kids toys, how much is too much

sunshinebubMarch 15, 2008

We have 3 kids boy girl boy aged 3, 5 and 7. We are currently looking to buy land to build on as we have outgrown our 3 bedroom home. My kids each have their special toys they always play with, eg dolls, trains, cars, doll houses etc but we have 2 big plastic crates of toys downstairs, right now sitting between the car and the boat.

They hardly ever play with these toys as they have their favourites, I am thinking of going through the boxes and giving stuff away. I mean, the toys sit there for nothing and it's driving me crazy.

Just wondering two things, how many toys do your kids have and how do you store them. Thanks.

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I'm not sure how I would describe the amount of toys we have other than to say 'it's a lot.' My kids are around the same ages as yours. Our house came with a formal dining room (~20'x20'). We use that for the playroom. I've culled a lot of toys from the room just because if it's in there, it's in the floor. If I keep it simple, they aren't so overwhelmed.

Some parents only let their kids play with with one toy or game at a time. My kids don't play that way. The mega blocks make a great foundation to prop up the train tracks or obstacle courses and then you start bringing in the cars and people and then you pull out the toy bins and shelves to build the fort so the people can hide, etc. Pretty soon, you've got kids with a great imagination and a huge mess in the floor. Since, we have lots of extra space in the upstairs room and the attic. I sometimes go through the playroom toys and remove items that I don't think are important. If the kids haven't missed something for a few months, I can make the decision to get rid of it. If the kids need or want it, we pull it back out.

As far as storage in the playroom, we have three big plastic tubs for costumes, wooden trains, and GeoTrax. We have a couple of bookshelves and then several of these cubicals (see link). Each child also has a couple of fabric bins in colors that he/she chose to store individual possesions in the cubicals. We also have one of those storage bins like you find at Target that has 16 multi-colored plastic bins for toys.
We could use some larger shelves for holding toys like battleships or completed Lego sets. Other than that, most toys are contained.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cubicals

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 9:26AM
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My dd has too many toys! Don't all kids? But as adellabedella says, rotating doesn't work w/my child either, because she incorporates blocks into animals into cars into barbie beds, etc.

There's a lot more big stuff than there used to be when i grew up...train tables and big houses for everthing from barbies to animals, and huge cars/boats,etc.

The only thing I can say is that I contain legos in one big tub, lincoln logs in one big tub, so little pieces of those aren't used unless you want to actually build with the set. If I did it again, I'd say if it doesn't fit in the bedroom, there are too many toys. kids share bedrooms and there's not a lot of extra room, and what about the big stuff? Big stuff can be in the basement or patio or even a playhouse.

But if I notice my dd isn't playing w/something for a while, I'll put it away and out of sight for awhile and if she doesn't notice, I get rid of it. Sounds mean, but geez! I find that my dd loves to make her own toys alot anyway. She'll play forever w/a toilet paper roll gecko she made. Periodically we'll go through some things. "Love it or is it so-so?" I ask. We keep the "love its" and get rid of the "so-so". But I'll hold toys up and do the "this or this" sort of culling. Works good.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 12:22PM
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I had purchased one of the Target bins for my DGD and I felt it wasn't worth the cost. If each bin had a lid, I would have felt differently but with everything out in the open, it always looked messy.

As the previous posters say, it's best to follow the lead of your children in how they play.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 1:31PM
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Thanks everyone, well that proves to me that kids all over the world play the same, as I am in Australia and my kids also get the trains out and then make bridges out of the lego blocks, then dora the explorer comes out and the animals etc etc etc.

I also like the plastic bin ideas from target but would also prefer lids for these. I am going to go through the toys this week and give some to charity. And it is true that kids make their own fun, my two girls have made a garage/motel/cafe in the backyard today by putting all the chairs, deckchairs tables around in a big circle so the cars can drive up. It's very cosy and imaginative!!!

Thanks for your thoughts.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 11:49PM
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I really don't feel like mine have too many. I wouldn't hesitate to get rid of a box of toys just sitting in the garage. I wouldn't even go through the thing, but just take it to the thrift store.

Except for outside stuff like balls, I have mine keep their toys in their room. We had a playroom in the other house and it just turned into a giant storage room for toys. In this house, we got rid of the family room concept and everyone has their own bedroom. I make sure they have enough bins or boxes, but they have all been in the habit of purging their stuff so that it never takes over.

