Why I Took My Kids’ Toys Away (& Why They Won’t Get Them Back)

Do you ever get so fed up with all the toys lying around? This is the inside story of my drastic decision to take my kids’ toys away.

As some of you already know, I’ve been on a mission this year to simplify my family’s life and rid ourselves of excess. Over the course of the past nine months I have probably given away about 75 percent of my girls’ toys, keeping only the items that I felt encouraged their imagination and that they actually played with. I thought I was doing pretty good.

Even so, there were warning signs that my kids still had too much stuff. In June, we took a field trip to Reptile World in Orlando. Afterwards we decided it would be fun to take the girls to dinner at a dinosaur-themed restaurant called T-Rex in Downtown Disney. While we were waiting to be seated my oldest daughter Maggie spotted the Build-a-Dino Workshop in the gift shop and although we immediately said “no way,” from that moment on she could think of nothing else.

All through our delicious dinner, surrounded by dramatic (fake) meteor showers and animatronic dinosaurs, she fixated on the one thing she couldn’t have rather than the cool sights we were actually experiencing.

On the three hour drive home, Husband and I–seriously concerned by our daughter’s inability to enjoy the moment–made a point to talk about all the neat stuff we had seen, what our favorite reptiles were, and how funny Trouble had been holding the snake. By the time we made it home the Build-a-Dino had been forgotten. At least by her. But we were worried.

The Breaking Point

In the weeks that followed, Chuck and I talked a lot about how we were going to handle this lack of contentment we were noticing. Then one morning near the end of July, after telling my kids to clean their room for the umpteenth time, I made the somewhat impulsive–albeit pre-warned–decision to take away ALL their stuff.

Just 2 days earlier I had spent half the day cleaning their room & re-organizing their toys and closet, which is something I do fairly regularly. I wasn’t asking them to clean some giant out-of-control mess, just to pick up a few items off the floor and put them away in the very clearly labeled baskets. Every time I came back to check on them, they had not only NOT picked up, they had made an even bigger mess.

Why I Took My Kids’ Toys Away (& Why They Won’t Get Them Back)

I finally gave up and took it all away. I wasn’t angry, just fed up. I calmly began packing up not just a toy or two, but every single thing. All their dress-up clothes, baby dolls, Polly Pockets, & stuffed animals, all their Barbies, building blocks, and toy trains, right down to the the furniture from their dollhouse and play food from their kitchen. I even took the pretty Pottery Barn Kids comforter from their bed. The girls watched me in stunned silence for a few minutes and then, when the shock wore off, they  helped. And just like that, their room was clear.

The Paradigm Shift

I had no idea what a dramatic difference this one semi-impulsive decision would make in all our lives. I first started noticing a real change about 4 weeks later when we took a family trip to Key West.

In contrast to our last outing and for the first time ever, neither girl asked us to buy a single thing the entire weekend. Not a toy, not a cheesy souvenir, not a light-up necklace from a passing street vendor. Nothing. We passed hundreds of shops and they loved looking in the window, but they were content just to be. What was most amazing to me was that we didn’t talk to them about it ahead of time. Not once did we have to tell them not to ask, or explain that being together was what mattered.

Had I not experienced it with my own eyes, I would’ve never believed that an addiction to stuff could be broken that quickly. The truth is that when I took all their stuff away, I was terrified at what would happen. I worried that I was scarring them for life, depriving them of some essential developmental need, taking away their ability to self-entertain.

So…what happened??

In reality, the opposite has happened. Instead of being bored, they seem to have no shortage of things to do. Their attention span is much longer and they are able to mindfully focus on their task at hand. They color or read for hours at a time and happily spend the entire afternoon playing hide & seek or pretend.

They are far more content, able to appreciate the blessings that they do have, and able to truly enjoy the moment they are in without always having to move on to the next thing. They are more creative and patient, more willing to share, far more empathetic towards the plight of others, and, with little to fight over, they hardly fight at all.

When I do take down a toy for them to play with (no, I didn’t throw everything away), such as their Lego blocks or dress-up clothes or or their kitchen food & dishes, that one thing will entertain them for the entire day. (The rest has more or less been forgotten and will soon make it’s way from the attic to the Goodwill pile.)

What I love even more is that they are able to recognize excess on their own. Aside from a favorite stuffed animal and the comforter on their bed, (which they both earned back), neither of them actually want their toys back on a permanent basis. They like not being overwhelmed by stuff and not having to spend so much time cleaning their room. In fact, later that very same day, as we drove to gymnastics class, Maggie said it’s okay that we don’t have any more toys Mommy. We can just read and use our imaginations. And now we won’t have to clean up every day.  She understood before I did that more stuff doesn’t make us happier.

No turning back

When I first became a mom I was so happy to have a chance to start over, to undo through my children all the wrong that was done to me, to give them everything I felt I had missed out on. I wanted our lives to be perfect, and my vision of perfection included a perfectly decorated bedroom filled with beautiful things, a life where they would want for nothing.

I equated giving them stuff with making them happy, a message that our consumer driven culture hammers into our psyches from the time we our born. Oh, what a lie!

I started this blog because I am a shopaholic, and there are so many times where I buy things when I am bored or unhappy, just to fill the void. My husband laughs at me (and sometimes  throws up his hand in frustration) because although I talk a good game about wanting to downsize and get rid of stuff, in reality there are still many times where I just can’t help myself from buying more.

I justify it, telling myself it was on sale or a really good deal, or something we really needed, or that I deserve it because I work so hard. In reality it is just another thing I am trying to buy to solve a problem that runs much deeper.

Stuff isn’t evil in and of itself, but in a world where we are constantly told that what we have isn’t quite good enough, the love of things can so very easily consume us. It is the pursuit of it all–more toys, cuter clothes, a prettier house, a nicer car, a bigger computer, a fancier phone–that makes us forget all the things that actually matter.

It wasn’t until after observing first hand the real and immediate changes in my children after taking their toys away that I truly began to understand. And now instead of me teaching them, they have taught me the lesson I wish I would’ve have learned a long time ago.

For our family, there’s no turning back.

Do you ever get so fed up with all the toys lying around that you threaten to take them all away? You are not alone! How my drastic decision changed my family forever--a MUST read for any parent who has struggled with too much stuff!

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  1. Thank you for this post! I told my husband just this morning that our 11 year old needs to go on a technology break! He has his tablet or a video game everywhere he goes and has a hard time socializing with other kids! He excels in academics and baseball, but other than that, he is glued to some form of technology for the majority of the day. If I restrict his access, he becomes moody and irritable. This is excatly what I needed to hear! Thanks, Ruth!

    1. Faith I hear you on the technology! We decided to restrict the girls’ computer/television/Kindle time when we started homeschooling because it was becoming such an obsession for both of them. Now they are allowed a MAX of 30 minutes of screen time a day, but during the week we try to cut it out completely unless it is something school-related. It has definitely made a big difference too! 🙂 Good luck!

      1. YES!! We have this exact problem! All of the kids have handheld devices and a seemingly non-stop itch to be on the computer! While my husband and I were on a trip we put up ALL of the electronics and limited computer time to school-related activities during the week and only 30 minutes a day on the weekend to make it easier for my parents while they were watching the kids for us. We have been home for a month now and have yet to change any rules….LOVE IT! And the kids, surprisingly, are not that bummed! If they know they can’t have it, there is no stress over wondering when/if they can use it. Out of sight, out of mind!

      2. Just cuirous, how come the Kindle is in that list? They’re a very good way to have plenty to read both at home and on the go while being easy to transport and hard to mess up. Unless you have a Kindle that’s not ‘read only’, then I could see the reasoning.

        1. This seems like an excellent point. If the “clutter” of books is too much then I think a kindle or a Nook is a perfect solution. Children NEED creative outlets and reading is extremely beneficial.I find it interesting that this question didn’t get a response.

          1. A kindle is still “screen time”. Plus Kindle is not just books. It also has books that are read to you almost like movies. You can check email. Browse the web. etc If you want to limit screen time and still give your kids something to read, I suggest going to the local library. The books are free and when you are done you just give them back. If they don’t like them than they don’t have to finish it and take out another one.

          2. It depends on what kind of kindle you get. My paperwhite can’t open email, read to me, or surf the web. It does advertise books but I think I can pay ten or fifteen bucks to get rid of that feature. If you get a kindle tablet, then yes it is screen time.

          3. I read recently that studies show people have lower retention rates of information when they have read a book on an e-reader/Kindle than if they read the same material from a paper book.

          4. Why would anyone be mad about her decision to purge unless THEY have a guilty conscience and know they should follow this same advice BUT don’t have the power to do it. It’s so funny how the culture is set up- if you go against the mainstream agenda, your demonized, the people doing the demonizing first of all, don’t even relize there’s an agenda to begin with, there is a war over our minds and best believe there are many powerful people who will do whatever they need to do to make sure trends like this one in this blog post don’t happen in large scale. Because if it did, and everyone stopped buying toys, stopped COVETING, if that happened nationality, those big powerful people would be loosing LOTS of money! And that is where the negativity comes in. The masses are blinded just like they want them. I hope this post wakes some sleepers up

      3. hi, i might be a kid but listen to me, kids will be kids, no matter what, if you cut down their screen time they just sit there and be bored, i sat in my room for 10 and a half hours literally!!!! and school is taking over our lifes, i now have school for 7 and a half hours (starting at 8:30 and ending at 4, and dont forget the homework, which usually takes me a hour and a half (cause i am dyslexic) and then i have to do mathematics for 45 minutes then i have dinner at 6:30 giving me half an hour sometimes less to tidy my room, and dinner ends around 7 giving me 30 minutes to play and then go to bed, (this took me half an hour to write 🙁

        1. Sweetheart, you’re exactly right. School does take an enormous amount of time in any child’s day. It’s a full time job for sure. I remember hating school so much that I would give myself tummy aches every day thinking about going. There wasn’t anything really wrong with it, I just wanted to be doing ANYTHING else. Just remember that even though it seems like your whole life now, it’s only temporary. You will finish and look back thinking “wow, that went by so fast!” Be sure to make the most of it and keep working hard so you can have a bright future. If your parents are limiting your screen time, why not try something new? Learn to paint or come up with a new game. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was draw comic books. The world has endless opportunities, you will surely find your passion. Stay positive 🙂

    2. Definitely an interesting post. I go through my 2.5 year old sons periodically and pull out any he doesn’t play with to take to the thrift store. We’ve started the Christmas tradition where Santa may bring a few items, but we also leave some for him to “take to other children”. I try to limit the number of toys he has, but not pull them away completely.

      Faith – I have a coworker who makes days that start with T – “technology free”. The whole family does not use anything technology in the home – tv, tablet, computer, even the phone on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. At school and work are an obvious exception, but it’s gone over very well for them. It was hard at first, but the kids are finding new forms of entertainment, and the parents are even satisfied with the challenge for themselves! Just thought I’d share.

      1. I love that idea! Sadly, our 5 year old gets completely obsessed with our iPad or my husband’s old phone – to play games on. And I’m guilty as well, I know I’m on my phone more than I should be! Probably not setting a good example for my kids… I would love to take away their toys bc I think that would make a huge difference in our family! It will have to wait until after summer since I watch a couple kids over break. Definitely being done sometime!
        Thanks for great ideas!

      2. Similar to the “technology free” T-days, starting a couple years ago we developed a family habit of “screen-free Sundays”. Every Sunday, all day, nothing with a screen for any family member (TV, computer, iPad, texting, gaming, if we go to a restaurant we ask to sit far from any TV’s, etc. – then we’ll joke about trying not to look at the screen door either). This has been a wonderful thing for us. Maybe we’ll add the T days to it as well.

        My wife just read this article a few days ago and sent me a link. We must have been ready because it didn’t take long to say “let’s do it.” Actually, I think that really was the extent of our conversation: “Let’s do it.” “Okay.” We’ve both known for a while that our basement has been way too overloaded with toys.

        The third load of boxes of toys is on it’s way to a local charity today. While unloading the first one, the guy asked if we were cleaning out a day care center. 😉 We kept a few things that don’t use batteries and encourage creativity (a wooden train set, Lincoln logs, etc.). Some things were harder than others to let go of. So, about one box worth was packed away out of sight for a while and may go later. But, there’s an immense feeling of relief, like a weight has been lifted. We have room to breathe and play again. Ahhhh.

    3. Faith, you are considering doing a very wise thing for your children. As a grandmother who has seen the result of too much technology, video games, etc,. I will tell you how it has affected my oldest grandson. Very intelligent, and opinionated, the young man who was the first to call me “Nana” knew nothing about me at his graduation from High School. Each visit to my home in Hawaii , meant that the laptop or a book came out while at my house or on the road. There was no conversation, and answers to my queries were simply yes or no. Except for the activity portion of the visit, there was no appreciation for the island culture or beauty. His love of “gaming” kept him from going to college, locked up in his room as a prisoner of the technology he loved. It is an addiction, like any other. Without the ability to communicate with others, he could only relate to his “gaming” friends. He is 20 years old, and unable to secure a job on his own. His mother finally applied and found one for him! Having no sense of responsibility, he has thus far been left behind by his peers, and has lost any sense of personal pride in his appearance or cleanliness. Now he is being treated for depression. If you love your children, don’t let them become engrossed in technology. Sure it’s fun, and there’s much to learn; but creating and maintaining relationships, self-amusement, and learning to play with others is more rewarding in the long run. You are certainly on the right track now. His moodiness now is just a sign of his dependance on electronics for amusement. Better moody now than depressed later!

