A big part of what I do and talk about is toys and their effects on children. This is something that I have become really passionate about as I have evolved in doing what it is that I do. I have gone through lots of different seasons with toys with my kids. When it comes down to it, kids play much better with less options. Scientifically, their little brains can’t handle all those options. We think we are doing them a favor by giving them all these options and providing them with all the toys we didn’t have as kids, but really it is harming them. It is super difficult for their little brains to process all that and to make a choice from all of those options.
There is nothing depriving to your kids about giving them the gift of less material things. Children thrive on less. And what a gift that is for us as parents, not only financially, but also knowing that you are not going to scar your kids by removing some of this excess or getting rid of some of the stuff, the toys!
In This Episode, Allie Discusses:
The beautiful gift that you give your kids when they have less toys.
Scientific studies around less toys + boredom with kids.
Myths around limiting your kids’ toys.
How to handle the detox period your kids’ may experience going from all the toys to less toys.
Boundaries that she has in her house when it comes to toys, technology, etc.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.
Hi beautiful listeners! Welcome to Episode 27 which is all about what happens when you take the toys away from your kids.
Sounds super mean and serious, but it’s not. I promise. That’s what this and the next episode is all about. I am going to be talking about the beautiful gift of less toys for kids and going over some scientific studies that have been done on less toys, or even no toys. I will be addressing some of the myths about limiting your kids’ toys and talking about how to handle that detox period from your kids being entertained all hours of the day and then going the exact opposite and how to handle that. Also, we will be talking about some different things that Brian and I have done in our house with toys, technology and all that.
I am really excited to dive in.
DISCLAIMER: I have a terrible cold, bordering on a sinus infection, so I am a little stuffy. I am an “oils” girl, but I have been drugging myself with actual medicine, just for you guys. I also have a heater blowing next to me on my feet. In case you don’t know, my office is an extension of our garage, so it is not as insulated and taken care of as the house. It gets cold out here. At the time of recording this, California is having a weird, cold, winter blast. Usually at this time everyone is wearing shorts and flip-flops. It is almost March, so it’s weird. But I am happy to be acting like the rest of the states in the country during this time of year, and I am dealing with it. So, if you hear the buzzing of the heater or snot coming out of nose, or whatever, I apologize. But this episode is too good to skip. So, I am going to dive in despite my very serious illness.
A big part of what I do and talk about is toys and their effects on children. This is something that I have become really passionate about as I have evolved in doing what it is that I do. I have gone through lots of different seasons with toys with my kids.
“All the toys” is where we started. We have the first grandchildren on both sides of grandparents, so in the beginning and early days, our toy room was chocked full of toy bins that were overflowing with toys. We had an entire, large-sized room dedicated to toys and it was intense. It was really overwhelming. It took up a lot of my time. I wanted to keep it somewhat picked up and organized because you could see it from the entryway and the kitchen. I didn’t want it to look like a mess all of the time. It was ridiculous. I didn’t know any other way. This is just how you did things. That’s all I knew.
I had all of the toys and didn’t want to waste anything. I didn’t know if one day my kids would want to play with something that they weren’t playing with right now. I kept everything as organized as I could and had all the colorful bins and all of that. It was insane. If you have heard my story, which I am sure most of you have, the first thing that I tackled when I had my epiphany about all of this stuff in our house, was the toys.
I don’t think that was a coincidence. I was bothered by the amount of toys in our home. I saw it but I guess I didn’t consciously realize it until that day. They weren’t serving their purpose. We had all of these toys. We had a big room full of all these amazing toys that we had bought, grandparents had bought, the kids had gotten for birthdays and Christmas over the years. Honestly, the room was pointless.
I would tell the kids to go play. I would get annoyed that they were at my feet while I was trying to get the dishes done or whatever. They would go in there for five minutes, dump everything onto the floor, and then come out complaining that they were bored or hungry, although they had just eaten breakfast or whatever. It went in this pointless cycle for so long.
When I did have that epiphany moment, the first thing I did was the toys because it was just a pointless bother. A leak on my time and my focus. The kids’ time and focus too. I didn’t realize that at the time, but it was. I got rid of almost everything except for a few key constructive or imaginative play items.
After a bit of a detox period, which I will talk about a bit later in this episode, my kids never played better. They were so little at the time, so it is incredible that it had that effect on them during a very needy, clingy part of their toddlerhood.