I don't think there is any rule or set amount of toys. Just whatever works for your family. But if you think they have too many...they probably do.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 1:57AM
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I have two kids, a boy and girl ages 10 and 7. They have more than enough but not as much as a lot of kids I've seen. We don't store any outside of their bedrooms which we keep to a minimum. We go through their toys at least twice a year together to thin them out just before Christmas (to make room) and again at the begining of summer. I have always talked to them about the importance of giving to the less fortunate and it makes it easy for them to let go of some of their toys. We make 3 piles: Keep, Donate, Trash. Doing it together gives them a great feeling and they never have regrets or get upset. I will admit sometimes I encourage them to donate this or that but it's mostly their decision. If I had to guess, I would say that they keep about 25% of what they began with.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:36PM
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I picked up these at Ikea for my grandsons toys and it is the best purchase I've made. You can buy the lids (which I did) and they are wonderful. After she saw my closets my daughter went and got a bunch too. I bought more for my own things, bottom of the bathroom closet, etc. after seeing how well they worked for everything. I put pictures on the sides for his things (truck on the trucks bin; puzzle piece on the puzzles bin) and at 16 months he is figuring out we put our stuff back in the bin.
Here is the link to what I bought and they come in four colors. I am always thinking of more things I can put in them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vessla storage

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 8:16AM
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well, right now, I'd be telling you that ANY TOYS are too much!!

Can you tell I'm really frustrated by the kids' stuff in my house?

I haven't had much success in training my kids to purge. They really resist this, and Dad isn't much help at backing me up. It seems to end up w/ Mom hysterical, kids resentful, and me going behind their backs to throw stuff out.

I have tons of infrastructure, and stuff is still sitting on the floor or piled on the dresser.

Like other kids mentioned here, mine do a lot of "kit bashing," as DH the former model maker calls it. I like that they do this--I think it teaches them flexibility, inventiveness, etc. But it does make it hard to purge.

What I wish is that had less of each thing they have. DD had something like 24 Barbies. She'd get them all out--which meant a long time setting up and a long time putting away, and only a little time playing. I tried having an "only 8 Barbies at a time" rule, but if I wasn't right there to watch her every moment, she'd forget it (or defy it).

My kids are 13 and 10, and I'm ready to tell everyone in their lives, no more objects. There's very little to play with that they don't already have, so just don't buy them anything.

But then, I'd never think to buy DD an embossing tool, and she has really enjoyed that gift from her uncle & "aunt."

I just have to figure out how to get rid of things again. To carve out the time, etc.

But this weekend, I did clear out probably an entire shelf of unused crayons, markers, spirograph type stuff.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 9:54AM
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Thank God I'm not alone! I feel like my kids have way too much stuff, for sure. There are toys in my living/family room, and their rooms. I would love to keep all of their toys in their rooms, but we spend a lot of time in the living room, and it really has become a like a playroom. DD refuses to get rid of anything, even Happy Meal toys, broken crayons, she wants to keep everything. I usually go through their stuff a few times a year (when they are asleep), and I just donate whatever they don't play with. My son just turned two, so it's time to do it again, and really get rid of all the baby toys. I would love to involve the kids, because we are donating toys, and I think it's important for kids to know about giving and charity, but DD just gets too upset. Something she never plays with will suddenly become something she can't live without. She never misses anything I've donated without her knowledge though, so I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong. At night we pick up all the toys, and they go in containers, and are then put on the shelves or in the toy box. Just writing this has me thinking of all the stuff I need to go through!!!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 10:42AM
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One thing you can do is think about how you and your family want to manage "things" from now forward. Our kids did have too much stuff, but at times we were able to "stop the madness" at least by not participating in it ourselves (or not as much). For example, my DD at 17 still thinks she collects stuffed animals. She has a number of them--not setting any records, though--and at a birthday or Christmas it would be easy to say, ooh, let's get her this stuffed pig or whatever. But then we look at her room and see, well, she's got 3 shelves full or whatever. If she really wants one, she can save up the money. Same with Barbies or anything else. We tried to shift to a greater emphasis on experiences as part of gift-giving; not replacing all physical presents, and not those things that seem to provide a useful purpose --camera, musical instruments, books-but trying to replace some of the collection-type "stuff". So we might give dinner and movie with friends; special trips; shopping for special clothes. Mother and daughter trip for a manicure.

We were also maybe more tough than some of our kids' friends parents and made some things be "presents" whereas some kids get them just as standard of living.

