Something we’ve really been working on since toys became a major feature in our world is reducing how many toys there are in our world. Sounds counterproductive I know but stay with me.
Throughout 2020 we spent a lot of time reorganising, decluttering, and minimalising the things we own and we have been so successful with that, and toys have been one of those things. We have been creating a calm and soothing play environment using minimal toys and using toy rotation to keep play fresh, engaging, and interactive.
Why minimal toys?
Did you know fewer toys creates a better depth of play? Literally having less choice and only have a small number of toys enables children to use their imaginations more, become more creative in their play and it can even be attributed to deeper cognitive development too (“The influence of the number of toys on the environment on toddlers’ play” published in the journal of Infant Behaviour and Development). The higher the number of toys, the more mess that creates around them can stifle their play and their imaginations. I have seen it myself before we opted to follow this route. With more toys my daughter would either play sporadically or just bypass it entirely at times. As soon as we significantly reduced the number of toys around her she began to play more deeply and creatively. We rotate our toys monthly at the moment (more about toy rotation in a minute) and we notice an incredible difference between the beginning of our rotation cycle (when everything is fresh and new) and at the end (when things are starting to get a little boring).
So, does it work?
Aside from the science to back it up we have really noticed a difference in the way our daughter plays, creates, imagines, and interacts with her toys since making the change. Less definitely is more and is a great motivator for her to be more creative with her own toys too. When toys are messy and overbearing creativity is stifled and play is much more limited.
I know what you’re thinking “But we already own too much” but let me share this with you – it doesn’t all need to be out and available at the same time. We’ve already accumulated a lot of things through preloved toys being handed down and gifts, and I also understand the feeling that you want all of it to be used. So what if I told you this: it’s more likely that all your toys will be used far more intently and more often if you offered them in smaller batches. What we have seen is when all the toys are available things don’t always get played with in any depth. When offered with a smaller batch of toys then they seem to be played with and used at a much deeper level.
We separate our toys into 3 rotations; 1 in use and 2 stored, and we rotate monthly to keep the toys fresh. We still keep some key pieces available throughout, such as her kitchen, but at the end of the rotation we swap everything round. She is always delighted with her toys and it’s always so fun to see her rediscover them, as if they are brand new, after a short time away.
I plan to jump into how I organise her toys and what our minimal toys and rotations look like, so stay tuned here and over on my Instagram page.