Before hosting my daughter’s first birthday we stashed nearly all the toys in the basement. Save one small toy basket, play kitchen and a ride-on, the rest were hidden away. All this was done while the kids slept and I steeled myself for the meltdowns in the morning. Except they never came.
Literally 80% of the kid’s toys disappeared overnight and they didn’t even seem to notice. Like didn’t say one word about it.
So we stuck with it, swapping the contents of the basket and larger ride-ons every couple days. Nightly clean up time was reduced to minutes and no one seemed to be too restless with less distraction options.
It’s been six months now and I’m finally comfortable enough that no mutiny is coming to have sold our large toy storage unit and pass along quite a few less-loved items.
I’ve always tried to keep a thoughtful and small toy collection and found psychologist Kim John Payne’s book Simplicity Parenting an accessible and easy read on the benefits to children on having less stuff in their lives. https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/simplicity-parenting-using-the-extraordinary/9780345507983-item.html
Time and again he saw little people that were more emotionally balanced and happier when toys and busy schedules were simplified. And like my own experience, most of the kids he worked with didn’t even comment on a reduction in their toys, despite parents’ fears.
The book gives great advice on how to purge and the pieces to invest in, like kid-size table, costumes, a tent-like space. And those than can go, such as branded character toys with limited creative uses and noisy obnoxious toys (hurray).
Ironically after reading it I went out and bought something new for the kids- a small table and chairs as suggested. It seemed unnecessary but has become a place where both kids are drawn daily for self-directed creative play.
Simplicity Parenting offers no magic number of toys to possess and I never would have thought it’d be as low as our current number but for now its working. As the kids get older we’ll certainly need to adjust but I’m grateful for our little unplanned experiment to realize we can drastically pair down and all be happier.