Another thing that was really popular at sort of late gradeschool-middle-school age, when they can't drive but like to go places, was "coupons", which we used as part of their Christmas presents and required parental time and effort. "One trip to the mall (or best friend's house, or wherever)" "One free exemption from doing the dishes" "One free trip to get ice cream" "One TV show on a school night" (we did not allow any TV Sunday through Thursday). The idea was that barring a really good excuse, such as illness or emergency, they could "redeem" these coupons at anytime and we would comply with no groaning. They loved the sort of novelty and that we would "have" to do it if they pulled out a coupon. (Don't give too many!).

It also makes you think how much we seem to value "things" and having something to show for our $$. So, someone might think it is crazy to spend $50 or so on going to get nails done, but think nothing of spending the same amount of $$ on a number of "gifts" or decorative items that will eventually break, wear out, kid gets tired of after one week, etc. You have to go by what your own kids are like, and also your values; at one point my DD wanted me to take her again for manicure, etc, but because it WAS expensive, I had to say, well, that was for a special occasion, but if you want a repeat experience, it'll either have to be your birthday present, or, you and your friend should do your own together, or you should save up your own $$. But really, it's just about thinking outside of the box and moving ever so slightly away from "stuff".

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 10:59AM
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we are donating toys, and I think it's important for kids to know about giving and charity

I have not had success in making my kids think of "giving away extra or outgrown toys to the Goodwill" as "charity."

In fact, *I* don't think that giving away "stuff you don't want" counts as "charity" or even as "giving." It's not generous, to put stuff in the Goodwill/SalvationArmy instead of in the garbage.

It's sensible, and it's good, but it's not generous.

When DD was younger, I'd try the "there are kids with nothing" routine, and she'd look at me funny and say, "let's give them some money so they can buy their own, and then it will be new."

Of course, I pointed out that we didn't have *money* to spare, but we had *things* to spare, but she wasn't quite buying it, especially since she wasn't willing to "spare" the things.

Frankie, you have some great thoughts, as always. We are trying not to "participate in the madness," but it frustrates me --these are *my* kids, and I don't get to buy them presents (which I enjoy), because the extended family (who already raised their own kids!) stick their noses in and buy stuff.

and of course, the stuff they buy isn't the stuff my kids would love most, because they don't know my kids that well, etc. So if I don't buy stuff, then they just get stupid stuff, and of course the stupid stuff ends up being detritus instead of valued stuff.

The coupons idea is fun. I'm not sure how well it would work, because I'm not sure we'd be ABLE to honor them at the drop of a hat (or, the drop of a coupon?). DD really wanted to rent a movie, but there wasn't *time* anymore, we had to eat dinner, and they had to go to bed.

But we could perhaps find other ways to use that idea.

Emmhip, my kids play in the living room too, and until just recently that was fine with me. I could even let them leave an "installation" out for many days without it chafing. But lately I'm angry that I can't go sit down in my living room. (not that I'm home often enough or long enough to do so, but it sure doesn't make me WANT to come home!) Or that my living room just always looks so junky.

Yet, there really isn't anywhere else to play. They share a smallish room, between the dresser, the bunk beds (AND the ladder, which sticks out at an angle, don't get one of those, they're not even actually safer), the guinea pig cage, as well as littler stuff in the corners, there isn't that much floor space.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:58PM
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Your frustration with gift-giving relatives is so understandable and apparently very common, so I sympathize.

I was EXTREMELY blessed with parents and in-laws that were very thoughtful gift-givers and did not overdo it. My father (my parents were divorced) decided to only give clothes to my girls. No competition with parents for best toy, or whatever. Utilizing helpful salesladies, he did an amazing job of buying them cool outfits from nice department stores, whereas I stuck to K-Mart, Target etc as long as I was buying for them. Conversely while he was doing that, we did not give a lot of clothes for gifts, so we did not compete. It worked great. My in-laws gave modest gifts and observed and interrogated until they could figure out just the right thing that the kid was interested in at that time, with a focus on things that expanded their horizons. And neither of them felt it necessary to give gifts at every visit just to have brought something. Also both my dad and my in-laws took our girls on wonderful trips.

You could, I guess, try something like having in a particular area, just so many shelves or bins for toys, and when full, something has to go. It is appropriate for you to have "grownup" areas and place limits, though you will feel more up to that if you identify a few nice spaces for the kids so don't feel like a meanie. At least that's how I always looked at it--I needed to feel I was being fair and a good kid-friendly parent in order to stick to any sort of limits.