      1. Thank you Eileen for those words of wisdom. We know a middle age man in the same situation. He has had no life to speak of and now is losing his health to the point of life threatening conditions due to complete inactivity all his life. Sad.

      2. Eileen:

        Thank you for posting. I have a son who just turned 20 and is on the same boat! Mine has autism. He is the moodiest person in my house. All he wants to do is watch videos, movies or be on the laptop. I have taken everything away in the past only to have a family member bring it all back because he felt sorry for him. I sat at his birthday party saying that we would be a happier family if I could just throw away all the tv’s in my house. Maybe hearing your grandson’s story might give me the strength and courage to do something about our situation. Thank you for sharing. You will never know how much I appreciate it.

        1. I know more than anyone how horrible this problem of excess is bc of course we experience it too. My son has many traits of Autism but has a good grasp of language so he is labeled ADHD with Sensory Processing Nevertheless, the issues are the same. Fights and tantrums over everything we let him play on (screens) I am a shopaholic but have really toned it down a lot and I did it bc of the “void” in my life and the guilt, thinking that my kids would see how much I loved them. You see, I’m very sick. I have many “disorders” that are very real, cause very real pain and limit what and when I can do things. However, it’s not really observed by my husband. That is the other thing in our lives that’s just not ok. I live on disability and have a difficult time “making it” financially. I cannot work at this time and am even cognitively “challenged” at times. I nearly died and had to have a hysterectomy during the birth of our second child. I never bounced back as I was already very sick before my coma and bf I had my children. I feel guilty bc I can’t go on trips and there are days where all I can do is FORCE myself to get them ready for school and spend the rest of the day in bed. My husband and I have a pretty awful relationship. He is, I believe Bipolar, diagnosed by a psychiatrist during one meeting. Regardless, I never no what to expect and have grown afraid and weary.
          At one point I did the same as the author and took away most of his toys. He did not even miss them and will rarely even play anymore as his interests are changing to computer games and devices. He’s still there. I force him to run around the house when we play ” magic word” – one good thing I learned from Pee Wee’s Playhouse of all places. My kids are young. Five and seven. My marriage and tolerance for overindulgence is old. Twenty plus years. However, God (the Universe) gave me what he did and it’s what I have to work with so U keep going. I keep trying. One day things will be better. I pray for myself and practice self care as much as I can. I care for and provide for my children mostly on my own. I will keep doing so until I no longer can. However, I grow weary of this world of excess and try to steer my kids towards kindness and reality. You can run from your problems, I tell them, and fill your life with meaningless clutter but your problems ALWAYS find you until you “Take the Bull by the Horns,” and confront them, then. And ONLY then will we truely be free. There are things we are all able to change, even and most especially me. I do change things as much as I can. I change myself, my attitude and how Ilool at the world and show it to my children. I simply hope that is going to be enough bc right now, it’s all I have.

        2. If you want to break him free from tech stuff… maybe you should take it small. You’re just disrupting his routine and making him feel even worse. I know if my parents decided to take my tech away, I’d be a nervous wreck. I’m also autistic as well, though I’m an adult… but still.

      3. Love this!! I completely agree with you! I’m 34, have 3 kids (11, 2 and 9 months) and I limit electronics. I know people my age, whom I grew up with, who take all the entertainment to a crazy level! They must be stimulated ALL of the time! And these are adults! Moderation is key! I’m sorry your grandson is having such a tough time! I hope things work out!

    4. Love this!! My husband and I are thinking of trying it. We have these same issues with our son, who is a great kid but just completely obsessed with toys and electronics. The part about your daughter missing the fun because she couldn’t have the build-a-dino really struck a chord with us, as our son sulks whenever he doesn’t get a toy and misses so many special things because of it- most recently a trip to the science museum.

    5. My younger kids this is true too, I’ve noticed the less they have it the less of a thing it is “times up!” “Oh ok here” and they go and play v. the more they have it the more they whine and collapse into a tantrum when it’s time to turn it off. You have to do a “fast” to reset them, figure out your kid see how long it takes, maybe a week or 2, and see what the tipping point is of too much screen time. May be a certain # of days p/week or it may be mins a day you need to limit. I’m so glad we keep the sabbath and I have 1 day a week fast from technology.

  2. Yes, I’ve thought about it very often! I really think they would be content with only dress up clothes & Legos. I can hear the oldest boys now saying..”What about your stuff mama?”. Who knows…Maybe I’ll do it today:)

    1. LOL dress up and Legos are the 2 main toys in this house too! I can’t wait to hear how it goes Holly…I hope you write a post about it! 🙂

  3. This post came at the perfect time for me! My kids have an overwhelming amount of STUFF and my husband and I have be one sick of it. Neither of us grew up with excess and I spent hours reading and playing outside, same as my husband. My son’s biological mother left him when he was a few months old and my husband lved with his parents until we got married when our son was four. He was spoiled and still is by his grandparents and now my daughter is too. I argue on a daily basis with the kids to clean up their oversized playroom and I’m tired of the disorganization! We are being pulled by the Holy Spirit to pull our son from private school and I need half of that playroom for our classroom! I am planning on getting rid of st least half of the stuff and praying our family members support us and help us on this journey to simplify life! Because even though our son loves reading and my three year old daughter can do puzzles for hours, I still hear the words “I’m bored!” and it breaks my heart! I want my kids to understand that life is about love and people around you, not the stuff… Thank you thank you for this post, I needed to know I am not the only one in the world that wants to throw the needless toys out the window!!

    1. Good luck Karilee. It can be so hard when there are other people buying gifts for your kids because getting rid of them seems mean or ungrateful. We have that same problem with my Husband’s sister who LOVES to spoil them with toys and clothes. I finally just had to give myself permission to let stuff go, but anything that is “sentimental” I do put away in a keepsake box.

      1. We have a couple that we know that asked their parents to not get the kids more than 3 gifts. One is a book, two is an outfit or piece of clothing and three may be a toy. Luckily they were happily to comply. It is a hard subject to discuss with some family members. Luckily for us our family knows my son gets overwhelmed with getting to much stuff at once as he struggles with autism. We let our boys open everything and then put some stuff back, rotating it through out the year. I also do a fall clean out and get ready of all the things that they do not use. hope that helps some

    2. “Bored” is a four-year word in our home. If the kids are bored, I make sure they aren’t bored and they get an automatic half hour of weeding in the garden. Their friends know better too! It helps them to be pro active about using their imagination to have fun.

      1. I had a daycare in my home for forty years, the “B” word got a time to sit on a chair with binoculars and watch the grass grow.

        1. What a terrible thing to do to a child! When a kid says they’re bored, give them a book to read or have them research a new topic. Give them something to be creative with. Don’t punish them for expressing a completely human emotion, help them learn. I can’t imagine who lets these people work with kids, when they clearly don’t understand them at all..

        2. Well that surely doesn’t help…and I mis say I would never have wanted my children attending that daycare at all. When a child is bored give them something to stimulate their imagination, don’t punish them. Ask them…”Okay, your bored, let’s think of some creative things to do to fix that!” I feel that is a more appropriate answer to the situation but to each his own.

          1. There were millions of things to do at my daycare. The kid who got the binoculars usually ended up telling me about all the neat things he was seeing. Kids say they are bored sometimes just to see what you’ll come up with. Sometimes they need a quiet activity where THEY find the things to do by themselves.

        3. That is terrible! If children ( in general ) are bored it would be best to give them something to do for the day like reading a book, coloring, etc. You could even print out free coloring pages for them to color in. You could even let the children figure out what to do THEMselves.

        4. That is terrible! If children ( in general ) are bored it would be best to give them something to do for the day like reading a book, coloring, etc. You could even print out free coloring pages for them to color in. You could even let the children figure out what to do THEMselves.

    3. whenever we said “i’m bored” as kids, our mom gave us a chore to do. needless to say, it helped immensely! 🙂

      1. I think this is devastating for children. Toys keep their minds and bodies active and make them happy to be alive. Children can and do understand loss and they can grieve. If all toys are suddenly taken away from them and not given back forever. They will feel like a part of them has passed away.

  4. You are an inspiration! I feel like I am being driven out of my house by all of the stuff that my children and husband acquire! I always nagging them about the memories that we have. None of them include this STUFF! I would love to do this, but I feel like I would be lynched in my own home. But maybe this is what I need to risk so they can look back and remember the family moments, not the video games, the bins of junk, the piles of stuffed animals, etc….. Thank you for your post!!

  5. GREAT post! I don’t buy my son toys almost at all, but his Grandma enjoys buying him stuff and is a very sweet and generous person. I think what stops me from clearing out his room the most is knowing that she had such a good heart in getting him stuff. How do I get rid of stuff without looking ungrateful?? = /

    1. Thanks Juli. I have the same problem with my Husband’s sister, who spoils my daughters rotten. She has gotten a little better over the years as we have gently tried to explain how important it is that our kids not have too much stuff. I think seeing me give some of their stuff away that she had given them also made her realize it was a little too much. Now she sticks mostly to clothes so they are very well dressed. 🙂 Ultimately I just had to get over the idea that because something was a gift we had to keep it forever. Anything that is truly special & sentimental I put away in a keepsake box, but let’s be honest: a lot of it is just stuff!

    2. I have the same situation… my inlaws (including aunts-in-law) constantly buy my kids crap. What finally did it was having my MIL here when I had another baby. While she was here I asked if she’d help me organize their stuff/closet because now three kids would be sharing a room. When she saw first hand how much STUFF they have and had to put up with figuring out where the hell it would all go (I had a c-section, so she had to do all the heavy lifting), she declared she’d never buy them another toy again. Now she gets them one big thing they actually need, and asks us first. This year they’ll be getting bunk beds for Christmas. She still feels like she’s being helpful and giving, we’re greatly appreciative… and no small pieces all over the house 🙂

      1. A Bunk Bed is not a Christmas gift its something a parent needs to provide for their child to sleep in In other words its a bed the child needs it shouldn’t be called a Gift. Your taking away the joy of your child getting a special toy Christmas is for children not for the parents to get a huge furniture piece from a relative just so they don’t have to pay for it The parents wanted it not the child That s like a husband giving his new bride a blender saying sorry I couldn’t afford to take you out for our Anniversary and buy you a gift I figured its something we could use Would you like it? Katie

    3. This post just really hits home as I am the mother to two grown children and with my daughter getting married in the middle of July and wanting to start her family early next year (by the latest), I am faced with some soul searching here. My mother was a wonderful, loving, generous woman born in 1926 just before the Great Depression. She remembers having a lovely dolly (that I now have as part of all my “stuff”….another topic for another post 🙂 but not much else. My Dad always had a great job as an Engineer, and my brother and I were raised solid middle class. We did not lack for anything. I love stuff so my Mom always was very generous with gifts for my kids, God bless her soul. When my daughter was 7 and my son 2, our family moved away out of state. My parents would visit for 10 days only every summer. My Mom would bring mucho gifts when they visited. I think my kids were happier to see my parents for the gifts then for themselves. I never realized this until I read this post. My daughter is already afraid I’m going to spoil my grandchildren. This is a two generation trend, and I vow to break this trend with my future grandchildren instead making the time they will have with their Mom-Mom the special gift of the day. I love everything that has been said here and wished I had thought of some of these things with my own children. I love the idea of rotating toys. That’s ingenious! Ps – mine and my husband’s stuff is driving us crazy!! I can only imagine how it can overwhelm children. Thanks for everyone here for their input. Ruth, you made a step in the right direction for your family. I commend your bravery for taking the leap 🙂

      1. I’ve been working on this same problem with my family. This year I finally made some headway and my sisters got together and gave us a family membership to our favorite zoo and for my daughters birthday this month my sister sent 4 movie passes and a gift card enough to cover popcorn and juice for everyone. My daughter and I think these were the best gifts to date!
        I also went with the less is more thought at Christmas when Santa filled a stocking (socks, undies, her favorite bath bubbles, a pack of side walk chaulk and a bottle of outdoor bubbles!) and put just one other gift under the tree. I went small in gifting this year too. Two new outfits and a couple of books. I really thought my daughter would be disapointed but she had more fun with the few things then with the many of years past!

        My daughter and her best friend’s birthdays are with in a couple of weeks of each other and I took the girls out for a day of lunch out and a movie. Her mother acctually thanked me for thinking outside the box and not bringing another toy into their house. This weekend she is taking the girls to one of those indoor play grounds, I thanked her for the lack of toy gift too!
        Thank you for the inspriration to really get rid of all the toys that I keep stepping on that never get played with. I know just what I will keep and everything else will get packed away or donated! Thank you!!!

  6. We were planning a move about 18 months ago- to save my sanity while the house was for sale, I sold or gave away 95% of their toys. I caught so much slack from my mom friends, telling me how that was cruel and unfair for my children to have no toys to play with.