Now, I have a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 3-year-old, and they play all day long with almost nothing. We have a decent amount of toys now, but I notice that they don’t always play with them; they only do sometimes.
Even right now as I am recording, I can hear them upstairs running around in the loft. They are being the characters from the Mario Brothers Games. Bella is Yoshi, Leland is Mario, Hudson is Luigi, and Emmett is Bowser. They are running around making up games, stories and scenarios being those characters. They have been doing that since about 8 a.m. and it is just about to turn 10 a.m.
So, after breakfast they are still playing. This is a normal day for us. It is not a rarity. It is not just because mom is recording. Brian is inside editing and working at the kitchen table. The kids have been playing for about two hours. This is totally normal. It is amazing. It is definitely what I expect on a regular basis.
We have a Nintendo Switch, a Super Nintendo system, two big screen TV’s – one in my and Brian’s room for Netflix and chill at night, and one in the living room. We are normal. We have technology. We have the latest and greatest game system because it was a Christmas gift and the kids loved Mario. We have a bin of toys in the boys’ room and a bin of toys in Bella’s room, and a bunch of Legos in the loft. It is just not excess. It is not out of control. It is very minimal. We have what the kids like and play with.
We do a regular purge every 2-3 months. My rule is seasonal. Whenever the seasons change, we reevaluate an area of the house that needs it. It is usually the toys and clothes. We do a big purge together. We have what we need. We have what the kids like. They play all of the time. It is very simple. Technology has its limits, but it isn’t anything super harsh or hard to enforce. Everything is calm, still, and settled into this rhythm. It is really a joy.
I am telling you this because I want you to feel empowered. I want you to feel like this could happen for you. Brian and I were definitely intentional about this stuff. It didn’t happen on accident. One of my sons definitely has a tendency to get obsessive. He will play with technology all day long and stay up all night. He is the kind of kid that if there is a movie playing, he will never fall asleep. If there is something on, he is awake. He definitely gets obsessive. He asks to play with technology more than anyone, but still not more than 1-2 times a day. When the answer is, “No, not right now” it is not a big meltdown.
Even with a kid who seems to be more obsessive and technology centered, this can happen for you.
Having laid the groundwork and explained why less toys is such a good gift to give your kids, and how it looks in our day-to-day life, I want to encourage you to look up some scientific studies (link in the show notes) that have really inspired me and helped to give me clarity on kids who have less toys or even no toys at all.
When it comes down to it, kids play much better with less options. Scientifically, their little brains can’t handle all those options. They get overwhelmed; that’s why they will have tantrums or their attitudes will get really crappy. Giving them an open-ended task like “go play” and have them walking into all of those options is seriously difficult for them.
We think we are doing them a favor by giving them all these options and providing them with all the toys we didn’t have as kids, but really it is harming them. It is super difficult for their little brains to process all that and to make a choice from all of those options.
You might notice that your kids have a lot of toys and they tend to play with the same 2-3 all of the time. Or you may notice that they play with all of them over time and you can’t differentiate the toys that they play with all of the time because they play with everything at different times of the year. Both of those actions are the result of being overwhelmed.
Google this. Seriously. It is so amazing. We have a guy on our team, also named Brian, whose sole job it is to stay up-to-date for me on research surrounding children and minimalism and the idea of less toys and the effects of toys on kids. He sends me research and links to studies that are currently being done or have recently finished. I am always up-to-date on that. Brian is a great researcher and that’s why he is in charge of doing that. There is a lot of stuff out there. Again, I will link to a couple of the really good ones.
Every time there is a new study done it is always the same result. Children thrive on less. What a gift that is for us as parents, not only financially, but also knowing that you are not going to scar your kids by removing some of this excess or getting rid of some of the stuff, the toys.
I want to address some of the myths surrounding this idea. I think I have heard it all. I get a lot of emails and messages. I don’t read them all myself, but my assistant always fills me in on some things. They are always the same – it’s sad, how dare you, your poor kids, they are deprived, it’s hard for them, they are crying when I want to take their stuff away, this isn’t right, this is too hard for me as the mom to remove things because they don’t want to get rid of anything, it’s adding stress to my life. I totally understand.
But you have to understand something too. There is nothing depriving to your kids about giving them the gift of less material things. This is such a good thing for them to learn. It is such a good thing for them to see. It doesn’t have to be hard for them or you.
