I just took away all of my kids toys. Their reaction was about what I expected.

It's been a rough week. Both kids are overly-tired, and have been running on empty most of the week. Rooms are complete disasters. Oh, and I'm in the process of weaning Ariana off of naptime and bedtime feedings, and the process hasn't been easy. And, whether it's been due to that or any other reason, Phoenix's attitude has been pretty negative. Today, after unsuccessfully trying to two overly-tired children down for naps, I had enough.

Motivated by the toy simplifying I had read about in Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, as well as bloggers Ruth Soukup from Living Well, Spending Less and Joshua Becker's Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids, I knew what I had to do. I had to simplify.



And, as soon as I did, you know what happened? The kids stopped crying. They stopped fighting. They stopped being rude, and just started running around playing like they were the happiest kids in the world. Because they were. Sometimes when things get tough, you just need to do one thing.


Phoenix & Ariana, just minutes after they had all of their toys taken away.



There's really no way to talk about taking away your kids toys without seeming like a jerk, especially to those who have never tried it before. But, that's not it. My children play with each other all the time. Given the choice, even with an abundance of toys, they often chose to play with each other instead of with their toys.

"What I find makes a toy-less existence possible, and not a random act of parent cruelty, is the presence of siblings. You need toys when you don’t have friends." - Mavis, The Bucket Woman 

In fact, when Phoenix was going to bed, he excitingly told us this, "You know what? You were right. I do like my room much better now."



Do I intend to keep the toys away forever? No. But, this experiment will have two purposes.
  • 1. It will serve as breath of fresh air. My kids often get bogged down by caring for too many toys, and it truly takes a toll on them. This will allow them to be kids, and no longer caretakers of a massive collection of stuff.
  • 2. My kids will earn back their toys one-by-one for good behavior. By reintroducing toys after there's been an absence of all of them, I'll really be able to tell which ones truly keep their interest, and which ones we could likely do without. My goal is to always have toys that my kids love to play with every day rather than toys they'll only enjoy for a few times a year.

    There are quite a few of things they can do to earn coins they can use to get back their toys. Three coins will give them the option to earn back a toy, play the Wii, watch television, play the Kindle, or have a special snack (like dirt pudding cups w/ gummy worms).


"1. Do line." refers to their morning routine. They have a line of things they need to do each morning. (Make bed, get dressed, put on glasses, eat breakfast, brush teeth, use potty, mark calendar.) If they do it to the best of their ability, they get a coin.

What do my kids have left to play with? (update 6-13-14)
When I first wrote this post, I was completely under the impression that I had, indeed, taken away all of my children's toys. That is, until they went to take a bath. They still have a complete arsenal of bath toys to play with. They also have quite a few outside toys, ride-on vehicles, bikes, a sandbox, sandbox toys, and a swingset. So, they also have quite a few toys outside to play with as well. 


Why though? Why did you take all their toys away? If you normally do it as punishment why did you arbitrarily decide to take them ALL away? Do the children think they are being punished? Are they? (update 6-25-14)
I think the massive amount of toys they had, and were responsible for caring for was overwhelming, and stressful for them. I took them all away to see if their less-than-stellar behavior was related to the large quantity of toys they had. They don't think they're being punished, and I don't feel as if this were so much a punishment, but rather a chance to give them the peacefulness we all get from a clean, uncluttered home free of things that don't matter to us. 




Next time things get a bit rough in your home, consider taking a break from toys. I know we start seeing benefits almost instantly. 

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