On most days, our house looks like a toy store. There are more trains, cars, trucks, ride-on toys, puzzles, books, and stuffed animals than any child should have. It doesn't come from my wife and me. There are several doting grandparents in the mix who love to see their grandchildren with new — and often noisy — toys. Yes, children can have too many toys, and it's created quite a challenge for me and my wife. Here are a few rules we're instituting to effectively deal with toy overload in our home:
We try to switch the toys by looking at what toys the kids play with the most and which ones they seem to have outgrown. We put them in the garage or in a closet and bring them out every few months.
Twice a year we plan to donate toys to a non-profit, needy family, or friends with younger children. This is a great way to teach our children the joy of giving to others and clean out the playroom at the same time.
Whether it's ebay, Craigslist or a store in your neighborhood, the market for used toys that are in good shape is strong. You might as well earn a buck or two while you're downsizing the toy collection.
4. Resist the Urge
Every time I walk into a toy store or big box store I instantly see 20 things my kids would love. As a doting dad it's hard not to reach for those items. But if you resist the urge to buy, it will save you money, create space in your house and keep your kids from getting spoiled rotten.
5. Holidays and Birthdays Only
Try to be consistent and only give your kids toys on their birthdays and at holidays. Otherwise, the clutter accumulates and after a while there are so many toys that your children can't possibly play with them all.
6. Find Other Ways to Give
You can politely ask family members to go easy on the toys at birthday time or the holidays and instead ask for donations to your child's college fund or savings account. It's not as much fun as seeing a child tear open a gift but the effects will be much more lasting.
7. The “1” Rule
It's the want, need, wear, read rule. During the holidays, try to follow this rule — your child receives one toy, one piece of clothing, one thing they need like a backpack for school and one book.
8, Toys They Can Grow Into
If you're overloaded with toys for your children now, ask for toys that your child can grow into or play with in 6 months or a year. By then you can remove another toy and add a new one to the mix.
9. Buy One, Remove One
Make a rule that every time a new toy comes into your house, a toy gets put away or given away. That will significantly cut down on the clutter and is an easy rule to follow.