I don’t know the number of times people have commented to me that they have so many toys and their children are still bored! And usually, I agree, I have the same problem in my house, which I’m working through and trying to rectify! In this process, I’ve discovered that there are 4 main reasons why this is a problem in our houses (and it’s not that we don’t have big enough houses! Sorry if you were looking for an excuse to buy a bigger one!) and if we can apply these reasons and use them, I think our problems would be minimised.
We don’t get rid of unused toys
My eldest girl has never really played properly with dolls, yet, when her sister (who loves dolls) got a doll’s buggy, she wanted one too. We foolishly invested in one for her, which has hardly been used. It took up a massive amount of room in the playroom for years and has now progressed to the attic. I haven’t the heart to part with it yet – just in case she wants to play with it in the future (yeah right!) and because I spent a lot of money on it. I need to come to terms that it was a bad choice and someone else will get play value out of it and a charity will be benefit, if I just pass it on.
Our playroom is also full of other toys that aren’t played with but which I’m afraid to pass on, in case my children notice and are annoyed. I do sweep through the playroom every now and again and move things to the charity shop, but I should be doing this more regularly. My kids are terrible at spring cleaning and have a hoarding nature (I tell myself that they will grow out of it). Maybe the problem is that I’m not teaching them how to let go of toys that they don’t use any more. I sneak them out of the house but they don’t learn a lesson in Spring Cleaning. If you are interested in getting some tips on Spring Cleaning Toys, check out this blog.
We buy the wrong toys
Like the buggy example above, we are prone to buying our kids toys that they are not drawn to. This can happen for the following reasons:
- You played with a similar toy when you were a child and loved it and you want your child to experience what you felt
- You never had that toy but always wanted it, so you bought it for your child
- Everyone in your child’s class has one and they want to fit in
- Another child in the family has one, so you’ll buy two to avoid fights
Whatever your reasons, take a step back before purchasing toys and really think about the child (and not the toy). What does that child like to do and play with and is this new toy something similar? Impulse purchases fill our playrooms with junk a lot of the time, that’s why toy shopping online works better. It gives you space and time to really consider the purchase and the person you are shopping for.
We have unrealistic expectations of toys
Often I get so frustrated. My kids complain about being bored and yet they have a room full of toys. Somehow, I expect the toys to relieve them of their boredom. Sometimes they do, but more often they don’t. My kids aren’t crying out for more toys or games. When they are saying they are bored, they are crying out for help, not toys. Sometimes this help comes in the form of me. They want my time and attention. This doesn’t have to mean I stop doing what I’m doing and do what they want me to do. Often it means, I find a way to include them in what I’m doing. Sometimes it means taking out a book or a game and reading or playing with them. Sometimes I need to teach them again how to use their imagination with it comes to playing with the toys they have. I have to show them a toy they haven’t played with in ages (and sometimes I need to play it with them initially). We also need to teach our kids that boredom isn’t a bad thing. Often mine will complain about being bored when they are tired. Overstimulating them with toys isn’t always the answer. Teaching them to enjoy a slower pace is. Teaching them to look around them to find something to keep them happy is. This can be sitting on the sofa with a book, going outside to play, working on a puzzle. The more we expect toys to fulfil boredom calls, the more our homes will spill over with toys that don’t get played with.
We feel we owe it to our children!
I never knew what ‘Mothers Guilt’ felt like until I became a mum. If we work full time, we feel guilty that we aren’t spending time with our kids and often overcompensate by buying our children gifts to show them we love them. If we are ‘full-time’ mums, we feel our kids are missing out on social interactions and variety of toys that creches have and we feel like our kids won’t develop the same way so we buy educational toys to compensate. We need to get over ourselves. Take a step out of the pressure zone or the keeping up with the Jones’ zone and realise that our kids will turn out fine if they just receive birthday and Christmas presents. We don’t owe our kids more than this.
I am still working on this whole process but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction. My concern now isn’t on the quantity of toys my kids own but on having the right ones for each of them.