to teach our children these lessons is through our own actions.

This is something to work toward daily for them.

My girls have changed my view on life, home, and my role as a wife and mother. They’ve taught me what I need to teach them.

Mamas, You are the Hub of Your Home

You may feel that you spin and spin all day, but you are the centrifugal force that holds your home together, and if you stop spinning it may all fall apart.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take a day off now and then.

I say this to help you keep in mind WHY you want to cut back on the toys.

The tone of your home is set by YOU.

If you are stressed, unhappy, depressed… doesn’t it make sense that the state of your home and the family members in it would reflect that?

If you’re happy, motivated, and calm, it will influence the state of your surroundings and your family members in a positive and uplifting way.

What kind of life do you want to help create with your family?

Is your home a place your husband is happy to come home to?

Are YOU happy to be there?

Is it a place where your kids can feel calm and secure?

When it gets tough to throw out the toys due to nostalgia or guilt or fear of wasted money, keep your end goal in mind. Remember your why. Remember what you’re working to create for yourself, your family, and your home.

What benefits of toy minimalism speak to you the most? What are your favorite non-toy gifts? I’d love to hear from you!

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16 Comments

  • Alina

    Great article! We feel like we still have too many toys, but we be been pretty intentional about what comes in and going through things periodically. I usually give grandparents specific ideas for special occasions, things that line up with the childhood we want for our kids. Stencils and a tea set are coming up for birthday and Christmas. 🙂

    • simplequietmama

      Thanks! We still have too many, too, but just being aware of what all is coming into your home and what’s already there can make a big difference in how you approach the toys. Great gift ideas!!
      -Lacey

  • Crystal

    I love this!! I am now motivated to start throwing unwanted and unloved toys out. I think the fear of wasted money is a big problem for me. But more important than that is what I’m teaching my boys about hanging onto things just for the sake of it…no more clutter!

    • simplequietmama

      The fear of wasted money is SO real! Just remember, the money is already gone. How much more will you save in the future by NOT purchasing things/toys on a whim? Your boys won’t miss the clutter!

  • Shaina Griffin

    I absolutely love the idea of toy minimalism. I work at a preschool and my boss gave me so many posters and announcements to hang up and I told her that if you hang too much nobody will know what to focus on and they’ll end up not looking at it at all. I think it is the same thing with toys. If they have too much then they won’t know what to focus on and will not play with it or jump form toy to toy with no real interaction with it. We even rotate toys. When I see that they are bored with 1 batch then I rotate them with another batch. Their imaginations have space to play when there are less toys around.

    • simplequietmama

      Exactly! And I love that you took control of your classroom when it came to all of the posters and announcements. Way to go! You’re so right about that. I’m about to start a batch rotation for my toddler and can’t wait to see how it goes! Thanks for stopping in! -Lacey

  • Jessie @ This Country Home

    This is such a great article! I think as parents we start out our parenting journey with the best of intentions but somewhere along the way we get overwhelmed & before we know it we’re drowning in child clutter! I can’t believe that there’s folks out there that believe you should limit books-those people wouldn’t like my house!
    Jessie @ This Country Home recently posted…Easy Homemade Bath SaltsMy Profile

    • simplequietmama

      Haha they wouldn’t like our home either! We have SO many children’s books and my girls love it! Thanks so much for stopping in and reading! -Lacey

  • Elizabeth

    I really enjoyed reading this! I have been trying to decrease the number of toys in our house as well. I liked your list of other gifts besides toys, I tried to achieve that this Christmas. Did you have any pushback from family on wanting to buy toys and not some of your suggestions? Do you have any advice on how to deal with that? Thanks!

    • simplequietmama

      Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by and reading! As far as Christmas with our family – I put together a pretty detailed Christmas list for my girls including both experience gifts (zoo membership) and toys that lead to the childhood I want for them (aka toys that help grow imagination or help them learn). I also include “furniture” such as a fun teepee for my girls to play in and a kid’s couch that doubles as giant building blocks and play mats. Our families are really good about sticking to the list. We’ve made it clear to both sets of grandparents through conversations throughout the year why we choose the toys we do for our girls, and that it’s important to us that they not be stuck in front of small screens all day, so when Christmas rolls around they are mindful of any “extras” they buy that aren’t on the list. My best advice – Make it a conversation topic that comes up often. Let them know WHY you’re choosing experiences over light up toys or wooden blocks over video games. And if your kiddos receive gifts that aren’t exactly “approved,” accept them with grace, allow them to hang out for a while, and then quietly let them go at a later time. I hope that helps a little bit! -Lacey

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