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Kids come with clutter.
It’s just part of living with people whose needs are constantly changing and evolving.
One thing they always seem to have enough of is toys.
I love that my kids have toys and like to play with them. I 100% believe in the value of play! For that reason, I try to control the quality of the toys my kids have. So they get the best toys to encourage developmental play and aren’t prevented from that goal by too much clutter.
The problem is, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to control what comes into your home.
It’s really not my responsibility or right to control the type of gifts they are given.
It IS my right and responsibility to control the environment of my home and the attitudes toward material things that I teach my kids.
We have one simple rule that helps prevent a lot of problems with low-quality playthings and junk that accumulates in their rooms.
The Time-Limit Toy Rule
The rule is simple:
Certain toys have a time limit. They can be enjoyed and played with for a few days and then must be discarded or donated.
These toys don’t get a home in our house. They sit on the kids’ dressers or on the floor when not in use.
After 3-5 days, or more likely, whenever the toys have been sitting neglected on the floor long enough for me to notice them, I say “hey, I think this toy has reached it’s time limit, don’t you?”. Then the toy goes to the trash (Shock and dismay! We throw things away.) or to the pile of things we are gathering for a garage sale. No fuss or argument from the kids.
Does this really work?
Think of it like a balloon.
Your kid gets a balloon, and she loves it! She got just the color she wanted and her little heart is bursting with love for this balloon. You know this thing is not going to become a permanent fixture in your home. Balloons just aren’t meant to last.
How would your sweet babe react if you pulled out the scissors and ended its brief little life now? She would be crushed, right? There’s a reason we have the phrase “burst your balloon” to mean crushing someone’s spirits.
But, hold off a few days and watch. The balloon will begin to droop. It’s bright appearance will fade. (Why do balloons look dusty after only a day?) After 3-5 days, it’s a wad of latex rolling off-kilter around her room and she will be glad to see it go. It’s lost it’s luster–literally and figuratively.
Time Limit Toys are like that.
The novelty wears off. They just aren’t that cool anymore. And kids are ok with getting rid of them.
What things are “Time Limit Toys”?
Of course, not all the toys your child has are Time Limit Toys. Your house should be filled with quality “evergreen” toys that grow with your child.
Time Limit Toys are:
- Anything that comes from a fast food restaurant. (Yeah, we eat fast food. Don’t judge me.)
- Birthday Party Goodie Bag Swag
- Trinkets from Carnivals and Piñatas
- Small gifts from well-meaning people
The Real Beauty of the Time Limit Rule
At first, I thought the Time Limit Rule was just a great way for me to control the amount of clutter in my home. As it turns out, it’s been beneficial for teaching my kids so much more.
Children come to realize that the value is in the experience. In this case, the experience of giving and receiving.
They become less materialistic. As they grow up, we can talk about how certain things just end up in the trash anyway and how sad that is. They pause and consider whether it’s worth getting in the first place.
They become aware of their feelings toward items and that it’s ok for our feelings to fade. What we once loved no longer “sparks joy” so we can discard it. It has done its job.
This gets them used to the KonMari technique of discarding things after they have fulfilled their purpose for us and makes something like an Epic Toy Cleanout so much more feasible for their little brains.
Isn’t it amazing that one little rule can begin to instill such great concepts and skills in your kids?
Learning that the value is in the experience is a gift to your kids that will lead to a lifetime of awesome memories! I would love to hear what your experience with discarding toys has been. Do your children readily accept the discarding process or do they buck and whine and throw a fit? Let me know in the comments!
If you’re drowning in clutter and ready to get rid of more than just Time Limit Toys, you should join me in the Clutter to Cash Challenge!
Join the 30 Day Clutter to Cash Challenge!
If you think this is a neat rule, share this article with your friends on Facebook or Pinterest!
Butterscotch and roses,