When I was faced with packing a few toys for our holiday I couldn’t really put my finger on what I’d seen our two daughters enjoying lately as they’d just been sorting of flitting from toy to toy, never really spending much time with any one thing. Then I came to the conclusion this is probably due to the sheer volume of toys and the fact they are all always accessible/visible/in my sodding way. And we all know how hard it is to make a decision when you’re faced with too much choice, right?! So, I decided a ‘downsize and rotate’ experiment was desperately needed to help my little ones play more effectively and have more fun – and because it’s been a massive success, I thought I’d better share the details with you lovely lot.
To start with I tackled the cuddly toys. They were NOT an easy place to start – once those stuffed bastards have been cuddled it’s game over and they’re here to stay forever, right? Permanently grinning hug monsters stealing your home right out from under you. I managed to out about five of the happy-looking sods and we have approximately five hundred more, so they might have won this round… BUT I have a cunning plan for round two. A bag full went to live in the loft, and a few of their buddies will be joining them soon… and day by day, as long as they’re not mentioned, they’ll be drip-fed to the local charity shop. Boom!
I then moved on to two much easier categories: toys I hadn’t seen them play with for a while – the previously loved toys, if you like, and the duplicates. A few had been outgrown (think ball-posting toys great for a 9 month old but not so interesting to a now-walking 21 month old) and I can’t even tell you how many forms of stacking tower we formerly owned. There’s really no need. Duplicates were a piece of cake. What kind of crazy person would want to take care of TEN babies?!? Anyone??!!
I also chucked all the McDonald’s freebies (bar two faves) and anything broken or incomplete – and we’ve donated a fair few books as we always reach for the same few and our frequent library borrowing provides us with plenty of variety. Just keep the favourites and don’t let the guilt take hold – as long as you make the journey to the charity shop you’re doing a good deed for a great cause, so it really is win win!
(I did feel slightly guiltily about one particularly messy and irritating toy consisting of a gazillion pieces which selfishly had to go – yes, yes, the girls did enjoy a once-in-a-blue-moon thirty second play but it then took me a fortnight to tidy it away and I’d be finding random pieces for weeks afterwards: ain’t nobody got for time for that sh*t.)
A couple of larger things have gone up in the loft for a break, simply so they can re-gain some novelty value. For us, these were bigger items, things which become so much a part of the furniture that the girls just don’t notice them anymore. Think toy kitchens, ball pools, tents, that sort of thing. Our beautiful teepee tent used to be permanently up in the corner of the living room. Since being folded away and brought out randomly it is thoroughly appreciated every time it makes an appearance. With smaller items which have lost their shine, try rotating them. Find somewhere accessible (ideally only to you) and every few days switch things around to keep it interesting.
The toys which I knew absolutely HAD to stay are our glorious open-ended toys. Basically things which aren’t for any particular game or purpose. Stuff which really encourages imaginative play, like our beautiful Grimm’s rainbow.
With birthdays close-together for both of our little ones and an array of super generous friends, I’m delighted that people tend to ask me what sort of thing they need/like, as this helps reduce the risk of further duplicates and means we can avoid anything being unused. I absolutely hate waste and would feel terrible if someone spent their hard-earned cash on our family only to have their tokens of love gathering dust.
And finally, one of the biggest positives to come from this epic tidy-up: I enjoy playing now too. I think being able to see the wood for the trees has helped inspire me. This week I sat on the floor with our youngest and we separated toys into colour piles. She seemed to really enjoy it and I most certainly did too.
So it’s safe to say, when it comes to play time – less most definitely is more. Less toys = More fun, more space, more inspiration. Happy decluttering, beautiful people.