    Much like your children, mine LOVED the freedom! There was no more arguing for a clean room. There was no more stuff scattered throughout the house.

    Plans changed, and we didn’t move as planned. Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays have seen a steady influx of toys back into the house. Thanks for the encouragement that it’s time for a major purge again!

    1. I know Andrea, I didn’t even address how much EASIER it is to keep my house clean without having to pick up a gazillion toys each day! 🙂 Good luck with your purge!

  7. Great post. I agree with a lot of what you said. I know that was a bold move, and probably not an easy one to do. I agree also with what you said about stuff in itself is not bad, but the pursuit of more is the problem. Over the past couple of years we have worked to reduce our kids stuff as well, along with technology. It’s amazing even with all the toys around, they prefer to play with a something that maybe would otherwise be labelled trash for lack of a better term. My only question is I wonder if kids have a heart change because of something like this, or is it just a behavior modification. I guess the jury is still out on that. Also, how do your kids “earn it back”? Is it a good behavior award? Just curious. Thanks for sharing your honesty in this post. I enjoyed reading it.

    1. Thanks BG. At this point I don’t know whether it is a “true” change of heart but I guess I’ll take what I can get. We use a diamond jar reward system. They can earn diamonds for doing something helpful or reading or trying hard in school or learning their memory work, and once they have earned 10 diamonds they can get one toy back.

    1. Princess had her birthday while we were in Key West. We gave her a book and a dress, but her main gift was going on the trip. We haven’t thought much about Christmas yet, but I would like to make a dress for each of them, and Santa will probably bring one thing for each of them as well. We try to make Christmas about traditions and spending time together and giving back to other people anyway, so I’m not too worried about it.

      1. We also found “experience gifts” are the way to go on birthdays and Christmas. This year we stayed at home for Christmas since we are Gazelle Intense (thank you Dave Ramsey and A Merry Different Christmas). Hopefully next Christmas our credit card debt will be a memory and we will take a trip to make a memory!

  8. I love this post!!! I have twin girls and have been having the same problems with them. They have way to much toys and they never clean their stuff up. THey now expect me to clean it and if they have toys and are done with them they just throw them on the ground. I have threatend them many times to take away a lot of their toys but have never done it…until this week. Earlier in the week I spent hours in their room organizing the toys and cleaning. By day three my kids had taken every toy out and their room was a disaster. They refused to clean up. Fed up I went in their and took about 50% of their stuff out. And it looks and feels so much better. I think they really like it as well because they are not so overwhelmed by all the stuff. THeir room has remained clean for several days now. I to feel like less is more. I am constantly cleaning and feel we have just to much so I am going through the entire house and trying to get rid of at least 50% of everything. The less their is the less their is to clean!!

  9. It’s so good to know I’m not alone. I told my husband one day that it is my goal to throw at least one thing away a day from my girls’ bedroom. I am a bit of a neat freak and the other day, I just snapped when I was helping one of my girls find a pair of shoes for her AG doll. I just started tossing handfuls in the garbage, not even paying attention to much of what I was throwing away. I ended up with 3 bags full! I asked my girls afterwards if they hated when I get in those “throw away” moods, but, to my surprise, they both said they LOVED it! Reading this post has now motivated me to move on to the next task on my list (the one that keeps moving farther down the list) – cleaning out the closets. We don’t need half of that junk, and it’s going to feel so good getting rid of it.

  10. I will be doing something like this soon. With my entire house! I am tired of all the STUFF. STUFF here and STUFF there. Maybe my family will thank me later…. just maybe

  11. I totally agree that less is more. When I was a kid, my folks didn’t have a lot of money so we didn’t have the best and newest, but we never knew we didn’t have as much as the next kid. I remenber one Christmas, my mom got me a knockoff Barbie and made the clothes for the doll. It was one of the best Christmases I had. I hope that our younger generation learns from your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I still have the Barbie clothes that my mom made me for Christmas when I was a child. Very few other Christmas gifts have meant enough for me to keep all of these years. Now my daughters play with them.

  12. Awesome! ::laugh:: I did this once…and the kids could earn back one toy each day they kept their rooms clean (or at least clean enough for me to vacuum the rugs and not trip doing so). Unfortunately the clean didn’t last. I’m so tempted to do it again…

  13. Very, very scary thing to do…way to go. Less is More.

    Off subject: where do you typically shop for the girls clothes? Knowing you’re budget conscious, I’m curious where you find such cute things clothes.


    1. Thanks Kate.

      My sister-in-law buys them a LOT of their dresses & she is not especially budget conscious.

      When I shop for them I usually look for clearance/coupon deals at Gymboree, Target, TeaCollection.com, or Kohl’s. I have a really hard time buying them any clothes that aren’t at least 70% off, but sometimes at Target I’ll settle for 50%. 🙂

  14. I have 3 boys and I have taken all of there toys away about 1 year ago. They get 1 toy a day and it makes things so much simpler now that I don’t have to argue with them over picking their messes all the time and having that viscous cycle going on all the time. For my oldest son with ADHD and OCD he is much more happier now that it is easier for him to keep his room straight with his younger brother to which he shares a room. There are still fights but it isn’t over it is your mess you pick it up and my youngest who is 5 is content with playing with the one toy he picks out in the morning all day with hardly any issues. Life after toys is good. : )

      1. you’re to hard on your children they need toys to build up strength and dignity why take it all away it’s a bit selfish taking over let the kids decide

        1. You do not take away strength and dignity from a child by taking away their toys. It is not a selfish act. That is absolutely ridiculous. Back in the day we didn’t have that many toys because 1) most folks didn’t have the money to WASTE on tons of junk-we actually played outside and used our imaginations 2) children were not elevated to sainthood above all other creatures on earth. We had our proper place and it was perfectly fine, hence we did not feel entitled to receive every toy invented (most are disappointing anyhow) And 3) While we consider parents in previous times to be less than astute when it come to raising children, they sure knew more than we do in many ways. We would never consider refusing to clean our rooms, they knew that giving kids everything resulted in unhappy and unfulfilled little tyrants and through discipline (which is greatly lacking these days) and punishment including, oh horrors, a spanking (not beating), we learned self discipline and that one needs not be rewarded constantly for just being alive. In my opinion, kids seemed happier and learned more in school and behaved better.

          By the way, when my daughter was younger (first grandchild on both sides of the family)I took most of her toys and put them in the trash. She was upset at the time but quickly and easily adjusted to the new situation. She is now in her 30’s and has two children of her own. She is lacking in neither strength nor dignity. In fact she is self-assured,happy, happily married to her college sweetheart and is a senior engineer that develops fuel delivery systems for automobiles, has a patent and asked me to babysit the kids. Had she been stripped of self worth and her dignity torn to shreds because I took away a bunch of STUFF long ago, taught her self control and self discipline, not to mention that the planets didn’t circle our home because she was there, do you think for one second she would beg me to take care of her precious babies???? I think not.
          Simply put, that is shirk-your-responsibilities entitlement thinking. Look where that type of thinking has our country-trillions (TRILLIONS!) in debt.
          So while I came to this site looking for a recipe (lol), I was intrigued by this article and applaud all of you that love your children enough to do them this favor. It will benefit them, and your whole family, immensely. They will start using their brains. Trust me, I have been in your shoes it is a GOOD thing. don’t let the naysayers get you down. Even the ones in your own family. They also won’t die without iPads, pods, cellphones or a car when they turn 16.

          1. Exactly, Joan. I’m only 16 years old, but it’s plenty old enough to understand that everything you said is true. I agree with it all, including the main post! Comments like 556’s are absurd.

          2. I’m sorry but that is *EXACTLY* what you do when you *STEAL* someone else’s belongings from a position of authority (such as a parent) and right in front of them to boot. It is not *ever* a favor and only breeds hatred, resentment, and fear, *especially* when it is something that happens more than once. Such an event and abuse of power and authority happening once is easier to recover from, but no less damaging than it happening several times or on a regular basis.

            It’s a *fact* that kids need toys, that is one of the main ways that they stimulate their imaginations, having absolutely nothing can only get you and your imagination so far and gets beyond incredibly dull. Kids always require some form of tool to get the most out of their imagination, that’s why things like sticks and rocks become swords, guns, spears, grenades, or more mundane and less violent things like brooms or even pretend people. This is something even ancient humanity knew to be true (why else do you think we constantly keep finding ancient toys amongst the artifacts and so on in ruins or archeological digs). Not stealing other people’s possessions has absolutely nothing to do with your so-called “shirk-your responsibilities entitlement thinking” (which a completely garbage notion in the first place) and everything to do with being a moral, decent, upstanding human being!

          3. Yes yes yes, been waiting for this. Taking away your children’s things is cruel and unneeded, just because you have some obsession with keeping your house clean it doesn’t mean you torture your kids. You ripped away things with sentimental value and taught them that they have to “earn” love from you using a reward system, it’s no wonder why they don’t ask for anything anymore, last time one of them did you stole all of their possessions! This is abuse, plain and simple emotional abuse

          4. YES, finally someone who says it!
            A toy is more than just stuff, it’s one valuable tool that a child can use to express their own creativity.

          5. I don’t think the previous posters meant that they take ALL of their kids’ toys away. I think we live in a culture that is inundated by toys/material goods and so taking MOST toys away still leaves children with enough toys to fuel the imagination… especially open-ended toys like you’ve mentioned (blocks, sticks, fabric, simple dolls, what have you). I’ve been a professional artist most of my adult life and the most creative people I’ve ever met grew up in the middle of nowhere without much material possessions. Without much to play with or loads of entertainment, they had to dig into their imaginations constantly. So I think there is much value in attempting to give your child a simpler childhood rather than allow them to be subjects of countless marketing ploys and idle entertainment.

  15. I love this post! I have thought to do this so many times but was afraid to just like youbut nOw i think I’m going to try it. I also have a problem with my daughter watching way too much tv

      1. encouraging other vulnerable women to commit the same awful act as you , how do you sleep at night?

        1. Oh, please. Let’s knock off the drama! The same “awful act?” Tell me you’re joking! Even if you didn’t think that this was the right way to deal with the given situation, kids not having an excess of toys is hardly some kind of abuse. Come on. Kids “back then” didn’t have ANYTHING, and I have to believe that it was, in a lot of ways, a whole lot better that way. Kids these days are SO incredibly entitled. They shouldn’t be “owed” anything. I sure as heck wasn’t, and in turn I have the ability to enjoy the now, and be content with the things I DO have. Take a lesson from all of these “vulnerable women” who understand this concept. How does she sleep at night? Hmm… Probably pretty well.

          1. The problem isn’t amount of toys or possessions, I feel like you’re quite comically missing the point or deliberately ignoring it :/

            There’s a word for taking something that doesn’t belong to you and taking other people’s belongings without asking them or getting input, it’s called stealing, and it’s *always* wrong and an awful act. Cutting back on what her kids owned is not the issue and never was, as a matter of fact, cutting back on excess is almost always a great thing, the problem arises in how you deal with or execute that goal. If you just go in and take everything without any input or opinion from whoever owns it, then you’re stealing it and that’s a massive problem and absolutely not ok, not even a little bit. If an excess needs to be cut down, then the owners actually have to be involved and given input on the matter.

          2. Re-reading this, I realize how rude I was. I’d like to apologize. I need to quit getting into internet disputes!
            But in regards to your comment, The Doctor, I simply cannot agree. I don’t feel it’s wrong to take your kids’ toys away, I don’t feel it’s wrong to take them ALL away, and I don’t feel it’s wrong to take them all away and even never to give them back. I HIGHLY doubt that those kids bought a single one of those toys themselves. I’d bet you that each and every one of them was given either by the parents themselves or a relative, and again I say, kids receiving toys is a PRIVILEGE. I understand what your argument is, how they are the kid’s possessions, but if the parent feels it’s necessary to get rid of them, even forever, they should absolutely exercise their right to do so. Yup, I *do* believe that it’s their right to do so, and no, I don’t believe the kids have any kind of almighty kid-ly right to keep them. (Back to the whole privilege thing.) Parents taking away their children’s toys isn’t stealing. It’s tough-love parenting. I still think that it needs to happen more often. Ruth had the kids in mind throughout the whole process. (Yes, her own too when she said she was tired of the clutter, but she also has the right to make changes for her own benefit as owner of the house.) She did it to teach them an invaluable lesson about “less is more.” You said that I was comically missing the point by dwelling on this, but I don’t think I am considering that this is what initiated the ENTIRE post. And again, it WORKED. They learned to be happier and a whole lot more content, and it was all due to their loving mother who made a tough choice, but it turned out great. Please understand that I’m not trying to be insensitive to your story about you and your mom, but that just wasn’t what was going on *here.* She wasn’t stealing, she was parenting.

          3. Who cares if the kid didn’t buy the toy’s, obviously they can’t get a job!! Plus that lady was just tired of cleaning up and didn’t want to buy her kids toys when they went on vacation so she took all the kids toys away. Honestly how do you know if the kids are “really” happy… They could be just keeping everything inside.

          4. How can you “steal” something that was purchased by you, the parent? Also, you seem to have a very simplistic black and white view of the world “The Doctor”. I think you need a few more life experiences before making judgmental comments to parents who are trying to do what is best for their children.

