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Reduce Clutter and Save Money on Toys

While trying to de-clutter our space I discovered that most of the pruning seemed to be coming off of our toddler’s toy stash.  Because of this I decided to talk to friends who are also parents, and ask them what their toy philosophy is at home.  How many toys do their kids have?  How often do they give old toys away?  How often do they buy new toys?  I stared at a $20 cat you could color on, forgotten in a corner, which my daughter had been excited about only a week before.  I would not count those twenty dollars as well-spent, so there had to be a better way, right?  Here are some of the different toy philosophies I gathered, and some of them I’ll be implementing at home.

Garage Sales and Dollar Store Toys

Maybe even better than shiny new playthings bought full price from popular stores.  Just think of the toys and books for the kids you can buy with your cash at a garage sale, where I’ve seen tea sets go for $2, babies’ for $3 each, and an honest to goodness branded toddler bike for $12. Unheard of if you’re trying to buy them new.  You can even get toys for $Free.99 if you do a toy swap, which many moms in playgroups do now.  They take their unwanted toys (still in good condition) and bring them to a meeting with other moms, and swap away.  Still, I know of parents who’ve found free toys from Craigslist, or toys for mere cents.

If you’re looking to treat your child to a trinket for a job well-done in something, like a potty-accident free day, good behavior, or just something to keep them occupied during an adult appointment of some sort, dollar stores are the way to go.  They have all sorts of goodies you can pick up for the low price of a buck, which can then be whipped out should the occasion arise.

Toys in Rotation, Toys in Ration

This one doesn’t necessarily save money up front, but does in the long run, aside from reducing clutter.  The parents who employ this tactic gets so many toys from friends and doting aunts/uncles, grandparents, and also purchase toys themselves that they needed a way to save space.  What they do is take many of the items the kids play with and put it in storage, only leaving out a few.  Once the kids get bored with the toys they were left with, the parents unearth some of the stored, never-before-played-with toys and present them as new.  At the same time, some of the current toys are also put out of rotation.  Kids, especially toddlers, have short memories. After a few cycles, the kids are back to their original toys, and it’s like they’re good as new!

It’s Better to Receive Than Buy

Yes, some of my friends let others buy all their kids’ toys for them.  They don’t ask, mind you.  They just wait for birthdays, Christmases, for Grandma and Grandpa to treat the kids to a few toys.  They’re of the mind that spending money on toys is a waste as kids, being fickle in nature as they are, will soon get bored with whatever they buy. But with this tactic, they limit the influx of toys, they save money, and they don’t feel frustrated when a kid breaks a certain toy or stops playing with it.

Alternatives to Toys

Parents can also opt to not let toys clutter their house at all.  Or at least keep it to a bare minimum.  Instead they buy arts and craft like water paint, brushes, construction paper, markers, easels, painting paper.  They also buy age-appropriate board games.  They encourage the kids to spend a lot of time creating artwork and crafts made from not just items bought from craft stores but popsicle sticks, and macaroni shells; you name it.  They play a lot of board games and imaginary games.  If you are into a creative/artistic lifestyle, and it’s something that interests your children, this is something that may appeal to you.

And then again, you can also mix it up.  Buy arts and crafts and have a few playthings from garage sales mixed in.  Have garage sale bought items and rotate them.  Or dollar store items and rotate those.  I think knowing many of the different ways of handing toys in the home is helpful.  I definitely have a few ideas on what I want to do at home.   Toys need not be expensive, cluttering, or a waste of time and money spent obtaining them.

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