Toys: Avoiding the Inevitable Takeover

I’m fairly certain that no one loves picking up toys. If you look at my house between 8 P.M. and 6 A.M., you won’t generally see any toys on the floor in the main area. Cleanup each night takes about 20 minutes with all of us working together. Going along with the theme of a bare bones nursery, we try to keep the amount of toys we own to a minimum so they don’t take over our lives. Having a few favorite toys means not only less time for cleaning up, but less money spent in the first place.

The Boys’ Favorites

  1. Video games: Our current system, a Nintendo Switch, we bought new. Our previous consoles were bought secondhand or given to us. When they died, we sold the games and controllers. James watches for sales on games and buys non-Nintendo controllers from Amazon.
  2. Legos: We made our own Lego tables from $5 IKEA tables and give Lego sets for birthdays and Christmas. The boys earn a few dollars here and there for chores, so they often buy their own Lego sets.
  3. Snap circuits: One was a gift from Grandma, and the other was a Christmas gift from us.
  4. Nerf guns: James often finds used ones and buys the bigger packs of darts to get a better deal.
  5. Rocking horse: We bought a sturdy Little Tykes horse knowing that at least 2 children would play with it. It is the only “big’ toy inside, so it has a specific spot in the living room where it’s out of the way.

The Girls’ Favorites

  1. 18-inch doll: I found the doll at a thrift store for $1.50 and made the clothes from scraps.
  2. Camera: James found this toy on sale, and it’s provided hours of entertainment for our older daughter.
  3. Barbies: I found almost all the Disney princess dolls at thrift stores for $1 each. I made most of their clothes, too.
  4. Baby doll: One of these was from the thrift store (older daughter, bought with her own money) and the other was a Christmas present (younger daughter). I’ve also made clothes for baby dolls from scraps and patterns I found at the thrift store.
  5. Stuffed animals. We end up with these, and I don’t even know where they come from because I never buy them. (The bear pictured is 30 years old, originally mine from when I was a toddler.)

Minimizing Toys

  1. Limit the amount of toys you buy in the first place. Save them for Christmas and birthdays, and even then, don’t buy a whole bunch of them.
  2. Don’t buy toys that get on your nerves or take up tons of space. For me, that’s any toy that makes noise or that I can trip over.
  3. Don’t buy a bunch of toys for your baby. For under age 1, a few soft toys with rings are all you’ll need. From crawling age – 18 months old, your baby will improvise with boxes, crinkly paper, and anything that he/she can pull off of shelves or dump out.
  4. Wash and repair well-loved toys (especially lovies) instead of replacing them, but toss broken toys that can’t be fixed. Don’t give them to the thrift store! We’ve gotten broken stuff before, and it’s no fun.

Organizing Toys

  1. Clean up everything from the main areas at the end of the day and clean bedrooms at least 2 times a week.
  2. Keep some of the less popular toys (especially sets with small pieces) in the closet and rotate them. One set has to be cleaned up before another comes out.
  3. Organize the toys and teach your children to organize as well. The kids have to clean their closets at least once a month.
  4. Get rid of toys once in a while. A month before Christmas is when I like to pull everything out and have the kids choose what to get rid of.

I make no claim to never stepping on Legos, but my day definitely doesn’t revolve around picking up toys. (If you stop by unannounced, it will be messy!) I love seeing my kids use their imaginations to build things or create pretend schools and families. They have lots of fun with their current toys which didn’t break the bank, aren’t annoying and flashy, and don’t take over the house because of sheer volume.

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