          5. Well, Karen, once you give something away to another person, it doesn’t belong to you anymore. Whether or not you spent money on it doesn’t matter. That’s how gifts work. You don’t rent toys to your children.

            You’d never steal back a gift you gave to an adult friend and throw it away. Why do you think it’s OK to do the same to your own child? The only reason I can see is that you have less respect for their individuality next to people who aren’t even your flesh and blood.

            If there’s anything that I want to teach my kids, its to be an honest person with integrity. That means not going back on your words and actions, just because its convenient to you.

          6. My mother did this to me when I was a child. She took all my toys and donated them, telling me that if I complained I was a terrible person. Of course I never said anything. She took things that I loved, without talking to me about it except to tell me that she was tired of cleaning. It was all about HER. I’m 45 now and for that, and numerous other instances of disrespect for my personhood throughout my childhood, I will never forgive her. She also decided to “teach me a lesson” about putting clothes away properly by pouring bleach on all my clothes that I left on the floor and destroying them. Again, all about HER. This is child abuse. This is emotional manipulation by a narcissist who only thinks of themselves. The children are possessions to them, just props, with no agency of their own. The main reason I never had children of my own was because I never wanted to chance that I would be like my own mother. I would never want to put another person through that.

  16. Oh you MEAN and Horrible Mother! 🙂

    My Mom actually did this to us as kids AND cut the cord on the TV. LITERALLY. As we were watching it. She walked over, unplugged it and with a HUGE pair of scissors cut the cord in half in front of 6 horrified kids!
    From then on I had the BEST childhood. We played together and never were bored. I loved growing up that way. With my own 7 kids, they have WAY too much. A storm is brewing…. it won’t be long until the same thing goes down in this house.
    Love you! Love reading your gorgeous blog and looking at your amazing pictures!

    1. Oh Tiffany, that is AWESOME…..your mom had some serious guts! Can’t wait to hear how things go down in your house….you always have SUCH an entertaining way of sharing your family’s experiences! 🙂 xoxoxo

  17. Too much stuff? Oh yes! Way too much! And I’m just as bad as the kids. But I’m working on it. Last month, I spent a considerable amount of time filtering through boxes upon boxes of misc. things. Stray puzzle pieces, battery covers, marbles, doll shoes, screws, candles… you name it! Left to my husband, all those boxes would have just been tossed out to the trash. But I cannot stand wastefullness and I have a pet peeve about keeping sets of things together. I don’t know how I allowed things to get so bad. Anyway, missing things were found and toy sets were made complete. Then, most were placed in boxes to be donated. Much of this was done while my whole family was home. So the process was very slow because there were other pressing needs. Then, my in-laws took my kids for an entire day and that’s when the real work began! Their rooms were cleared, stuff was boxed up, and the stuff that was removed hasn’t even been thought about or asked for! It’s as if it was never even here in the first place! We have a long way to go. But this is a great start! And it shows that we really don’t need so much clutter in our lives. Hold on to the people, not the stuff!

  18. wow I am glad to know I am not the only one! I have 3 kids (1boy and 2 girls) ages 7,4 and 2. They had way too much stuff and I could not take it anymore either. I threw EVERYTHING away! I do not have a single toy in the house left. I did keep the family board games and this was the best thing I could have even done. my mom things i’m crazy but its such a weight lifted off my shoulders and the kids don’t even miss the toys!

  19. Excellent post! This really hit home with me. We share the same problems with ‘stuff’. I buy toys as means of showing love and that is so wrong. I also shop to fill a void in my own life and instead of enabling my kids to do the same its time I look deep inside myself to fix this problem once and for all. Thank you for the motivation!

  20. It is very refreshing to get rid of the excess. Yes I have done this. I am addicted to simplifying things. I move all the time so its a necessity. Many of our kids are so over stimulated that they don’t learn he art of the imagination. Having fewer things can be good for them too!

  21. I think taking away toys is great. My son has never had a lot of toys, and we’ve taken them all away. Like your daughters, he enjoyed playing alone just as much if not more. As an only child, he has always had to entertain himself, but taking the toys away made it worse.

    The problem becomes when it’s time for punishment (in my opinion). He learned to adapt to not having anything, and now very little affects him when it’s time for punishment. From time out to extra homework to physical labor, he takes it all in stride – mostly without a sense of urgency since he wouldn’t be “getting” anything in return.

    1. Taking away privileges doesn’t work for every child. For some, a discussion about what they did wrong and how much it hurt the parent does much more than taking away toys or making a kid do more work. Trust me, as a child, discussions and explanations did the trick. I played outside alone or with friends. I read perhaps way more than was necessary, I still do it as an adult. I hung out with the older cousins, aunts, uncles, other relatives and family friends that were much older, and that helped me maturity wise, learnt respect, and other things. Toys are not the pillar of a child’s existence. Think of the future and be more inventive or ask for help when stumped. God knows I get stumped lots of times.

  22. I’m about to take all the grandchildren’s toys out of my craft room.
    I’m not taking everything away, but going back to the Lego’s, Duplos, Barbies, Hot Wheels, the doll house, building blocks, few board games, and the craft supplies that we originally started with when we moved in to this house.
    Less is definitely more! I need to clear my stuff and my mind too.

  23. Please don’t feel need to post this comment…I just must send it in love. I knew another mom that made the same decision as you when her kids were young. She continued to attempt to teach her kids to do the right thing by controlling their choices and their belongings. She has already lost one of these children to drugs and violence and two more are headed in the same direction. When you see your kids making poor choices (materialism) please seek to teach them how to make the right choices themselves. Yes, this begins at an early age and continues. Making the choices for them, taking away gifts and possessions that were once theirs is a very very scary slope to start down. I totally mean this in love as someone who has watched that family break.

    1. Taking away their toys was probably a symptom of a deeper cause. Kids can sniff controlling attitudes from a mile away, and rebel against it.
      The same decision can be made from different perspectives. I agree with you, but this all seems healthy, at this point. Especially when the children are given buy-in on the process, not just punishment from a very unhappy, unhealthy parent.

      1. I’m sorry but I have to agree with the above commentor…this is a dangerous decision to make. Its like the difference between punishment and discipline. When you just lose it and take away your childrens possessions (bc that’s what they are to the child) you are teaching them that they have no say-so, no control over their own things. Have you ever read the book Boundarries? I suggest you do. A better way to approach this may have been to have a heart to heart with your girls and then let them each choose 4 or 5 toys to keep. In order to grow up confident and develop healthy bounddaries, children need to feel in control of their lives/bodies/personal space. It does not surprise me her kids grew up to be drug users as many children do turn to that lifestyle when they do not develop healthy boundaries. You absolutely cannot control your kids and expect everything to end up ok. Maybe they didn’t ask for toys bc they know you will just say no or throw them out. Did you ask them how it made them feel? I recently read an article about a hoarder and one of the traumatic turning points for her was when her mother threw away all of her toys and nice clothes. It was devestating.

        1. I think you all are looking at this the wrong way. Having just done this myself with the same result I can tell you that it was absolutely the right thing to do. We now have a library check out system for toys and our daughter is allowed to have 2 toys or 1 bin of an activity out at a time if her room is perfectly clean. She LOVES this system and whats more, enjoys having a clean, calm inviting bedroom. She feels like she is in control of things more because it is not overwhelmed by the mere presence of toys in her room. She does not miss her toys at all. I’m not getting rid of absolutely everything, but thinning out was necessary for all of our sakes. I honestly do not think that because i’m teaching my family to be organized, frugal and grateful for the small and simple things that she will one day self destruct and turn to drugs or worse to self soothe or fill an empty void.

          1. The fact you used the phrase “perfectly clean” alarms me. Life is about messes and the process and forcing a child to meet super clean expectations (tidy yes. Organized yes. Clean. Yes. But perfect? Be careful you’re not teaching your child perfectionism and legalism.

    2. I would like to comment that my father used to threaten to take away everything and leave us sisters with 3 sets of clothing each and a bed in our rooms. He never did it because my mother wouldn’t let him, but as an adult, I now wish that he had done it. To this day, I struggle with valuing my possessions and act carelessly with them. If I had been cut down to nothing, it would have taught me to appreciate what I had and to purposefully take care of those items.

    3. You seriously think kids turned to drugs and violence because their mother took away their toys? Please. Obviously there was something else wrong in those children’s lives. There is a difference between being over-bearing and controlling when kids are old enough to make their own decisions (I know a 35 year old who still feels bullied into making certain decisions by his father), and taking away excessive toys when children are young. Of course you need to make choices for them when they are young, they are too young to make good choices for themselves. Do you let them choose if they want to go to school, or whether to take medicine they have been prescribed, or whether to eat healthy food? I hope not.

      1. Great post! I am slowly heading that way too and it is encouraging to hear that I am not the only one out there. We have gotten rid of about 90% of the toys and have already seen a big difference. I am ready to go all the way, but have been discouraged by family members. We are about to move and think that may be the time to make the final purge.

      2. You obviously didn’t actually READ my reply….developing healthy boundaries and habits starts when a child is very young. In order to do that, you need to allow them to have some kind of choice in the decision…that does not mean they run the show, or have the final say – you give them 2 choices and let them decide. NOT- do you want to stay home today? But rather: do you want to wear your blue or red shoes to school today? Her post was very dramatic- you can see the picture in the post and there are ZERO possessions in the girls’ room. My point is that if you are consistently controlling every thing your child does and not allowing them to develop healthy boundaries and decision making skills, they WILL have emotional problems later in life. Period. And yes, that can mean a life of drug use. Or being a grown man and allowing your father to run your life. Neither of those are healthy things. I’m also not advocating no consequences for your children…she did warn them and they chose to ignore her. However, she helped to create that environment that her kids live in by allowing things to get out of control. My kids have toys, but they also have chores, and they clean up their own toys. I don’t do it for them. Every few months, we purge toys and clothes, and I GIVE MY KIDS A SAY SO in what is purged. Because it is their stuff, not mine. Mostly gifts that were given to them by loved ones. My point is obviously there are other issues at play here if her kids are constantly whining for stuff and not listening when she asks them to do stuff. Honestly I just felt like this whole post was ridiculous parenting.

        1. When you think about it, there’s millions of children around the world with very little or no “possessions” at all. Yet when they surveyed children from across the globe, the found that poor countries have happier children than the ones in first world countries. Goes to show… materialism does not make one happy. I plan on donating my kids’ toys, except for the developmental ones. Great post, Ruth!

          1. I have read this thread and I think (for what its worth) that purging the toys and “junk” is a great idea. Now, for those of you in the recent posts who keep referring to parents taking away children’s possessions… THE POSSESSIONS ARE THE PARENTS IN THE FIRST PLACE! The children shouldnt have “rights” or too many choices at a young age, that’s what makes them entitled. With kids developing drug problems and that sort of thing, I can assure you it is not a result of having toys taken away. That would make it a giant temper tantrum. emotional issues like that are most definitely stemmed from deeper problems as was stated in an earlier response. However, when you have children in the beginning phases of making bad choices, its a good idea to purge the bedroom of any items that allow the child to be their “own person,” of individuality, until they get a grip on how to cope with being a regular person first. I have removed the toys and such from my sons room, and he had to earn back the few things I did allow him to have. It isn’t “controlling them” like robots, but letting them know who the “alpha dog” is. Kids really are alot like puppies. 🙂 Just putting my two cents in, Thanks for hearing me out.

          2. Your thoughts on this matter quite honestly disgust and appall me, actually no, if you honestly think something as *horrible* as all of that *YOU* disgust and appall me. A mentality like that is *exactly* what leads to problem kids or kids who grow up to be maladjusted, whether that be something as extreme as turning to drugs or a life of crime, or something “tame” like being a grown adult and out on their own and letting their parents push them around or make all the decisions for them.

            Anything given to the kids is *NOT* the parents or anyone elses, it belongs to whoever it was given to and no one else. If you give your friend a birthday present you’re not entitled to suddenly changing your mind and taking it back, or if you consider your friend to be abusing it. Once you give something away to someone it’s theirs alone and you have no further say over that item. And having rights does not make someone entitled or spoiled in the least, every human has the same rights from birth to death and those rights do *not* change or only suddenly appear at a certain age. Perhaps you are confusing rights and privileges, a *privilege* is not guaranteed to you from the day you’re born, they are things you have to earn or to reach a certain milestone (like age) in order to have access to them and they are something that can be revoked. Everything you said above is pretty much a picture perfect example of how *NOT* to parent.

          3. While I do agree a child has rights, is the parent not the carer of the child. If someone is in a home, while they have rights, their carer has the final say. We as parents have the final say. If I see my son is becoming an entitled, spoilt brat with no regard for his belongings, then it is my duty as a parent to say “James, this is what is going on and this is how we are going to fix it.” My parents did this to me. They would come in and simplify my room. So much stuff was always in a box or the bottom of the cupboard and then forgotten about. Kids need to have certain decisions made for them. While they may be a bit annoyed now, when they see how much easier it is to cope when there isn’t a mess all the time, they will thank their parents. I cleaned my nieces and nephews room. They had so much crap. They each got a small box to put their favourite toys, aand the rest was given away. For my nephews birthday recently, he got a teenage mutant turtles suit with all the accessories, he NEVER plays with it. Ever. It is ridiculous. While a child has rights, what their parent sees fit, is what is best. Within reason. We all know our own children.

