The Problem With Toys

As is the case with 99% of families I know, we have a serious problem at our house.

Mason has TOO MANY TOYS.

Seriously, we never intended it to be like this – our house looks like a toy store exploded and picking up every night takes longer than one DVRed sitcom. Grandma buys him a new toy EVERY SINGLE WEEK (and yes, we’ve talked to her again and again). It’s like they’re multiplying while we sleep. The dog and husband are ALWAYS tripping over toys (me, I look where I walk) and this insanity needs to end.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how kids who have fewer toys tend to use their imaginations more, play longer with the same items (instead of bouncing from toy to toy), struggle less with picking up when they’re done playing, and take better care of their stuff. Don’t those all sound like a much better alternative to buying a third toybox?

Well it just so happens that the huge fall consignment sale is in a few weeks. Perfect timing, right?! I went into this with big plans to purge purge purge.

Only, I’m coming up blank.

Yes, Mason still has toys that he is way too old for. I’m looking at you, ball popper and ride-on zebra. Except, he plays with these things ALLLL the time. He sobbed and cried for two hours when I tried to give away the ball popper a few months ago. I can’t see selling something he’s so attached to.


He has 6 fire trucks. No kid needs 6 fire trucks, he only has two hands for pete’s sake! Well, he makes fire truck fleets. They work together and put out fires and pull the bus out of the ditch. Every fire truck has a job. So no go with the fire trucks.


Okay, so he has like 15 monster trucks. Again, two hands, 15 trucks…. Well, he lines them all up and they jump over one another, crash into each other, different days he plays with different trucks. And he knows which ones he has, so I don’t think I could sneak some away.

I have a HUGE bag of  MegaBlocks that I got at Goodwill for a killer deal. He wasn’t too interested in them the last time we had them out (which was at least 7 months ago – my fault) and I feel like these are a no brainer to get rid of. Only, what if this winter he’s ALL ABOUT building stuff with blocks and I end up having to spend $40 on something I use to have in the basement and only paid $8 for. I feel like I’m saving money by hanging on to these.

We do the toy rotation thing. Things go in the basement and new toys come up. A lot of the stuff (like his toy kitchen) he asks for again and again. Obviously, the toy kitchen shouldn’t go anywhere, even though it’s been in the basement for a month. But what about the stuff he doesn’t ask about? Well, when he goes to the basement and sees those toys, he’s like a kid on Christmas – super excited to see his truck/tractor/toy that has been off rotation and begs to bring it upstairs.

So how the heck do I eliminate toys? What do I sell? I realize he’s three and I’m the boss, but the soft-hearted mom in me doesn’t want to get rid of stuff that would make him cry if it was gone. The thrifty person inside of me doesn’t want to get rid of stuff that I might want to re-buy down the line. I really don’t feel like he has any toys that he’s not interested in, but since he has SO MANY TOYS that doesn’t seem possible, does it?

How do you decide what stays and what goes? Is there an age where you say “You shouldn’t play with X anymore?” How do you convince people to STOP BUYING YOUR KID stuff? How many toys is too many? Do you rotate toys? How do you decide if a toy is “unused” and when it’s time to get rid of it? I would LOVE people’s feedback on this issue!

8 thoughts on “The Problem With Toys

  1. karen

    great post babe…I have a rule that if something comes in something goes out…that goes for all of us in our house. no exceptions.

    I also tell Dino if he hasn’t played with a baby toy in a bit then he has to donate it. We have a tiny apt, so all his toys are in the closet;…neatly organized. If something doesn’t fit then we need to see what he plays with and doesn’t play with. Also for xmas and bdays…same rule applies. you get all new toys.,..let’s donate what youdon’t play with as much to make room.

    Stopping by from Mommy Monday Blog Hop, have a great day

  2. Ashley

    My little one is right around the corner of being 8 months old. She has a ton of toys, and every night I clean them up, it seems like there’s more of them. Lol. Most days she’ll play with stuff that isn’t even a toy. She’ll find a box, or one of my books, etc.

  3. Sarah

    With 6 kids, we would be totally overrun with toys if we didn’t keep after it. Honestly, I get rid of things every week. Even if it’s something tiny like a broken game piece or something- I MUST get rid of something. Before Christmas and birthdays we do a huge collection as a family and I ask the kids (that are old enough) to get something that they’re willing to part with and we put it in the donation box. Then, I do my own sweep through it all once they go to bed. It sounds cruel to get rid of their things but that it so NOT the case. My 3yr old daughter had these 2 dolls (one was mine and one was a neighbors). You know when dolls are so beat up they look scary? These were horror movie material, but she LOVED them. So, I hid them away one day when she wasn’t around. She has yet to say a word and it’s been weeks. If they have outgrown the toy, it’s gone- played with or not. Broken? Missing a piece? Gone. Sometimes they do notice that things are gone, but I explain that they have plenty while some kids do not and I leave it at that.

  4. Sarah

    You KNOW I have this same problem! I would love to see what other people say, too… We have actually *seriously* cut down on the amount of toys Cole gets at his birthday parties just by me being a crazy b*tch and bullying people; we had 60+ people at his party and he got about half a dozen toys. I told everyone no presents, and when they said “I HAVE to get him something,” I strongly recommended hand-me-downs, gift cards, and movie tickets. I also posted my present buying post on my wall on FB a few times. There are still those who don’t listen, but it has definitely cut down. My mom spoils him rotten – but I’ve gotten her trained to mostly get clothes now (gee, Mom, Cole could really use a new winter coat this year…) or keep the toys she buys him at HER house so he has things to play with there. So, to sum up – holy long comment! – our strategy is more to limit incoming toys rather than to cull existing ones. It seems the minute I pick something to toss or give away, Cole shows renewed interest. Sigh.

  5. Sim @ Sims Life

    We have so many toys in our house but so few actually get used! It’s the little things like teddies that are played with more often. To be honest my daughter would keep herself amused for hours with sellotape and paper alone – it would be fine if I wasn’t left with all the tidying up!

    Sim @ Sim’s Life x

  6. Ruth

    It’s hard because some of us (cough cough) are collectors or become personally attached to things … because of the memories they bring! And then I have the same thrifty part in me that doesn’t want to give or throw stuff away that I might want to buy again, or save for the next child …. oy. THEN you have a kid who is the same way …. (one of my is very attached to things … part OCD, actually) …….. I would have to “disappear” stuff under cover of darkness. All this to say — yes, if you can limit what comes in, great …. if you can somehow get the kids to give things away to younger kids or kids who don’t have as much, that helps …. and my biggest tip is that those black plastic (non-see-through) contractor garbage bags are really good …. Good luck!!!!

  7. Laura @ Things I Said I'd Never Do

    I found you have to cut out all sentimentality when purging toys. You have to be cold and calculating. Its hard, but he won’t be ruined for life if you get rid of the wrong toy. We usually do it at night when Little Man is sleeping so he can’t get emotional over something he hasn’t touched in 2 months.

    Also, it easier to get rid of stuff if you’ve had a few glasses of wine!

  8. Becky

    Great post! We don’t have that problem yet, but I think we are going to have it soon because my toddler (currently 21 months) is just getting really interested in all of her toys. Between her birthday and Christmas, I have a feeling that we are going to be overrun by toys soon. My issue is that even once she is too old for the toys, I feel compelled to keep them in case we have another child. Does anyone else do that?

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