That’s right, I said it! My family has agreed to go a full year WITHOUT toys. We are not going to go totally crazy and get rid of all our existing toys, but for a full year we will not add ANY toys to our home. This means birthdays, Easter, Christmas, and school carnivals!!
Why would we put our kids through such a year?? I will answer with a follow up question, “have you seen our basement!??” We really do have so many wonderful toys. And the kids do actually play with them now and then. But it honestly feels like we are picking up the toys from the floor more than they get played with. Looking back at the toys my kids got for Christmas, just 2 months ago, I can think of one toy that still gets played with. The rest of the toys are either broken, like the drone for my 2 year old (imagine that), or out of batteries. I have decided that more often that not, the fun with toys comes with the excitement of opening the toy and the first 5 minutes following.
I was pleasantly surprised with how this conversation went down during dinner. The kids were enjoying this amazing homemade chicken Alfredo made from the instapot, which I will post about later; when my husband announced that we had something big we wanted to propose. We built it up by saying that the kids were going to want to complain at first, but that no one was allowed to say a word until after this idea had been explained fully and that we would take questions and comments at the end. When they all agreed not to whine or complain until they had fully heard us out, we dove right in.
We explained that we would like for them to go a full year (now until Spring Break 2019) without adding any toys to our collection. They were a bit concerned about Christmas and how would Santa know not to bring toys, but we assured them that we could write to him and explain. My 9 year-old daughter said, “good, I was just going to ask Santa to surprise me this year anyway!” All of the kids were surprisingly on board with this idea. We gave them some ideas for things they can still ask for on birthdays and Christmas, like clothes and experiences. My son decided that if a friend comes over after giving him a toy for his birthday only to find it gone, that he could just say that he lost it. Rather than encouraging this white lie, I told him that along with birthday invitations we will include an explanation that our family is not adding toys this year. Friends can do other gift ideas, or better yet, just skip the gift altogether!
By the end of the conversation and after these concerns were addressed, everyone was on board. In fact, my two oldest said that they thought this was a great idea and they think we should do this forever! We decided that if we can truly go a whole year without any new toys that for Spring Break next year we will plan a big family trip. I feel like this gives us all a reward and motivation to keep our focus.
I do feel like the hardest part for them will be the little carnivals and dumb toys that they get at random events. Think of all the little 50 cent toys that find their way under the seats in your car and at the bottom of every toy box. And think of how excited those kids are to get those types of toys in the moment. School parties, Christmas parties, summer fairs and carnivals all seem to send home an unnecessary treasure of some sort. These little treasures will go straight to the trash or thrift store rather than into our home. The elementary school in our home town puts on an amazing fundraiser called, A Night at Hogwarts, every year and they go all out! My kids come home with a new wand, new creature (stuffed animal), and new pranks from the Joke Shop every year. I believe this may be their biggest trial.
Here is a list of ideas we gave them of things that are allowed to ask for as gifts or buy with their own money:
- New clothes
- Glasses (because my 5 year old just bought glasses without a prescription from Walmart)
- Batteries for their existing toys
- Movie tickets
- Bowling gift cards
- Restaurant gift cards (Hello McDonald’s!)
- Jump House gift cards
- A day at the zoo, aquarium, or museum
- Tickets to a sporting event (college or professional)
- Tickets to a play at a fancy theater
- Disposable art products (paints, oil pastels, paper, crayons, markers, etc.)
- Disposable manipulatives (play-dough, kinetic sand, etc.), but only if ours needs thrown away
- Posters for their rooms
- Favorite candy, cereal, or food that we don’t normally buy
- A day kayaking on the pond
- Ice skating
- Rent 4-wheelers, snowmobiles or jet-ski’s, for a day
- Flower pot or spot in the garden and something to grow all summer that is their own
- Special blanket (my sister makes personalized blankets that are amazing!)
- Bags (drawstring bags, duffel-bags, purses, etc.) these are easy and cheap to personalize too.
- Water bottle
- Music (CD or downloads)
- Electric toothbrush (my kids go crazy for these…)
There. 30 things to give the kids OTHER than toys for the next year. Just so we were all on the same page, we came up with a list of things that we consider “toys” that we are not allowed to add:
Cannot be added to our house:
- the obvious toys (cars, figurines, remote control things, dolls, etc.)
- Lego’s (this one might be tough)
- new things to ride (bikes, scooters, skateboards) UNLESS the one they currently have breaks
- Wii games
- board games
- sporting equipment (again, UNLESS something breaks and we don’t have a back up)
- water toys (squirt guns, tubes, noodles, etc.)
After writing it down, we can see that the list of things we will NOT get is much shorter than the list of possibilities. Throughout the year, we are also going to work on getting rid of some of our current toys.
I’m excited to see how this goes. I hope we will focus more on what memories we can make than what we can get. The kids were nice and happy about this idea. I’ll keep you updated on how long that lasts 🙂