        2. I think you should consider the side that it’s rude to say her kids will have problems. She’s a Christian and although she’s not perfect, and neither are her kids, they have Christ to tell them whether doing something is wrong or right and honestly, to each their own. 🙂 I am sorry that everyone is overreacting; i think there are more mature ways people could go about this.

  24. When our son was born, DH and I were determined not to let the toys get out of hand. We strongly feel that it’s good for him to grow up “poor”. And yet, his toy box is already overflowing. Thanks for this reminder!

  25. We’ve had the most trouble with the little toys that family gives.
    We’ve been encouraging boks, and lately, my family has been cutting down on gifts, much to my relief. They’ve even been asking about needs, which has been a relief.

    I love your post.

    People are always so surprised that I’m not getting my children a ton of toys for Christmas and birthdays.

    Your post is a good reminder to me that it’s time to put the Legos back up for a while. My husband just reminded me of this yesterday, but I stopped before replying and put them up.

  26. I love this post; thank you so much for sharing. It’s been something I’ve been mulling over for a long time. I’m curious what your thoughts are on this: my eldest child is 6. He’s incredibly sentimental, so much so that he cried when I was going to donate my old boppy! I have terrible time trying to get him to get rid of stuff he no longer needs or uses. How would I approach this without breaking his sensitive heart?

    1. for Brooke:
      My 4th child is sentimental. She had been stuffing her special things under her dresser until they bulged out in an unsightly manner. I finally gave her a box that would slide easily under her bed and told her that she could keep whatever she could fit in that box. From time to time, she has discarded an item that had lost it’s sentimental value to make room for a new item.

      Also, I occasionally clean the kids’s rooms when they are gone. This prevents them from renewing their attachment to items on their way out. Be careful, though, that you do not discard an item that is truly important to your child because it looks like “junk” to you. Best wishes.

  27. When my son was young, he had way too much stuff, too. Every year we would clean out and he would have a yard sale that we advertised as a “boy’s yard sale”. He would sell tons of stuff and buy only one thing – first a big lego kit, then a cd player, last time it was a foosball table. He is now in college and came home for a weekend recently to purge his stuff so I could sell it. Ha!! He said I could keep the money for his college needs. I think our society has become crazy with all the junk out there. It floored me one year when someone gave my son a battery operated bubble blower. What happened to simple bubbles in the bottle??? I believe that if you don’t have so much stuff, you do use your imagination more – when your child says, “I’m bored” that is a GOOD thing – it will make them look for something to do UNLESS you step in and “save” them every time. I also agree that you can be too controlling when you just take their stuff away,throw things out without their input, or make your high standards theirs. I grew up with parents like that and my brother and I both HATE being in their home. (We weren’t allowed to have “attachments” to toys or ever put anything out of place). We both moved as far away as possible when we grew up!! There is a fine line between helping your children be less reliant on “stuff” and being an overbearing, helicopter parent as Nancy noted. Help your children learn to be self-reliant and able to make decisions (good and bad – they learn from their mistakes, too!). I am so happy to almost see adulthood with mine… whew! it is a tough job being a parent.

  28. Hello, I’m new, and already stuck my neck out there. hee.
    I desperately need to thin out the toys. I make a plan to do it every year before Christmas, and never quite get it all done. I do, fortunately, grab some of the broken and cheap toys and get rid of them.
    I love the idea of a garage sale, though. I have three girls- 10, 8, and 5 (and a boy, 3). I bet I could get them to sell their stuff. I will probably not let them buy toys with it, though! HA!

  29. Oh, darn. I forgot the biggest part. We’re homeschoolers, and I try to hold on to anything that’s open-ended, creative or educational. *sigh*

  30. oh how i thank you for this post. my family is currently in the process of moving/downsizing Wr have been living in a 1300square foot house and now are downsizing into a fifth wheel. My husband had always wanted to live at the beach and we finally were able to make that dream come true about 3 days ago. as we have moved in to our now 300 square feet it has been quite the reality check for me and all my stuff. i love doing craft projects and have let my collection of stuff get away fro
    me. i didnt have time to get everything and while i have noticed things that i wish id grabbed, there is also a lot i dont miss. 🙂

  31. I have thought and thought and thought about seriously depleting the toy pile. But I’m afraid of the kids having nothing to do! I think you just convinced me to go for it.

  32. I took all my sons toys away when he was 3. I ended up having to stay after preschool to talk to his teacher about his “lying.” She said the topic was “what is your favorite toy?” and his response was he didn’t have any. Took me a long time to convince her he wasn’t lying. I think maybe she thought I was lying to cover for him lol.

    1. All due respect, ‘hilarious’ certainly isn’t the word I would choose to appropriately describe a situation like this.

      I’m sorry, but if an actual trained caregiver and preschool teacher (who, mind you, has almost definitely taken childhood development courses in order to obtain such a job) is so struck with disbelief, it should clue you in as to how extreme your decision is.

      I can understand limiting toy play to one at a time, or having a child pick and choose what to keep and what to donate. All children are not the same, and some require different parenting approaches than others. But it’s this concept that suddenly depriving your child of his or her belongings in an attempt to ‘better’ them that’s harmful.

      There is a distinct difference between ‘thinning out the toy pile’ and marching belligerently into your child’s room and packing up their beloved possessions all at once. There were many a day when my mother overturned my toy box and set it aside with an accompanying tote, individually labeling the two ‘keep’ and ‘give away’. You can work with your child in order to cut down clutter and teach the importance of mindfulness when it comes to materialism and hoarding. The role of the parent is to guide rather than corral. Discuss with them which toys they truly feel the need to hold on to, and gently encourage them to part with those that they do not. Feeling that your child is overwhelmed by an abundance of toys they barely play with is fine, tossing out everything in sight is not.

      (Lord above, don’t get me started on the comforter. A comforter is not a toy. You should not deprive your children of their comforter because you think they need to ‘earn’ the right to sleep with proper bedding. Perhaps this punishment would have made sense if you detailed a direct refusal to make their bed/a tendency to leave the blankets strewn around the room. Otherwise, it just seems extreme and unnecessary.)

      “I don’t have any toys.” Think about that. It sounds more akin to something that might have tumbled out of the mouth of a lonely, downtrodden orphan in a Hallmark holiday movie. It certainly shouldn’t be something that you happily hear come from your own child, and you can’t tell me it’s the sort of thing you honestly believe should be met with praise.

  33. Wow. This is Inspiring and scary all at the same time. I think I take comfort from my “stuff” and the idea of “what if” I need it someday. But I’m struggling with a ridiculously messy cluttered house. Stepping on toys is not fun either. On the other hand I would rather he play with his Lincoln logs, tinker toys, Legos, an cars than watch tv which he only gets to watch in the morning while I get ready. I can’t imagine getting rid of ALL his toys but I know I need to do a purge soon! His birthday is coming up and we will be getting more toys I’m sure.

  34. OH MY GOSH! I just did this very thing with my daughters room about a month ago with the same result. I took away ALL her toys with the exception of her ipod that she uses to go to sleep at night and have dance parties during the day and her art supplies and desk. (she is 5 btw) I left a note on her dresser saying that during the night all of her toys had moved out because they were sad that she wouldnt take care of them and that they would come back when she could treat them nicely. I expected major drama and tantrums but had the same experience that you did with your kids…she was so relieved to have her room clean and free of everything. she walked in and thanked me for taking everything out. How funny to have the same exact experience. I felt like i was reading a description of my life, family and past personal issues when i read your post. thanks so much!

  35. ps my daughter asked me the other day if we could not get her a lot of christmas gifts…being the only grandchild she gets super spoiled every year and its very overwhelming. She told me this year she just wants 3 gifts. How easy did my life just get??

  36. Okay, so I sort of stumbled upon your blog and am so glad I did! I really enjoy (as we all do!) giving gifts to my children, seeing their excitement, surprise, everything. About five years ago, my husband and I decided to only give each child one gift for their birthday and one for Christmas and simultaneously get rid of at least 50% of their toys (ended up being around 80%). SO much better. But now, things are getting crowded again. Last week, after the typical “clean your room” and “I like it like this” back-and-forth, we agreed to purge again. No toys allowed in bedrooms and we’re only keeping the stuff that is a complete set, has a clearly marked box, and is put away. “Put away” means on the shelf at the top of the closet. Since then, they’ve not asked to get them down. At all. I thought maybe something was wrong with them until I also saw the freedom. I’m thinking this is a permanent situation for us, as well. Thank you so much for sharing your experiment and putting it into words! Keep it up, rock star!

  37. I have a very distict memory of my parents doing this when I was 5. I shared a room with my sister and it was a DISASTER. Having told us repeatedly to clean it up, my parents came in with large bags and started filling them up with everything on the floor. My mom says that we got it all back later, which I don’t remember, but I do remember that all of my life there has always been too much stuff.
    My husband and I are both neat freaks but we have six kids so we are always fighting this battle. We have done the “Jesus only got 3 Christmas presents, and so do you” thing with our kids for several years now. Only one of the gifts is a toy or that type of thing. My mom and MIL have started “gifting” time with the kids like going on trips with Gma and Gpa, or a day at a water park. MIL said gifts recieved will be long forgotten but making memories like that will last a lifetime. Last year my teen boys went to the Grand Canyon. This year my girls went to Disney World.
    I have a licensed home daycare and am required to have a large supply of toys, games, books and craft supplies, but there have been many days when I’ve thought how much I would love to get rid of it all. After weeks of tripping over enormous messes that the children created by dumping out every box of toys all over the play room, I removed several boxes of small toys and put them away. Now it is more managable so that the little ones can clean up and they don’t get so overwhelmed. I agree that removing the toys from the kids’ bedrooms was a good thing, too. Now only one room of the house gets messy – the play room.
    I am still looking forward to be done with the “toy” stage of life.

  38. This is a very interesting post. We raised 6 children (all wonderful adults now with messy kids of their own) and I struggled with the STUFF the whole time. The good thing was, when they grew up and moved away, then their things went with them. We tried to keep it under control with only mixed results. Like one responder above, a couple of my children had a lot of nostalgia connected with their things. It was all up and down through the years. That being said, I’m about to do this to MYSELF. Well, not exactly, but I am in line for a MAJOR streamlining fit. 🙂

  39. Every 6 months I purge my son’s toys, right before his birthday & Christmas, have done this since he was born & he is now 5. This past January we had to put one of our dogs down, my son was devastated. I had read in a magazine about a circle of friends that ask each guest to give $5 instead of a gift. And the child donates 1/2 of it to a charity of their choice, & the other 1/2 the child can do whatever they want with. So for his 5th birthday we asked that each guest give $5 instead of a toy. I got slack fom a couple people, but I heard a lot of praise fom others. My son donated 1/2 to Purdue Lafayette Small Animal Hospital (that is where we had to put our dog down), he picked out two toys, & put the rest of the money in his savings account. He played with the toys for a week, & then he got bored with them. A couple of weeks ago he asked if he could do the same thing next year for his birthday, & where should he donate to? It made me smile.

  40. My husband emailed me the link to this blog post because it is what he has been saying for months/years! Our kids are 6, 3, 2 (with another on the way), and while we have given away 75-80% off their stuff, they still have too much. I did put a lot in the attic, for when they “wanted” it, but almost all has been forgotten. I’d like to think I’m brave enough to take away all the rest, putting it in the attic for awhile too. I’m afraid of the consequences, like you said, but the results that you describe sound amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  41. What are your “guidelines” for keeping or even purchasing a “toy.” My husband and I are in a season of simplifying and I was just wanting your input.

    1. I haven’t purchased any toys since we did this and honestly I don’t think I will be purchasing any for a long, long time. The things that I did decide to keep were high-quality (no junky plastic) items that encourage imaginative or cooperative play, or are educational. I keep bins of Legos, dress-up, wooden trains, American Girl dolls, & play food/dishes for their kitchen in their closet, along with puzzles and board games. They can have these items down when they request them, but they have to clean up any previous messes first. The also each have a special blanket and 2 special stuffed animals (each) all the time. In our school room we have a ton of art supplies, many of which they can access on their own, and they always have access to books.

      I did put several bins of stuff in the attic which is mostly licensed stuff like Littlest Pet Shop, Zsu Zsu Pets & Barbie Dolls, along with a box of “sentimental” items that were gifts or stuff I didn’t really want to get rid of. They have never asked for any of it so I will probably go through at some point and get rid of the non sentimental stuff.

  42. I’ve got to know…didn’t your girls freak out? If someone got rid of all of my stuff I’d be so hurt and offended. I do agree that most kids have way too much stuff these days (my child included), but there has to be a healthy middle ground somewhere. Please tell me how they handled this.

    1. Surprisingly, no, they really didn’t freak out at all. I had been warning them all morning that if they didn’t pick up, it was all going to go away and I think when I finally did it, they were almost relieved. (And a little shocked.) They cried for about 30 seconds (if that) and then they were fine, they even helped me get it all out of their room. Later that day, as we were driving to gymnastics, my then 5 year old even said, “Mommy, it’s okay that we don’t have our toys anymore because we can just read and use our imaginations, and now we won’t have to clean our room anymore.”

