Why I Took All My Children’s Toys Away….

Except for these ones.

Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?  Still, I read this post a while back and was like, “Heck yeah!”  I had entertained such insubordinate notions before.  Only quietly in my own little brain.  All it took was someone else saying them out loud for me to throw caution to the wind.  I no longer cared if anyone else thought it was crazy or unfair.  We were doing it.  The only toys I saved were a few for the two year old and one year old.  Which are all happily contained in this bedroom.  Well, except for the dollhouse in the basement.


Even that was rather superfluous since they’d still rather play with their shoes.  And my make-up.



All my girl toys have always been vintage and eclectic.  We have never done Barbie, Polly Pocket, or Little Pet Shop.  And oddly enough, the girls have never complained.  I’m not sure why.  I would like to think it is because they are happy as they are.  And secondly, perhaps because they don’t know the difference.  There is nothing like living under the radar for keeping covetousness at bay.  If you never see it, how can you want it?  The boys had the worst time making Christmas lists this year because they couldn’t think of more than four things to put on them.  And when they did, their Grammy promptly informed them she couldn’t buy them knives, swords, sling-shots, and bows and arrows with a clean conscience.  Life is rough.


And on top of that, their mother goes and puts their Legos in the attic.  Someone had to do it.  I’m fond of saying that a boy could play Legos until the day his wife takes them away.  And that’s the trouble.  Legos monopolize almost all of a boy’s desire to create and build.  They are exclusive and insinuating.  My current agenda is to air Legos briefly over the winter and in the summer encourage the boys to build things outside.


Which brings me to the sum of the matter.  Toys are for babies.  In today’s world, with marketing and the desire for the next new thing, there is no longer an expiration date on your childhood.  You can just keep buying playthings and there will never be an end to it.  The only question that remains is, did you ever learn how to make anything?  When I take away a toy I try to replace it with an interest or a hobby.  When I sold all of Jael’s toys I took the money and bought her her own sewing desk and Ginger scissors.  I also made the move to sell her play kitchen and am saving the money to buy her a hoosier for in the pantry.  Where she can keep all her real bake things.  The boys, in turn, were redirected towards their work-bench and hideous backyard.  Lately Gideon has shown an interest in leather tooling.  And they both love duct tape, knives, illustrating, excavating, hiking, and reading.  And neither have a single toy to their name.  But if they had their way, they would still be in the basement stacking little plastic blocks.  In which case, I’m sure Satan couldn’t be happier.  Unless, of course, the boys spent all their free time playing “Grand Theft Auto.”  But, of course, you gotta take what you can get.  And around here, it’s not much.


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.  The more, the merrier.  The larger our family gets, the happier it is.  Each “blessing” proves to be just that.  We don’t feel a need to fall back on second best.  It’s not even in the running.  When I took away their toys, they didn’t notice, much less complain.  They just kept on having at it.  I never yelled at them and said, “I’m going to throw all this crap away until you heathens can learn to clean it up!!!”  It wasn’t a punishment, just a strategy.  Seven people in a 1500 square foot home forces you to think outside the box.  Some things had to give.  And when they did, I realized we didn’t need them.  But what happened next, I didn’t even see coming.


We like it better this way.

8 thoughts on “Why I Took All My Children’s Toys Away….

  1. Love this! All my sisters and I were given hope chests at young ages and presents usually followed that theme. There was one year that each of us – ages 13 down to 2 – were given a set of ladles for Christmas. And we were thrilled. 🙂

  2. Hmm, I would also condone something like this. That at a certain level toys can be removed and replaced with their “real” counterparts. And with a large family removal of distractions would be beneficial. I see one small problem in this escapade. And that would be the beneficial liking of the people you live with. Siblings or parents or others. This wouldn’t work for a group of family members who really don’t like each other. Like say my part of the family. We can barely stand ten seconds with each other. An that was even when we where young. I cant count how many times we tried to kill each other over the years.

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  5. I’m doing this tomorrow – my husband and a couple of friends I’ve told think I’m a bit loopy and the children aren’t too thrilled either – but none of them tidy anything and the children don’t actually p,ay with most of it – just liberally distribute it everywhere – wish me luck

    • I hope it works out for you. I can’t imagine going back. What I found helps with the idea of getting rid of “everything” is keeping a few tubs of toys to pull out on special occasions. We kept all of our wooden train tracks, our Playmobil, Schleich plastic animals, and Legos in bins in the attic. So we can pull out just one at a time. I feel these toys are kind of timeless. Grandparents can still buy for the kids, the children can enjoy the toys for a season, then toys can retire for the school year, and they will still be in good enough shape for future children to enjoy. So they are not throw away, random toys, but more of an investment. The other thing is that we keep our children busy enough that they don’t need filler to begin with. But if it’s a lazy Saturday, the house is clean, and we don’t feel like making an excursion (we feel like napping), then we will haul down a bin of toys from the attic. And there is much rejoicing. “Old toys! Yay!” 😉

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