Episode 002: Let's Talk About Toys
As moms, we are always trying to find ways to better our children’s lives, and we all know children learn through play. So we think that if kids learn through play, and my job as a mom is to help my child learn, grow, and develop, then I will give them all the toys I can help promote that. How many toys should children have? Let’s talk about it!
In this episode, Diana shares how her children’s number of toys has changed over the years and what she noticed in their quality of play.
We’ll also discuss…
- How do kids play when they have lots of toys compared to minimal toys
- What does research show about the number of toys is best for children
- Release the guilt around what you’ve done in the past and embrace having fewer toys
What can you expect from this podcast and future episodes?
- 15-20 minute episodes to help you tackle your to-do list
- How to declutter in an effective and efficient way
- Guest interviews
- Deep dives on specific topics
Find Diana Rene on social media:
Episode 002: Let's Talk About Toys
You're listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast. A podcast built specifically for busy moms, by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Renee, and in 2017, I had my second daughter and it felt like I was literally drowning in my home. Okay. Not literally, but I felt like I couldn't breathe with all of the stuff surrounding me. Over the next 10 months, I got rid of approximately 70% of our household belongings and I have never looked back. I kind of feel like I hacked the mom's system and I'm here to share all the tips, tricks, and encouragement. Let's listen to today's show.
Welcome to another episode of The Decluttered Mom Podcast. Today, we are going to talk about toys. This is like a love, hate relationship topic for so many of you. And I totally understand that, but I think it's an important one. So we're going to talk about it. Prior to my decluttering journey, I didn't really understand any type of correlation between how many toys my kids had, and how well they played, or how independently they played, or how creatively they played. I always just assumed that giving them more toys would mean more options and would mean more play. And, would be a great thing for them. As moms, I think we are always trying to find ways to better our children's lives.
We all know that kids learn through play. Right? And so we are constantly fed this information that we have to provide toys for them that are going to help with their development, right. And so we always think that, okay, if kids learn through play and my job as a mom is to help my child learn and grow and develop, then, of course, I'm going to give them all the toys I possibly can that are going to help promote that. But that's the thing we actually are hindering them when we provide too many toys and too many options. So we're going to talk all about this today.
And I want to start with when I was a first-time mom and my eight-year-old was born, she didn't have like any toys, right? Obviously, she was an infant and I think she got like a couple of books and like rattles at the baby shower. And that was about it. And as she started to crawl and things like that, I think I got her one of those things that she could like swat at the toys that were above her and then a couple of more rattled type toys.
But besides that, she didn't really have a lot of toys, and I don't know if it was like my inner Minimalish like trying to come out, but, but I just didn't see the need to get her a lot. But here is the thing, then we started having play dates and we started going to friend's houses that had kids of similar ages and we would walk into their playrooms and I would be amazed at the amount of toys that these kids had. And I was like, crap, what? Like, am I hindering her? Because I'm not giving her all of these different play opportunities. I guess I need to get her more toys. And so I started buying more toys. I started asking for toys for Christmas and birthday, and I started researching like, what toys are good for development for her age and so I would get a bunch of those. Next thing I knew, by the time she was two or so she had an entire room full of toys, but she also had an entire playroom full of toys. And I would get so frustrated because she would go into her playroom, she would look at something, maybe play with it for like 10 seconds, put it down, look at another thing. Maybe you play with it for 20 seconds. And then be like, mom, I'm bored. And I was like, how? There is no possible way that you are bored with the amount of toys and activities that you have to do in this house. And I would get frustrated and I would also just be confused because it felt like I was doing the best that I could to provide all of these things for her, she got so many kind gifts from family members and friends, and it was like, why doesn't she play with her toys? I don't understand. Fast forward to when I went through the decluttering process and we got rid of like close to 70% of our household belongings, that included toys as well. So she went from a lot of toys, to not very many toys in her playroom and in her room.
And I still remember that the first time she went into her playroom, after I did this, like massive ruthless declutter, she played for so long. She not only played for so long, it just felt like her play was better quality. If that makes sense. She wasn't going from toy to toy to toy. She wasn't playing with one toy for 10 seconds, for 20 seconds, for 30 seconds, she was playing with a toy for an hour. My second was really little when I went through the whole decluttering process, she was only like 10 months old. And so she was not really at a stage where she was like playing with actual, real toys yet. But as she grew into it, her attitude throughout her toddlerhood and preschool years were just so different because she didn't have the toys overwhelming her.
So after I saw kind of what was happening with my oldest's play situation or play quality and her just playing independently for so long, I started to look into research. Is this just my kid? Is this like a real thing? Like what's happening here because she had everything she could possibly want in that playroom before, and she didn't want anything to do with it. And then we reduced it to almost nothing in there and it was like a Haven for her. So what was happening? I started researching and I discovered a lot of scientific research studies that have been done on quality of play in toddlers and kids. And there were two that really stuck out to me specifically. One from like the late seventies and that was published in 2018. And they were similar studies, they were done in similar manners, but slightly different. And essentially they took toddlers. So I believe it was 18 to 30-month-old toddlers, so basically, two years give or take 6 months. These toddlers were given two separate play situations on different days at different times.
