As a city dweller with a small child, I've become inspired by the minimalist movement and wanted to see how our life would change if we had fewer toys. After all, I joined the team here at Green Piñata, so wanted to get the full experience.
Research shows that children learn better and more creatively with fewer toys (and other guidance), so when I found myself in a cluttered one bedroom apartment with toys that my daughter rarely played with, I wondered if there was something to having fewer toys.
Prior to our first month with Green Piñata, we spent our days bouncing from activity to activity, 90% of which were always out of the home. I don’t think either of us enjoyed being home for more than an hour a day, because living in a small space with access to all sorts of libraries, parks, museums, and public places made being outside the home easier than being inside.
But, I missed playing with my daughter. When we’re out and about with our friends, both of us have the best time, but there is so much going on and I feel like I don’t get quality one-on-one time. This time together is critical to her learning and development, and I don’t want to set the precedent that we must always be busy to be entertained.
I love the idea of living a more minimalist life, so I devoted the past month to having only five toys in the house – my Green Piñata shipment – to see if my daughter would enjoy playtime more. The results have been amazing.
4 Perks of Having Fewer Toys
She got the cleaning bug. When our home was riddled with baskets and buckets of toys, large and small, noisy and quiet, cleaning up seemed so daunting and more often than not, a waste of our time. Now, my daughter and I clean up after even a few short minutes of playing because we have so few to deal with. She hustles around gathering the toys while I hold out their respective cloth bags to toss into the cupboard. And now that we have so few toys, we use our three bins for stuffed animals, books and green piñata toys.
She got creative. Prior to our first shipment, we had quite a few electronic toys that seemed fun at the time because my daughter would sing along or dance to the music, but it rarely encouraged any kind of imaginative play. Now, with our hape toy car collection, Delaney scurries along the floor and we play her sign language version of red light, green light and she even learned to balance the cars on the flaps of our shipment box, pushing them to their doom on the ground with a big “crash” noise. Even though she’s so young, I was shocked to find how much of an imagination she had once she had more time to spend with these open-ended toys.
She got busy — with one thing! This was the biggest shock. I really thought my daughter would become even morebored from fewer toys, and I do have to say that in the beginning, she didn’t really know how to play. She would get excited about something, then look for the next thing. But once she realized these four toys were it, I saw her invest in them. Instead of a boring snail that didn’t talk back to her, the pull toy became her greatest puzzle as she spent upwards of 15 minutes putting the shapes into their respective spots, placing the shape holder on the snail’s back, and proceeding to sprint down the hallway with it before doing it all over again.
She brought me into her world. Playing with fewer toys means fewer distractions – even for me as the parent! I often found that when we played with a pile of toys, I’d be playing with something else or keeping new items “on deck” as a way to keep my child entertained…because once she was bored of something, it often meant we needed to leave. Now that she engages more with her toys, she wants me to enjoy them more too – she shares with me, asks me to have a turn with the drum, mimics my expressions of excitement as we play, and even started building her vocabulary by pointing to items when I named them or attempting to make the same sounds.
After one month of fewer toys, I can wholeheartedly say that I think there's something to be said for simplifying the madness of too many toys. With a toddler in our home, every day invites new lessons and getting to see our daughter learn and really enjoy our playtime together has been one of the greatest blessings of parenthood – and the greatest result of this little experiment.
Now that we’re a few months into our membership, we’ve definitely added some toys of our own into the mix as well as some new books, but the way we play has changed dramatically since the start.
Want to give it a shot? Try a month of Green Piñata and let us know how it goes!