    2. Jenny, the difference is you’re an adult and most of your belongings you have probably paid for yourself and chosen yourself for a specific reason, and as an adult you know no-one else has the right to dictate what you can own (within law/reason). So naturally you would freak out if someone tried to take your stuff away. Children grow up (or should do, anyway) knowing their parents are ‘the boss’ and do have the right to dictate what they own (again, within reason). Also, most of the things they own they did not buy themselves with their own money – they were given them. My parents never did this take-away-all-the-toys thing, but aside from a few special toys that I was sentimentally attached to (I essentially viewed them as my own children!!), I was far more attached to things I had chosen and paid for with my own hard-earned money rather than things we had acquired as hand-me-downs from friends/family or things we’d been given as presents but never really used.

      Plus, when kids have been warned it’s going to get taken away, they don’t exactly have any right to freak out when it actually happens!

      Keep in mind also Ruth didn’t take all her girls’ stuff away – just the toys. They obviously still had all their clothes, furniture, books, and even colouring equipment.

  43. I LOVE this! We did a downscaled version of this when we noticed our girls were fighting more than usual. Turning off the tv and downsizing toys helped them to use their imagination and really interact with each other. Truly a blessing!

      1. Almost everything that kids have was given to them as a PRIVILEGE, and if they can’t treat it nicely and obey the rules that come along with it, then it should be taken away. It’s hardly “terrible.” I actually kinda laughed at that!

  44. Perfect timing for me to run across this! I just got rid of almost everything of my 13 year old daughters today. At first she was furious but an hour or so later she actually looked relieved and by the end of the night she thanked me. I was already planning on doing my boys room tomorrow and this just solidifies my desire for less “stuff” and makes me feel a little less like a “nazi” mom as a few of my friends called me.

  45. Hi, this is great! Children would rather play or practice doing the real things with parents. Chech out montessori services.com to get ideas. This method is very wholesome. I run my childcare like this.

  46. Yes! I have been contemplating this for months. We have a playroom full of stuff, it’s always a mess and yet, they never play in it. We need to downsize on stuff in a major way. Being overwhelmed freezes me in my tracks. I don’t like it. It’s good for them to have a break from “stuff” just as it will be for me. Thank you for posting this.

  47. I think the idea of not spoiling your children is GREAT! We live in one of the most materialistic countries on the planet. I’m not so sure I agree with the method here, but if it makes your life happy, then that’s good. I’m a believer that the best way to teach our children is by being their example.. So for example, what kind of cookware do you use? Is it nice? Couldn’t you do with something less. The bottom line here is we could ALL do with SOMETHING less. I’m not saying kids should have a ton of toys. Mine don’t. And we buy clothes at yardsales. My daughter gets excited over a box of hand-me-downs. I can only dream of having a space designated to “playroom”. We don’t visit places like Key West for sure. No ipads, tv, or kindles here. They have their toys, but the important part I think is that if they saw a child who was lonely or sad and had nothing, they would want to give something to them. If we make life about “well you really don’t need all this stuff”, how much do we ourselves really not need?

  48. My husband and I did this exact thing about a month ago! Amazing how great things were around here without all the toys to pick up and fight over! We began giving a thing or two back in the last couple weeks… BIG mistake!! My daughters room is a disaster again!! She is almost 8. We have noticed ungreatfulness too, not something that we have taught!!! I think this time, the toys will be going for good! There will be books, art supplies and two types of toys… thats all!! I also have baskets for types of toys and started that when my daughter and son were about 2 so that they could easily find, and put away toys. It SAVES time, since life IS short. 😉 Great post!! THANKS!

  49. What a wonderful post and so in line with what we try and do as a family!

    My kids are 2 and 11 months and while I haven’t taken away all their toys they have very few and will continue to have very few. We have many books, blocks, a few dress up items and a little play kitchen with a few items. I also recycled old formula cans, shoe boxes, yogurt containers etc to become their kitchen items. It’s turned out to be much better for us!

    I also decided to turn OFF the TV during the day back in January. I had it on just to have it on and it was pointless. After I turned it off my toddler kept asking for it to be on. I didn’t realize that she was actually watching it and felt she needed it on too. 🙁 This was a wake up call and I knew I was doing the right thing. After a week we got used to it and our “addiction” to it went away. That was 10 months ago and we’re still going strong! We now fill our time cooking, building towers and reading.

    During birthdays we ask that any money people were going to our girls to buy a gift, give to a specific thing we wrote about in the birthday party invitation. When our first daughter turned 1 we asked they give money to our church because we wanted a playground for our little ones but it wasn’t in the budget. The whole time our church was raising money by donation. Shortly thereafter the playground was built and our girls will enjoy it for years to come. For her second birthday we asked the money be given to her to donate through Kiva.org. Kiva is a wonderful organization helping people in other countries who don’t have access to banks or resources to start their own businesses but want to make something of themselves and a good life for their family. She got $250 and was able to help 4 separate people and when she gets paid back from them she’ll pick others to give to.

    Christmas is harder though. I haven’t found a nice way to ask people to do something else. Actually our parents are the problem, our sweet moms in fact. They go all out crazy for Christmas and I hate it. I don’t want to hurt their feelings but I don’t know what to say (they’re both gift givers and toy lovers). I would like to limit it to 3 items per child (instead of 6 or more they each get) if not only 1 gift. In our home we give one gift. We focus more on experiences than things. And as the girls get older we’re going to do more missions wise. I.e. Operation Christmas Child, food pantry’s, giving our time to serve others, etc. We ask for a zoo membership to our local zoo and would rather have families do something similar. But we’re not sure how to ask.

  50. This is awesome. I love it. We recently downsized our toys and got rid of a lot of stuff. We kept blocks, dolls and doll clothes, dress up stuff, play tools, and play kitchen stuff. As I type that, it still sounds like a lot, but let me tell you, it’s a LOT better than it was.

    I appreciate you writing this blog to let others know how great it is to just get rid of stuff.

    Thank you!

  51. Interesting post! Our daughter (3 years old) didn’t have tons of toys to begin with, but our family lost nearly all of our belonging to a bad mold issue in our old home. There was only one thing she really missed, and I was able to replace, her favorite stuffed cat she had picked out for herself. (She doesn’t know it’s not the exact same one though.) We later asked what she wanted to have that she used to have, and we would get it for her. She has asked for a toy stroller for her cat and some lego. She has a few more toys now, but she mostly plays with a couple of her favorites. A lot of her play is imaginary play involving the most random things, or “crafting” with paper, glue, scissors… We also read A LOT and she does watch tv from the internet while I’m on the computer (she sits in my lap so she isn’t alone).

    I already knew she wasn’t very attached to things. She has refused to choose a free gift for example. Once running errands in the city, I asked her if she wanted to go to the toy store. “No mom, let’s just go home!” was her response. At Christmas last year she didn’t get that much, but at half point of opening her gifts she claimed: “This is the last one!” and she wanted to give away some of the toys she got. She will sometimes give something to me and say that she doesn’t need it and we should give it some other child. So I’m really, REALLY trying to make the point to family and friends to not give her toys. They will probably end up being donated as she just won’t play with them.

    I love the “three gifts because that’s how many Jesus got” – but we actually won’t be giving our daughter three gifts yet, because she will get from others as well. Later perhaps we will give three but it won’t be all toys. She is only now starting to “get” birthdays, and has wishes. She wants glue and glitter (oh dear…) and a camera. Yes, she has been talking about the camera… she used to have my old pocket camera. So I think we will get her a small pocket camera for her birthday, and that’s it. She is turning four.. but all she wants is to create stuff (and read). She has not talked about wanting one single toy.

    We are doing the Christmas child gift boxes and she is excited about that 🙂 So I definitely want to focus more on giving, less on receiving.

    We are pretty minimalist as a family, and now more than ever since the mold stuff.. and it’s definitely a relief that she doesn’t want to have a lot of stuff, and doesn’t hang on to every thing.

  52. I would LOVE to throw away all of my kids toys. I can see now that with the exception of a few toys they can get something new and play with it for a day at most then its forgotten. The thing that bothers me the most is that they fight constantly over the same exact thing only for one kid to finally get it then lose interest. Drives me nuts.

  53. Great story! It makes me want to throw away everything I own. I notice when I travel for business what an immense relief it is to be in a hotel room where there are empty tabletops, a clear desk, and only the clothes I brought with me in the closet. I sleep like a baby in hotel rooms, but at home I can’t rest – there is so much to be done just to clean and maintain the house that I can’t relax.

  54. I wonder how many things you should throw out of your house that are “entirely unessential.”
    Perhaps even the computer that you are typing on. It seems that you punish your children for using their stuff inappropriately (such as playing with their toys and God forbid doing so with more than one at a time and leaving them on the floor) and I wonder if you shouldn’t also consider your inappropriate use of your luxuries. Tell me what things adorn your house that only clutter or that only serve to please you. It seems to me that your children had at times had a difficult time with responsibility, though you admit that you have moments of impulsiveness.

    You began this blog as a shoppoholic??? Where did you kids ever adopt this mentality of consumerist materialism? How long did it take you to address this issue in your life and what makes you think that your kids will over come it so easily? You do understand that they are not psychologically even capable of understanding the values that you are enforcing in their lives? In fact it would only seem that you are enforcing negative ones (hypocrisy). Let them learn from you! Prove that you can do it in your life first. Teach through example, not through coercion or you are in for some trouble.

    1. Do you really believe we should not discipline and teach our children until our own lives are perfect? What an awful society we would live in in that case!

      Ruth had already told her girls multiple times to clean their rooms, told them what the consequence would be, and they still didn’t do it. That is a very simple sequence of events and they look old enough to have fully understood what was expected and what was going to happen. This is not coercion, it is consequences, something every member of society deals with and far too many children do not learn these days. Parents who expect their children to just follow their good example without any discipline and teaching are the ones who are “in for some trouble”!!

      And what do you mean “they are not psychologically even capable of understanding the values that you are enforcing in their lives”?? Do you think children retain the psychological capabilities of a 1 year old until they are 12? This quote from Ruth’s daughter proves you are wrong: “it’s okay that we don’t have any more toys Mommy. We can just read and use our imaginations. And now we won’t have to clean up every day.” So yes, they definitely understood the values she was teaching them: that it is not important to have lots of toys because we can entertain ourselves and lead a simpler life without them.

  55. I didn’t have a positive reaction to the children’s a few weeks later and not making any request. Instead it felt like an emotionally abusive parent who didn’t physically touch them, but scarred their heart and made them feel unsafe to ask for even the smallest toy because it would affect their home and life. I’m sorry, I don’t believe extremism is the right answer. Going too far either way in everything in life is wrong. Sorry, it’s how the story made me feel.

    1. I felt the same way! This type of parenting seems extreme and borderline abusive to me. Children don’t need tons of toys to be happy, I get that… But even taking their comforters, that I don’t get. Making a child scared to ask for a toy isn’t impressive.

      1. You need a reality check on abuse if you think this is borderline abusive. The girls still have access to some toys, they have their books, colouring equipment, they are clothed, fed, loved, nurtured, and you dare suggest ‘abuse’ comes into this? What a joke. You need a serious reality check. Try seeing what a real abusive home is. And the idea that the girls were scared to ask for a toy or felt unsafe… that makes me laugh. It is a sad world when adults can’t comprehend that children can learn to enjoy life without copious amounts of toys. Did you miss the paragraphs that said the girls don’t even want most of their toys back? They know they are there, and that they can get them out one at a time, but most of them they do not even want. Did you miss the parts that said they are happier, more patient, more creative? I suggest re-reading the entire section ‘Paradigm Shift’.

        1. Leah, not all abuse comes in the form of bruises and hurtful comments. I would agree that this is abuse in the sense that Ruth is clearly the type of person who needs to control everything. I find it just as abusive to never teach your children how to think and make decisions for themselves. Yes, taking away the toys when they wouldn’t pick them up, that was great. Not allowing them to earn them back or at least choose for themselves which ones to keep? What’s the point in having mind. I had a dear friend with mother like Ruth…who then ended up with a controlling husband who turned into an abuser. Teach your kids how to think for themselves and, yes, teach them to be happier with less. Lead by example. Sincerely, Ruthie (because I never met someone who went by Ruth that wasn’t a control freak)

          1. Wow to imply that Ruth is a controlling abusive mom is a bit extreme don’t you think. Personally, I say “Way to go Ruth. ” I grew up with a controlling mom so I can spot one a mile away. Ruth, your actions with your daughters wasn’t controlling……. it was parenting! Thank you Ruth for teaching your girls through experience that their happiness doesn’t revolve around their stuff AND showing them that there are consequences for their actions (or lack of action lol) even from young. You warned them repeatedly about not picking up their toys. Its comical to me that many of theses negative post say you’re wrong for what you did but yet none of them actually give a working suggestion for how you “should” have handled it. I agree on one thing though. What will work for one child might not necessarily work for another but doing nothing at all or expecting our kids to know right/wrong on their own without being showed/told what is right/wrong is lazy parenting. This one solution can be adapted and changed to fit different children. From adopting the ability to earn back toys overtime to possibly donating old toys twice a year. Go Ruth!