I think the main problem with the women who are emailing and messaging me with things like this, is they are trying to get it all done right now. They don’t want to let it unfold, let it go slow, start to implement this idea of less stuff in your family and in your home. Have less in your own self, the way you schedule your calendar, the way you do other areas in your house. Kids learn by watching you, so practice what you preach. It will happen. Things will change.
Also, around the ages of 5-6, kids naturally get very collective. Everything takes on a personality. Pieces of trash, rocks, and twigs, have life and a personality. They become obsessed. The want to keep everything and collect things. This is normal.
Know your stuff. Do your research. Know where your kids are at. Know the studies backing up the idea of less. Make decisions out of what works for your family right now. Maybe you can do a good purge session. I am not going to get into how to purge toys with your kids because I have talked about that so many times (I will link to my blog in the show notes.)
In this episode, I really want to focus on what happens when you limit the toys.
I want you to be encouraged. It is not sad. You are not depriving your kids. You don’t have to take all the toys away, shut down the TV’s, and say, “go outside and play.” That’s not what I am saying at all. Be calm. Be confident. Come at this in a way that works for you and your family. Maybe it looks slower than it did for me because my kids were so little. They didn’t really have a say; they were all under 3.
It can be in a way that works for you and only you can judge that. I am here to encourage you with what is going to happen for your family and your children if you choose to pursue this idea of less when it comes to their stuff.
Hey friends! I put together a resource guide all about decluttering your kids’ stuff. It is really a resource guide for the mom who wants to give their kids the gift of less, but wants a little bit more information on how to do that and where to start. To get that, go to alliecassa.com/shownotes/27. You will get all the links that I talk about in this episode as well as the link to download this resource guide. It is super helpful. It is made to be the natural next step for this episode for those of you who are taking action.
A couple of the studies show something that I definitely have experienced. Back in the day, six years ago, when I only had three kids and they were really little, there wasn’t a detox period. But over the years we have accumulated stuff and had to re-purge. It’s not like I purged it one time and then every season I purged the toys. There was a period of time after I decluttered the toys, where I didn’t know what was I doing, and I went 1 ½ years before decluttering the toys again.
You bet your bottom they reaccumulated, the pile grew and it got overwhelming again. As I went through the process of toys coming in and going out, I experienced times that it was “time to do a really big purge again.” My kids were older than the initial purge. There is definitely a detox period. If your kids are used to having a lot of stuff, used to a lot of a technology, used to having a lot of toys that light up and make noise and don’t leave much to the imagination, there is definitely going to be a detox period.
That is normal. It is OK. There are things you can do to be prepared for that. One of the things is to pick a time that will work for you. Find a time in your schedule where nothing else big is going on. Don’t pick a time when you are moving, or something sad is happening in your family, or something really big is going on. Or maybe you disagree and timing this around a move would work really well for you. You do you.
But I would imagine that timing it around a time in your life that is normal and calm is a good idea. Make sure it is a time where you can handle it as best as possible. If your kids are at home all day, prepare yourself for it. Come up with an activity. Maybe you can plan a hike or a beach day. Maybe you can take a day off from housework and sit outside with your kids and watch them play. Maybe ease them into it. Don’t shut everything down and expect them to figure it out.
You have gone this far teaching your kids that their play is laid out for them by the toys that they have, the options they have, and the technology they have. You have taught them that this is how play looks. You can’t just shut everything off and expect their natural play instincts to kick in. It’s not going to work that way.
However, kids are naturals at play. It will happen. It is just that they haven’t been in that place at all, and they have been trained to be entertained. They have that subconscious entitlement, for lack of a better word. They need their imaginations to be re-born. They are just out of commission. That makes sense. You just need to have some grace and patience.
For me, I do a tech detox. I did this several times when we were re-purging and getting back to our roots. Whenever there is a season of heavier technology or heavier toys and we hadn’t purged in a while, I would do a detox. I would say, “We are going to do no technology this week. Let’s go purge the toys.” We would make the decisions together and get rid of stuff.
My kids have each other; it’s different if you have an only child. They would play and whine, bicker, and argue a little bit more than usual. I could make a choice. I could remove them from the area and have a change of scenery, maybe go on a hike. Or I could just let them push through it and gently correct them.