And they vary the times and days to kind of control the study and make it an accurate study. The first play situation they were brought into a room with not a lot of toys and I'm not going to tell you the number yet, because I want to talk about kind of the findings first. So they were put into a room with not a lot of toys for 10 minutes and they were just given like free play time.
They could just go play with whatever toys that they found. And then they just kind of examined and watched them and saw how they interacted with the toys in the room. The second situation is they put them in a room with a lot of toys and then they observed how they play. How they interacted with the toys, what they did with the toys.
And again, they observed and just kind of watch what was going on. What they found was that when they went into the room with not a lot of toys, the kids were playing much more independently. They were playing longer with one specific toy and they were also finding different ways to play with each toy.
So they were not only playing with the toy in one manner, but they were like coming up with creative ways to play with that toy, which they have found that when kids are able to play independently and more creatively like that, that is where they are really learning. Right. That's where the cognitive development is happening.
Then in the second situation, they were put into a room with a lot of toys. They were kind of task switching. So they were going back and forth between the toys. They were not playing independently for very long, and they would only use a toy for like one purpose and then they would put it down and they would move on to the next toy, so there wasn't a lot of creative play happening. It was just kind of like, they were overwhelmed by all of the choices and they wanted to see everything. And so they were just kind of moving around and not really getting into a groove of playing independently or creatively in that room. But here's the crazy thing, you guys, the room that had a lot of toys in one study was only 12 toys. And in the second study, the room with a lot of toys was only 16 toys. That's not a lot of toys. Like I think that is 12 or 16 toys in a room would be considered very, very minimal in our current society. Especially in the United States.
I believe the average kid in the U S currently has set between 70 and 200 toys. So can you imagine if your child walks into a room with 200 toys, when we already know that they're going to feel overwhelmed and not play very productively, creatively, or independently if they only had 12 in a room? Like that is just mind blowing to me.
So the rooms that had a smaller amount of toys, so not a lot of toys, that they played really well in, were three and four in the separate studies. Three and four, you guys for a toddler. And we think that we have to give our kids the world when it comes to physical toy items. And that's just not the case.
As moms, we are trying to do the best that we can. Right. And we don't even realize that we are actually, not knowingly, messing up our kid's play. I had been doing it for years and years, and I even fall into that trap sometimes still as my kids move into new phases of life and new interests and things like that, sometimes I still fall into the trap of providing too many toys, or too many things that they're interested in even though I know that giving them less, is actually, what's going to keep them happy and playing creatively and allowing them to develop through play in a really, really great independent way.
Think about when our kids are babies or they're, you know, starting to be like toddlers, they're starting to crawl around or starting to walk and think about the things that they're interested in. They're interested in the tissue boxes. They're interested in the spatulas. They're interested in the things that you were like, why do I even buy you toys? Who of you have said it before with your kids when they were little, like, why do I even buy them toys?
All they want to play with is household objects. And I think that that's a really good key indicator our kids don't really care. They would rather play with those small things because they can find really creative uses for them, and if they're not overwhelmed with all of the options, then it's better for them.
Think about when you walk into a closet and you have so many clothing items and you know, you need to declutter, but you haven't yet. And you really love clothes and you really like having options. But when you walk into your closet, you feel really overwhelmed. It's almost like a sensory overload, right?
And, and it makes you feel frustrated. It can put you in a bad mood and you may try on like seven different things and you still don't know what you want to wear. That's kind of how our kids are feeling. When they're walking into their playrooms and they just have too many options.
I think that it's important as we're talking about toys to kind of release the guilt over this though because I think it's really easy to feel, well, shoot, like I was trying to do, I was trying to do something good for my kids and you're telling me like, I'm messing up their play and that's not my intention at all. I think it's really encouraging to hear they don't need a lot and that's going to actually help them. It's just a matter of getting to that place if they already have a lot of things, right. And so, going through and decluttering the kids' toys with them, I always encourage kids being involved, is really going to be key moving forward, and then not bringing new items into the home.
Another thing that kind of reminded me that kids really don't need a lot of toys is, anytime we have gone on vacation, or a road trip, or to go visit family, and we don't really bring toys with us. Like maybe a couple, maybe like a favorite stuffed animal and then like one or two small toys, but that's it because we're going somewhere and we're not going to like pack an extra suitcase on a cross country flight for toys. Right. And so we do that and then the kids have a great time. And they like find things to play with and we go for a hike and they end up playing for three hours with a stick.
Kids are creative by nature, and so we want to make sure that we are fostering their innate curiosity and their natural creativity instead of trying to overload them with all of the toys that are actually hindering them after all.
So I hope this was encouraging to you. Again, this is not in any way intended to make you feel bad if your kids have a lot of toys. Let me remind you that we had an incredibly packed playroom, plus bins and bins of toys in the basement to rotate in and out. Plus a bedroom, kid's bedroom, full of toys. So I am not like I was in your shoes if you are someone who is dealing with a lot of toys at this point, and there absolutely is a way out, and it is not a shameful thing to have provided your children with things that are going to, that you thought were going to help them. But I think it's just really, really interesting to see how we can actually foster a completely different childhood for them when we take away the excess, the confusion, and the sensory overload.
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