And picking up--a kid should be able to pick his own stuff up. I was amazed at what our girls could do at Montessori school that they didn't seem to do at home, and duh, it was all in what was expected, plus that school really emphasized simplicity and a place for each item.

It seems better if the kids would not have to get so much that they become less caring about any given thing, or feel like they're doing something wrong if they didn't bring the stuff on themselves; if people could somehow politely convince relatives what not to give--or maybe, the reverse, steer them into something--but my impression from talking with other people is that that's quite hard to do and always risks hurt feelings.

So, some limits on space, some stealth purging--good luck!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 4:33PM
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My teenage stepsons' old toys are packed up in a variety of boxes and stored in our house. Their mother lives in an apartment and doesn't have room for any of it, so we're stuck storing it until she does or until the boys get their own apartments. Fortunately we have tons of closet space and an attic. But, still, personally I'd like to haul most of it to Goodwill. I'd say if you can get rid of some of it now, go for it! Maybe keep a few sentimental items--sentimental to you and/or to them--but give the rest away. If Goodwill won't take stuff, try Freecycle dot org. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 4:32PM
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I used to sneak into my girls rooms when they were younger (between ages 4 and 11) and grab toys and donate them to charity. I would do this just before birthdays and christmas. One year, I had them gather up old unwanted toys (nothing broken or missing pieces) to "give to poor kids". Made them feel good and made room for new toys. As they got older, I found they let go of toys easier. I'd find bags of stuffed toys up in the attic. They didn't want to actually get rid of them, just get them out of sight. Last Christmas I brought about 50 Beanie Babies to a Day Care Center. My daughters are now 18 and 19 and I notice their rooms are pretty neat. Well, not exactly, the older one is a clothes horse. She has no toys in her room but does have piles of clothes on the floor. She spends her entire paycheck on clothes. She loves H and M. the younger one is much neater and also much tighter with money. But the toys are finally gone.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 8:41PM
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Sunshinebub, I think you are on the right track. Your kids are also at the age that the same toys can be played with for a long time, as in the 3 year old has or will become interested in the 7 year old's stuff etc, so it can be hard to cull. Keeping the less played with toys in the seperate bins and noticing how often they are pulled out is a good way to judge.

We moved over 2 years ago into a rental while building our new home, and I have 2 big rubbermaids with assorted toys from my then 8& 11 year old boys stored in the basement, and judging by the infrequency that they've opened it up and pulled something out to play with, I get to garage sale most of it this spring. Now they are 11 & almost 14, and even with the lego, I can tell they pull that out with mild interest, and play or fool with it for a shorter amount of time, and are moving on to other activities that don't require toys as much. I find limiting their amount of toys also forces them to make their own kind of play, and now they both are enjoying making their beloved cat 'cat stands/houses/sitting stools/furniture' using old lumber and their dad's tools.

I used to sneak unused toys of of site and donate, but then I realized they weren't learning about managing their 'clutter', and reverted to explaining at Christmas and birthdays (when they usually received many new things) that they should think about donating such and such, or something of their choice, in an effort to teach them that they don't have to hang on to everything that is given to them (unlike their dad, who tries to keep everything, but that's another post!).

Keep on doin' how you're doin'.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2008 at 10:34AM
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Hey sunshinebub
Are you near the Gold Coast?
I was lucky enough to visit there last year, and I'm READY to come back! :-)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 12:44AM
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We have a family ritual that includes participating in Operation Christmas Child in November. The program collects shoe boxes filled with small toys and items and then distributes them to children in the US and abroad. I think they distributed 7 some MILLION in '07.

During the summer, we go garage sale-ing to find new or like new items to fill our shoeboxes. We mostly look for girl stuff since I have two boys. The when school is getting ready to start, we go thru all of the toys that we own. The boys pick out things that they no longer want. I decide if it is salvage-able (or throw it away) and then either save for shoeboxes or I pack away for younger son in future years. During back to school sales, we stock up on pencils, glue, etc etc for our shoeboxes. Then a few weeks before the Collection day, we spend the whole day organizing everything and packing the boxes. Having their own jobs for filling the boxes seems to keep them on task and avoids the 'reattachment' to some toy they said previously they did not want.