You have to understand there is going to be a detox period. My best piece of advice is to plan some kind of outdoor activity for the first day. You don’t need to make your kids feel entitled to entertainment by taking them somewhere amazing like Disneyland, but just go do something out of the norm. Go for a hike. Go for a walk. Go to the beach. Go to the forest. Have a picnic. Break up the usual routine. This helps kids see that this can be fun. It also helps to break up the day and distract a bit from their being bored.
There are plenty of articles on boredom and how good it is for kids to experience boredom. This is where ideas and imagination happen. The word “bored” really gets a bad rap. It’s kids experiencing boredom for the first time. Because they are not used to it, they are whiny, cranky, and hard to be around. You have to understand that this is what detox means. This is what it looks like. You can do some things to help break it up, but it is going to be a bit harder than usual for about a week or so.
We have done a lot of different things. We have done no TV in the house at all. We actually meant to do it for about a week, and it turned into six months. It was amazing. Not even for Brian and I. No TV at all. It was one of the best times in our family. It was so fun. So many good things happened and came from it, although it was hard at first.
We have done no toys at all. When we were living in the camper, there was a big chunk of time, months, where we had no toys at all, because we didn’t have room for a lot of them. The box we had set aside to bring a few toys into the camper, got left back in storage. We didn’t get our toys back until we came back to California. It was great. The kids figured it out. Their imaginations got even stronger.
We have done no TV at all and no toys at all. Our normal is monitored TV time. I don’t really have a specific amount of time per day. There are definitely days where it is a little bit more than usual, but it is typically really little. There are a lot of days where there is no TV or technology at all. That is very normal at our house to have a no-tech day.
We don’t wake up and decide we need to have a no-tech day. It just doesn’t happen that day. Technology is definitely not a part of every day for us. The toys are definitely at a minimum. It has been at a maintained place for a solid three years. One bin of toys. All the “free” toys for the boys and Legos being separate from that. Bella has her own box of personal toys that she doesn’t want the boys to play with. That’s it. I don’t count art supplies as toys, in case you were wondering.
That’s where we have landed. We have done it all. The more you limit, the more you remove the excess, it is so much better. Your kids play so much better. Your days are smoother.
Before I wrap it up, I want to make a quick note about people who have one child. I have done some studies of my own on students in Your Uncluttered Home, who have an only child. One woman in particular, I actually gifted her the course, if she would give me a good synopsis of how it goes with her having an only child. At that time, her daughter was an only child; she is not anymore.
She did all that I am talking about. She limited things. She went through her entire home and did Your Uncluttered Home. She had the same results as me, as did the other five women that I did this with. Hers was really detailed and I appreciated what she did so I am going to focus on her.
She had the same results that I did. Her daughter played for hours alone instead of just a couple of minutes. She didn’t need her mom to play with her so much. She grew her imagination. She became very creative. She took up coloring and art. She started to really thrive.
Don’t give me the excuse that it only works for me because I have four kids and they are really close in age. This can happen for anyone. With kids that are far apart. With only children. With families of 12 kids. Whatever your situation is I would encourage you to attempt to remove the excess when it comes to your kids’ toys. See how it goes for you. Give it a month. Give it some time. Let it sit. Let it breathe. I promise you will see some positive changes.
I will link to my story. I will link to my favorite studies that have been done. I will link to my post about how to declutter the kids’ toys. I also have put together a free download for you. It is my top resources for decluttering the kids’ toys. If you want that, go to the show notes. It is totally free. It will help you with the “how to” of all of this. I will also link to the articles on boredom and how good it is for your kids to be bored every now and then.
If this is really, really speaking to you, and you are game and you so want this, I would really encourage you to dive into my blog archives. Read my old posts. Consider enrolling in Your Uncluttered Home. There is nothing else like it. It is all in one place. It is all right there. It is so full, helpful, and valuable. I promise you will love it. It will change your entire life.
Take action in some way. Whether you get the course, whether you don’t get the course, whether you do it yourself, whatever. I just want you to experience the life changing, amazing effects of decluttering and simplifying your kids’ toys. It will change your whole family dynamic for the better.
The show notes can be found at alliecassa.com/shownotes/27. Get your free download. Look at those studies and check all that out. I encourage you to take action; don’t just listen to this and do nothing. That is my worst fear for you guys.
Take action. Be a doer. Make a positive change for your family.
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, head to alliecasazza.com for free downloads, courses, classes and to learn more about what the next step might look like for you. I am always rooting for you. See ya next time!