Studies and experience have shown that having less options when it comes to toys, etc. actually makes kids happier. So have more fun with less!
To learn more about this concept, check out the following articles:
- Study Underscores Why Fewer Toys Is the Better Option
- Why having more toys actually makes your kid bored
- 6 Tips for Taking Back Your Playroom
In a nutshell, having too many items can distract and overwhelm kids, so they actually spend less time playing. You can counteract this effect by giving them less options. But that can be easier said than done! The “6 Tips” article above gives you some suggestions on ways to minimize clutter to benefit your kids (and your sanity!). Toy rotations, getting rid of things, and avoiding new purchases are just a few ways to cut back. Here are more ways to have fun with less stuff.
FOCUS ON EXPERIENCES
Instead of relying on stuff to entertain your child, look for ways to encourage more doing. Some suggestions, which I’ve discussed in previous posts, include enjoying nature, playing pretend, and creating. You can also explore the Events calendar and tabs on the website for more ideas. Interacting with others, especially parents and other loved ones, can make positive memories that will last much longer than toys. You can also take the experiences concept one step further, and encourage kids to do things with other people in mind – through volunteering, helping others, and looking for ways to make other people happy.
Get your child involved in coming up with experience ideas. Ask them what they would enjoy doing, if they didn’t have any toys to play with or screens to stare at. Encourage them to think back to happy times. Which memories stand out? Can you incorporate those ideas into new activities and experiences? Have each family member come up with things they would love to try, then take turns implementing them. You may be surprised at what is really meaningful for your child!
A cluttered space can lead to a cluttered mind – which can inhibit creativity. Instead, clear a space and set out a few things that can encourage creativity. Last time I mentioned creating supply trays. This not only keeps a space neat and tidy but can also help spark ideas, as everything your child needs is at hand. Take things one step further by creating with your child. Suggest a theme or style, and see how each of you interprets the idea. Challenge each other to step out of your comfort zone with something you haven’t tried before, or to make something extremely simple or overly complicated. This can be with arts and crafts supplies, building bricks, or even recipe ingredients! Some ideas:
- Have a “mystery bag” with supplies that must be used in your creation.
- Write random words on scraps of paper, then draw one to see the topic.
- Grab a handful of random items and see what you can create with them.
- Set a timer and see what you can make in the time limit – the shorter the time, the wackier the creations! (But, also, the more creative and interesting)
Make the items you have more exciting, and encourage kids to look at them in a different way, by creating “events.” Maybe you implement a weekly game night to use those board games that have been collecting dust. Or challenge your children to create a “party” using as few items as possible – with games, decorations, and projects. Make a backwards day, where everything has to be used in a different way than it was originally intended. (Maybe that dinosaur figure is now a princess? Or that doll’s chair is now a hat?)
Doing more with less is not a new concept, but you can take it to new heights with a little imagination and encouragement. How much fun can you have using as few items as possible?