          2. THANK YOU, LEAH AND SHERIA! It’s very, very sad that those other women considered this abuse. VERY sad. If only they knew what REAL abuse was. What Ruth did was PARENTING. For some reason, the idea that parenting is abuse is growing ever prevalent today. Real parenting needs to be done a heck of a lot more, and all the worshipping kids’ “rights” a lot less.

          3. As a child who went through this personally I can say this is abuse. I’ve had many years of therapy to try to come to grips with what my parents did to me, and you don’t have the right to tell me that it’s all cool. There are probably a lot of other things going on in this household that qualify as abuse, as there was in my childhood Wait until they get older and realize what harm was done to them psychologically. Children are humans, with rights, but still the parents need to understand that children need guidance. Not to be victimized.

  56. Hi Ruth,
    I need some ideas. My kids are asking me to take away their toys – we have a big toy room and they hate cleaning it up. BUT my husband thinks I’m crazy and that it’s mean. Any suggestions how I can convince him.

    ALSO what do you do with all the papers that the kids generate – meaning art and pictures? I never have time for scrapbooking! Would it be OK to throw them out? Right now they are thrown into a drawer per child, but guess what, the drawer is overflowing! I feel overwhelmed by stuff!! Help!

    1. As far as your husband is concerned–perhaps you could make a compromise. Box up the 80% or so of the toys they don’t really play with and put them in the garage or basement or attic. Tell your husband that if they ask for something specific, you will give it back, but whatever they go a month without missing, you will give away. I did that our first go-round and my husband had a much easier time with it. Now he is as gung-ho as I am! 🙂

      Regarding the papers….my strategy is to have a big bin in their closet that I put most of the papers and artwork into. When it gets full I keep the best ones in a 2nd keepsake bin and toss the rest. It’s okay to throw out the ones that aren’t that special. I also toss stuff as we go along–anything they didn’t put a lot of effort into goes in the trash right away.

      Hope that helps, so sorry for taking so long to respond! 🙂

    2. I have been reading a book about organizing small spaces and loved the suggestion made about children’s school papers, etc. She said each school year collect the papers and art in a box. At the end of the year, the parent and the child go through the papers together choosing their favorites that will fit in one yellow manilla envelope. Also for any science projects, large artwork, etc. you take a picture of the art or the child with the project, then print it and put the pic in that yellow envelope. Don’t forget awards and certificates! Then label the envelope with the child’s name and grade in school. Keep all the envelopes in a box to give your child after they leave home. It’s a box of their memories!

      1. This is such a great idea. We did something similar with our children but didn’t do the manilla envelope. We had a keepsake box for each child and when they had a special paper I would put the date on the back and put it in the box. It turned out great, but the manilla envelopes idea is an improvement.

    3. Do you have a digital camera? Take a picture of each creation before you throw it out. Then you can create a digital scrapbook.

  57. I did not read all the comments and I see this is an older story but I wanted to add my 2 cents. My husband and I worked and we had 2 small children and every weekend we would do something with the kids which included buying them junk they did not need. I decided one morning with no planing to quit my job of 6 six years to stay home with my babies. Boy was I in for a shock. I didn’t realize how much we spent on things that we didn’t need and no longer working we couldn’t buy things like we once had. I, like you saw first hand on my 3 year old what getting everything she wanted had really cost. She felt like she deserved everything all the time and that was my fault. I have been home 9 months now and have spent the last 4 on a journey to simplify our home and life, this has been super hard as I am a shopaholic by nature. What a hard year but the difference in my oldest now 4 is amazing. She is very overwhelmed with her room and toys and I may just go thru and donate half and put the rest on a rotation like others did. I think you are doing your children right and they will thank you when they are older if not now.

  58. Hi Ruth! I am super excited to connect to you… especially since we are going to be Blissdom Roomies! SO SO nice to meet you!
    So this post. Wow. WOW. Can I just tell you that this post pierces me in a beautiful way.
    I, like you did, feel my children slipping into that deep cliff of “not enough. not enough. not enough.” And I want to rescue them from it? Why?? Because I slip down it all the time. And it IS a pit! One where the devourer leaves unsatisfied. When I decided to leave a comment to tell you how much this post means to me, and how encouraged I am that I CAN make a difference for my kids’ benefits… I was taken aback at some of the negative comments you got. But then again…I reflect on the commenter that said, “If I took away all their stuff, I would have to take away mine.” Here is the thing. We are SPOILED in this country… and at the same time, so so sad. The countries that rate the highest for depression are the richest; the happiest? Those with nothing. I feel this Rich poison in our own home, and your post simply encouraged me that I CAN do something about it. I CAN simplify. {I liked Elizabeth Langford’s idea of rotating toys to minimize!}. Thank you for writing this and I really can’t wait to chat with you about it in person!

    1. Darlene, I am SO SO excited to meet you at Blissdom as well, and WOW it sounds like we definitely have a LOT to talk about! This post was written last September but in the past 6 months I have only been more convicted of the need to just have less–both for my kids and myself. Can’t wait to chat in person–less than 2 weeks now! 🙂 xoxo

  59. Loved this post! I struggle with this and so do my boys! I would love to take away all their toys but I am not sure I have the guts to do it! Something for me to think about for sure!

  60. Ruth this post is so so close to what I’ve been trying to do for years and just haven’t taken the plunge! Makes me want to sit down and have awesome talks with you that I had at Blissdom two years ago!! Miss you 🙂

  61. Do you think it would have worked if you only had one child? Your girls have each other to play with, what if they didn’t?

    1. Many activities can fill one’s day without toys. It definitely works. I’m an only child and grew up with a limited amount of toys. I spent most of my time outdoors making friends and exploring and playing without any toys happily by myself using things like trees, sticks, dirt and imagination. When I was indoors I spent my time reading and creating art with the books and art materials I had, I sang and made music with pots and pans, and I used my imagination to create make-believe worlds (I had a few dress-up items, a doll and a few stuffed animals). I helped my parents cook and bake (LOVED doing that), they played games with me even though I wasn’t that annoying kid who begged their parents to play with them (really, I just asked and they said I never went out of my way to try to play with them), I spent a great deal talking to family members who lived far away and I did chores. Think about it, I went to daycare or school until 3ish and I was in bed by 8ish so that’s only like, five hours to fill on weekdays and on the weekends I’d watch some cartoons, maybe go to the beach or pool, and visit family and friends (even if we didn’t do those things it was fine). I never remember feeling bored or lonely. I was totally content hanging out with myself both indoors and outdoors without toys. I had a loving family, a healthy home environment, and plenty of friends. Maybe that’s why I didn’t have the need for “toys.” Maybe when you have healthy relationships and a happy life, you don’t need validation from or create unhealthy attachments to material objects?

  62. I guess my question is what you think about this with regards to younger children? Like toddlers? My 14 month old daughter is so difficult to keep entertained all day. I’d be interested in doing this, but I think I would end up having to sit with her all day so she didn’t get bored! Ha ha.

    1. I got rid of a bunch of my 17 month old daughter’s toys (the plastic junk) and she doesn’t even realize it. She has so much more fun with adult stuff anyways. She plays with my necklaces, bowls in the cabinet, chopsticks from the drawers, ribbons, shoes, etc.
      Check out Reggio inspired play ideas at http://www.letthechildrenplay.net/

  63. We have always talked about money with our kids. Like Daddy has to work one hour so you can have this, is it worth it? My kids do have an excess in stuff and when they were little we had issues with them breaking stuff. When we moved a few months ago…. oops more than 1/2 their stuff made it’s way to the thrift store. I agree that they do like having less. I find that even my 12 year old sits with the littles to play legos, they go outside more and definitely more happy. My kids never ask for things in stores simply because they are aware that we are a little tight on money…. and if they really love it will get is as a gift later. I think teaching children about money and how much it takes to get it also needs to be taught. I think what you did with your children was wonderful!

  64. Just now reading this, but about a month ago I took away all my son’s toys as well. For the same reason, he didn’t want to pick them up. I feel it has helped him learn to appreciate what little bit he does have.

  65. I was sort of on the fence about this, but I think that I may try something similar-one small bit of toys in their rooms and then keep a few boxes of toys upstairs on rotation. We moved a year or so ago, and when we get those toys that were boxed up and put upstairs out, it’s like christmas. And really, there are not that many toys that my children would play with. You know, toys that come in every happy meal in the USA, the busted ones, the toys and games that are missing bits and pieces…when a space is clean and uncluttered, you feel more at peace. We are a nation of hoarders. This is a positive way to counter that tendency.

  66. I’ve been slowly purging all year long last year, but THIS is what we really need! Thank you for the inspiration! It’s too bad this wouldn’t happen. I just wouldn’t be able to. But this is the most convincing post I’ve read to realize we need to get rid of their toys. Truth is, they only play with about 20% of the toys, I need to aim at keeping just those 20% and using a rotation so that they only have 10% of all the toys to play with at any given time! Need to schedule that donation truck to force myself to do it.

  67. First of all… Thank you so much for this post. We are in the middle of a move and I think this has given me the extra kick to purge a lot of the excess ‘stuff’ my family and I have that seems to be causing more stress than enjoyment. My question is, as a homeschooling mom, like myself, where do you draw the line? I often look through catalogs (like Discount School Supply and Lakeshore) and I fall in love with love with all this stuff that I think the kids ‘need.’ I am trying to keep my list of acceptable toys to keep to a minimum (Legos, wooden blocks, a few cars, costumes, animals, dollhouse and books) but then I feel all this other stuff is already sneaking in… How did you stand your ground? Do you do a rotation of ‘other’ toys that are stored in a closet, or somewhere else? Any words of wisdom or advice would be amazing!

  68. Completely understand. Although I have 2 kids. I took all their toys away. Its less of a distraction. The only things they have now are 2-3 small toys that u can carry around and coloring books. I see a change in attitude and when we go to the store they ask politely to play with one toy and when shopping is over we would put them back on the shelf. no crying or screaming. i feel my kids are more well behaved compared to other children their age.

  69. I think this is brilliant! So wonderful to hear! I think today’s kids have way way too much stuff. Just stuff too, that most of the time they aren’t even aware they have! My boys go without a lot and we very rarely buy them new things, so we’re already pretty minimalist. Each year I go through their stuff and throw things away they don’t need. I love it. And they’re creative happy boys! I think this is genius and I almost want to get rid of all my kids toys just because! Thanks for sharing!

  70. I personally APPLAUDE your advanced parenting skills! I struggle with the daily arguments “pick up after yourself”… ” stop fighting over the toys and share” and “no I will not buy that, you have enough and don’t need it” however I make empty threats that are ignored and laughed at and I am left feeling bad for not giving in and buying the world! Thank you so much for being a brave confident mother and sharing a true story that has worked out well for you.

  71. I am to the point of doing this with my youngest two sons, ages 2 & 4. They have so much junk they are out of room to store it all. I will likely get rid of most of it, keeping only their car collection (I enjoy letting them each choose a new hot wheels car when they behave during shopping trips) and their mega blocks. I will let them keep all of the outside toys, but I do need to find a storage solution for those, I’m waiting for someone to break their neck trying to get to the front door. I’m pretty lenient with the use of tablets because they learn so much from the games they play. I can’t wait to see what the reaction will be 🙂

  72. I want to do something similar to this so badly, but the one thing stopping me is our extended family. We have 4 grandparents, 7 great-grandparents, and 7 aunts and uncles to our kids right here in town. Almost everything my children have comes from these people. I would be getting rid of gifts that our family gave them. I know it’s my kids, and my choice, but that makes it hard. Just this past Easter my children each got 5 (!) Easter baskets filled with stuff from family. How do you handle that? How do you let these people who love them so much know that they don’t need their gifts?

  73. I think this sounds great and don’t understand why people are criticising you. You warned your girls what would happen if they didn’t clean up their room, and followed through with it. It’s not like they didn’t have a chance to prevent it. This is the problem with children today – parents who threaten to do something and don’t follow through. And parents who think you’re horrible if you do actually follow through (enriching their lives in the long run!)

    I don’t yet have children but I have been thinking for a few years now on the kinds of standards I want to have in my house and for my children. And ‘not many toys’ is one of them! I want them to have toys which encourage their creativity and imagination, which educate and develop useful skills, or which encourage them to be active outdoors. This might include things like paints, sketch pads, skipping ropes, lego, hula hoops, etc. I also would rather they have fewer good-quality items than copious amounts of rubbish plastic toys. I think toys can be an important part of a child’s development so am not really interested in a ‘no toy’ existence (and despite your heading, it sounds to me like you’d probably agree, as you’ve obviously left your girls their books and colouring items, and have kept toys that you think are good for them!) But I hope that when I do have kids my extended family puts thought into useful and creative presents which don’t just add to an accumulating pile of toys.

    I have been trying to teach my husband that kids do not need lots of toys to be kept occupied. We see children in public who are misbehaving and he thinks it’s because their parents haven’t brought along enough toys to keep them occupied (and this is a concept his mother reinforces). I try to explain that parents should not be required to provide entertainment for their kids every waking hour of the day and children should be taught to behave when they are out and make their own entertainment (obviously this varies depending on where you are and how old your children are. Babies and toddlers often do need things to keep them occupied!). I think he is slowly coming round!