One last family rule: I don't allow 'fluff' toys. I let my kids decide (with guidance)what they want to ask for on birthday and for Christmas (but only after alot of thoughtful planning and dreaming). I do not buy my kids the same number of toys, and we go thru gifts before opening them and if the kids do not want them, we put them away for Shoeboxes. I really emphasize keeping things we really really want and sharing the things we do not really want. So far it has worked well for our family and hopefully has blessed several other children in addition to my own learning to be generous.

Remember, when in doubt, throw it out LOL
Stacey =)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 7:33PM
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My kids also have to many toys, like most kids. One way we kinda keep things in check is that we have a rule that 'Santa' only brings as many toys as you give away. My kids are tripping over themselves giving stuff away at Christmas and it doesn't break my heart since I know they'll get that many or more :) We also do the same at birthdays with each individual childs toys.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 9:40AM
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DS2 has a large toy chest in his room filled with Little People, dinosaurs, balls, swords, etc. In the rec room there is a large rubbermaid tote of Thomas track and fabric tote of Thomas trains as well as a Thomas set up. There are 2 large rm totes of legos(most of which belonged to DH,) 1 large rm tote of transformers(half are the heavy metal collectible ones - DH again,) 2 large rm totes of Knex, plus the ball tower and raging coaster, 2 large rm totes of Rokenbok, 1 steamer trunk of hot wheels playsets, 2 rolling car carriers of hot wheels, 1 toy kitchen with 2 wicker baskets of play food, marble run sets, slot car sets, lots of games, laser tag vests, nerf guns, a 7' air hockey table, and competition sized foosball table.

I know the sheer volume seems excessive and ridiculous, but we do give away toys twice a year and at Christmas we have a rule that any box that has not been opened at the end of day 3 is donated. DS1 was the only grandchild on either side of the family for the first 6 yrs of his life as well as the only great grandchild on the one side. He had many childless aunts and uncles as well as our close friends who he refers to as aunt so&so. They all doted on him. My little brother now has 5 nieces and nephews, but DS1 is still the special one.(for Christmas this year LB gave DS1 an LCD TV and wall mount, the others got plastic toys from Big Lots.)

Many of the build it toys like legos, etc. foster creative play and imaginative thinking. We've containerized and labeled things as best we can. Someday when DS2 no longer plays with toys, I can clear it all out. I'll cancel my gym membership and move a bunch of equipment into the rec room.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 2:42PM
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myself i would give them away..if they miss them really badly maybe buy them something new and small to compensate..and then at birthday and holiday timne, tell them a New Rule..every new toy that they get because they wanted it, means, one toy leaves for a out..that would not include a tacky toy from uncle jo that just isn't cool

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 6:35PM
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I often think that my difficulty letting go of things was either started or strengthened by my mother's throwing away of some of *my* toys when I was young; it made my possessions dearer and I held on tighter. Wish that she had gently encouraged me and used the opportunities for teaching moments as Kioni figured out. And BTW even as a small child I felt that it was wrong....even if I didn't realize it right away, eventually I'd miss something, and resent her. This was not not a good model of behavior, either, toward her children once we were old enough to realize it.
Forgot to ad that as kids, my sister and I used to wonder how she would feel if she came home and found someone had decded to throw out some of her things because it was decided she didn't *need* them anymore or because *they* didn't like it, etc.!!!

This post was edited by peegee on Fri, Jan 25, 13 at 11:33

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 11:26AM
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I'm with you, peegee. We moved houses. A lot. I went to 8 different public schools and 3 high schools. My mother had purging and packing down to a fine art, and as a result, all of my childhood toys, (some really neat ones from an uncle stationed in Germany after the war) were given away to younger cousins and charity.
Please let your kids keep the ones that have sentimental meaning, and maybe some that you think they have grown out of.
Sometimes they can provide a little bit of stability, and fond memories to carry along life's journey. I am sixty one now, and my Uncle that gave me my "Germany" toys just passed away.
I wish I still had my little Steiff bunny rabbit to remember him by.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 2:20PM
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Children's toys first is security, followed by the so-called puzzle. In fact, I personally think, guaranteed as long as the safety of the toys, the children like to play What toys did children's innate curiosity and strong, like the (discounted toys), and it will soon be the new toys to attract. Sometimes see children broken ring toys, play with toys, or do not follow the normal play, it does not matter to his research, the time also with his "research", I always remember a word: nothing spent on children who the time is superfluous.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:01PM
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"I always remember a word: nothing spent on children who the time is superfluous."


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 4:12PM
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