  74. I’ve taken my kids toys away from them and its worked beautifully. Not to mention, allowed me to spend less time overseeing their room cleanup! It’s amazing what a little purge can bring. Good for you, and even better for your children! They will appreciate the time you spend together much more than the things they have accumulated.

  75. Thank you! I have been wanting to box up the kids toys for months now, but haven’t had the guts. After reading this, I’m going to pick up some boxes on the way home. I am so done. I can’t even have company over because it takes me 3 days to clean my house and put up toys and ‘stuff’. And now I’m pregnant with a surprise 4th child to add into the mix. Claustophobic doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel in my house. I, too, am a recovering compulsive shopper, which adds another layer in all of this. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

  76. To balance out what I can only imagine must be negative reactions, may I just say bravo to you. I’m not a parent, but I find this completely inspired and you very brave. Thank you for sharing.

  77. This is the first post I’ve read of yours but I already love you. Bold moves are what makes a difference in our families! I read a lot of critical responses from people, but I think its great! Every year at Christmas we give away toys for kids who might not get anything at Christmas. But I know we could and should do more to simplify. I just read “Cleaning House” by Kay Wyma and we’re working on getting our 5 and 8 year old learning to do things like dishes, cooking, serving others. But soon I need to make a bold move like this to cut back on stuff and screen time. Its tricky because I have a chronic illness and sometimes the screen time helps me get through a tough day. But they really do get more creative when they get “bored”. Keep on doing good work as a mom! Your kids are very blessed!

  78. So ironic that I stumbled across your post. I smiled the entire time I was reading it and I thank you, thank you for sharing your experiences. I seem to be right where you are in life, contemplating all the same things:) Your blog is a terrific motivator!

  79. I love this post. I am sooo getting close to doing this same thing. I agree that kids don’t need to have a lot of toys. With too much stuff, my kids don’t use their imaginations because they can just pull out what they need instead of improvise. I want them to challenge themselves and use their imaginations. I am definitely going to try this. We have a mom to mom sale coming up where I can sell most of it! I also love the update you posted. It is good to know it is still continuing to work.

  80. I can imagine that this has been a difficult post for you to write. Some will agree and cheer you on yet others will disagree, criticize, and judge you unfairly. It is what happens when we openly share our lives on public forums. But I say good for you!!!! Ultimately, no one else knows what is best for your family. If you and your husband agree, and you see the fruit in your children than that is all that truly matters. Good for you for standing up for what is best for your family!!

  81. Ruth, I just came across this page in messy room frustration. Immediately after reading this blog, I went in to my girls room, sat down and said “I know you don’t want to clean your room and I think it’s because you just have to much stuff and you don’t know where to start. How about we put most of your toys in bins and take them to the attic. Once a month we’ll switch it out.” I had my mouth half open and ready to start convincing them when they both shot up and said “OKAY!” Took out a bin from their closet and started dumping toys in. The oldest even said she would like to move the books from the bookcase and get rid of the bookcase altogether to have more room!!! My kids left me speechless! I am a very happy mom. Thank you!

    1. Small update: the room cleanup is complete! I am in shock and in awe of my girls, 6 & 8. I have never in my life seen them move as fast as they did today. You would think we were going to Disney World. They filled 7, yes 7 bins worth of stuff ALL of their Barbies except 5, Barbie closet in tow and left 1, just 1 shelf of toys. It was shocking to watch them dragging the bins to the garage. My oldest said “You know mom, I’m starting to think its better when you don’t have alot of stuff.”!!!
      If you stop to think how overwhelmed WE get when we have to clean house, imagine what that’s like for a 6 year old. I’m very happy to have come across this article Ruth, thank you again. I am also happy that I involved my girls in the decision and watched them fly. I have a hunch that they aren’t even going to miss anything and eventually end up donating most of it. Now, on to teddy bears!

      1. This is the way it *should* be done. You didn’t steal your kids possessions from them, and more importantly you actively involved them and made them part of the progress. That is the key here, that you actually gave some control to your kids and gave them input on what happens to their own things.

        The mistake the poster of this article made is making the choice for them. Kids are not going to learn how to properly do thing if their parents always do it for them. If you just take away everything your kid(s) owns they’re not going to learn anything except fear and not only that, work to kill their ambitions….why strive to get or achieve something if someone is just going to come along and take away everything you worked for or you wanted?

        1. Sorry, The Doctor, but that’s part of being a parent. The problem is that kids CAN’T make all of the decisions they need to make when they’re young. If they could, they would have chosen to do the room cleanup on their own without it being brought up. No, I’m not saying that kids aren’t smart, and it’s not that I’m not giving them enough credit, or blah blah blah, but that’s just the way it is. Kids DO need to be TOLD what to do. Not ASKED if they WANT to do it, and then be left to DECIDE. If they could decide everything for themselves, they could move out at age three and live alone, but alas- that’s not the case, and never will be.

          1. No, being a parent is all about teaching your kids and training them to make decisions on their own so that they actually *can* be independent and make the right decisions when they finally move out on their own. There are some decisions that can only be made the parent, especially when a kid really young (like your three year old example). If you *keep* on making every decision throughout a kid’s life *for* them they’re never going to learn anything at all. As your kids get older there *are* plenty of decisions that they can quite easily make on their own or that should be left almost entirely up to them, deciding everything *for* them and never giving your kids any kind of input ever is only going to screw them up, and not only that cause them to resent you and see you as controlling (which would be an incredibly accurate description). And saying kids aren’t smart and not giving them enough credit is *exactly* what you’re doing, how ready each kid is to start making their own decisions or to have the parents start backing off depends entirely on the maturity of the individual kid(s), some will always need more care than others such as kids with Down Syndrome or other mental disorders that significantly affects people’s ability to fend for themselves, and others will be ready for it sooner than others. The whole entire span of the childhood and teenage years is for learning all of the lifeskills and decision making skills they’ll need when they’re finally grown up and out on their own, the whole entire job of a parent is to teach and guide their children so that they can learn these things, making every decision for them is not going to do that and is in fact bad parenting, being a helicopter parent is *never* a good idea and never actually solves anything.

          2. I’m sorry, I should have tried to clarify what I meant better. I know that parenting is getting the kids ready to be a functional individual, and that DOES involve letting them make their own decisions, but I DON’T agree that that’s what should have happened here. She said her kids were like 6 and 7? (I think that’s close, I didn’t scroll back to the top to see.) In my opinion, 6 and 7 year olds, while yeah, are smart enough to make some of their own decisions, (getting back to the not giving them enough credit thing,) shouldn’t GET to decide to clean their room or not. That’s one of those classic “do as you’re told” scenarios. They were told by their mother to clean their room, and they “chose” not to, which isn’t an example of learning decision making, it’s an example of disobedience. When I was 7 years old, my mom still TOLD me what to do (for the most part,) like cleaning y room, and I didn’t get to *decide* if I wanted to obey or not. And thank heavens she did tell me what to do, and enforce her rules, or I’d still be living in a pigsty to this day! So I’m sorry if I didn’t clarify too well on that point- I get what you’re saying, and I agree to some extent, but not to the point of being able to *choose* if they obey or not. That should be a given- what mom says goes! That is also a crucial part of parenting, learning to respect authority. They won’t always get to decide what they want to do, say, in a job. If the boss says to clean something up, he/she isn’t gonna politely ask if they *want* to clean something up, he/she’s going to TELL them to, and they need to know how to obey. It starts at home.

          3. Perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I thought I was either or should have elaborated more. When I’ve been talking about involving them in decision making or letting them have choices it was in the context of tasks like cutting down on clutter in the home or jobs like that. When they’re told to do something naturally they should do it or expect to receive negative consequences because that’s how it works in the real world and that’s part of training them and teaching them for independent life. I was purely talking about giving them a choice and involving them when it came to things like getting rid of possessions, *that* is a task that they should not be written out of. Whether they should have a choice in whether to get rid of anything or not I don’t really have an opinion on and frankly doesn’t really matter too much in the long run, but if their own possessions are being gotten rid of or put away in storage or whatever, that is where their input should be involved. That’s the kind of thing that I’ve been talking about when it comes to involving them in decision making and so forth.

            Now taking something away as a punishment with the full intention of them getting it back eventually or earning it back eventually, that’s something I don’t necessarily approve or that I would do, but taking away their possessions and never intending on giving them back at all, like the writer of the article did, is absolutely *NEVER* ok (it’s stealing) and causes all kinds of harm to the relationship between the kids and the parent(s). This is something I speak very much from personal experience on as this sort of thing is exactly what I had to deal with growing up, mom would have regular episodes, completely with yelling and screaming, where if there was even the slightest bit of mess she’d go through and throw it all in a box and never give any of it back. I was terrified of her and constantly afraid of her coming in and stealing all of my stuff on a whim, or of my stuff that I’d let siblings use getting swept up with their stuff (didn’t matter whose it was, if it was there, it was gone, period) and stolen. It’s a big part of why there’s a big huge wedge between us even now and why I could even go so far as to say I hate her :/ With something like cutting down on excess or clutter, it’s important to lead by example (yet another thing mom didn’t do with us when stealing all our stuff, *her* stuff or dad’s was never gotten rid of at all) and to involve the kids on the things that are actually theirs, otherwise you’re going to have a world of trouble at some point down the road.

          4. Firstly, I’m sorry about you and your mom. 🙁 I wish things were better for you. Hearing your given situation, I agree that that was probably pretty upsetting for you, as well it should have been, but I just don’t think that’s what was going on *here.* She gave them plenty of warnings, and it was after those warnings were given that she took their toys away, and she also said that they even helped pack them away, *and* were thankful for it. So I know that you had a similar situation and it ended badly, and again, I am sorry for that, but this situation was handled differently than yours and the outcome was wonderful! So in my opinion, she did the right thing.

          5. Hah, I was kind of in a similar boat. My mother would randomly take my things when it suited her, whether to throw away or for gifting to the child of someone else if she suddenly needed a gift. No warning, no nothing, just poof gone because hey it was her house and she owned us and so the things we owned by extension belonged to her and she was the only one who mattered.
            I still happily share for instance food items with others these days, but I’m nevertheless super territorial with my actual things and get disproportionately upset if someone damages or wants to use any of my items that I didn’t buy specifically for lending to people and that someone doesn’t immediately accept the first no. Yes, I have some things that are mine-mine-you-can’t-touch-it, and some things that I can lend or give to people at a moment’s notice, that I don’t really see as mine. I’m still trying to learn to be more normal about ownership, unsurprisingly… Some day, some day, I’ll finally not get incredibly stressed out when people are near “my” things.

  82. Hi, Ruth! I just found your blog and think you’re simply wonderful! I really appreciate your sense of humor about raising kids 🙂 I have an 18 month old little boy, and he’s an angel, but I’ve gotten sucked into buying him a new toy at least once a week – and it’s getting ridiculous! He’s the only grandchild on both sides, so he gets spoiled by everyone in the family. I have decided from this day forward that we’re going to do a purge of his toy box and donate all the things he doesn’t need/play with/even know he has. I have gone through tons of your posts (I especially like the parenting ones since I’m learning how to be the mother of a toddler!) and will be checking back regularly! Thanks for posting!!!

  83. I think that is so great!! Both adults and kids alike become so attached to STUFF….material things that absolutely do not matter. I applaud you, and what you have done for your family 🙂

  84. it seems that all of the parenting things that we learn from others experiences are things we tend to know deep down in our hearts and once we implement them I feel as if I always knew them just didn’t trust my instinct.

  85. Ruth, Know that you are not alone in this! We went a few steps further to Clothing. So not only did I pack up the “Toy Room” and make that into a guest room but i also went through the gazillion clothes they had. I ended up taking 12 leaf lawn garbage bags to Good Will (YES 12). It is a struggle to keep the clothes to a minimum with 6 people in the house and still feel like they can express themselves through the clothes that they have. However they appreciate the ones that they do have now and take care of them.

  86. Wow! I’m so amazed that somebody else out there believes that children now a days are more concerned with what the next person has or what they don’t have rather than what they do. I constantly talk to my 3 brothers n mom about how we weren’t allowed to watch T.V. and had to use our imaginations to play. One because we couldn’t afford luxuries because my mom was going to school, and two because my mom was so hung up on enjoying the natural things in life (she; however, had a huge advantage because she lived on a mountain and free range). I try and teach my three year old daughter that she doesn’t need a toy that we have a wonderful park right acroos the street with a jungle gym that she gets to share with her little friends. And, I too, do not that she does not have a closet full of toys, nor does she have a T.V. that she sits and watches all day long. Being a 28year old mom, I too am able to enjoy the outdoors because playing with her allows me to be healthy and fit. So with that said, I enjoyed reading your blog! Keep up the great work, that the only people raising your children is your husband and yourself!

  87. I think it’s a brilliant solution. You followed through with a promised consequence, and that’s completely fair. Just this week I decided that the kids will only be allowed on electronics on Saturdays and even then it would be limited. Since establishing and maintaining that rule, my older girls (age 11 and 8) decided to use their free time to write their first “novels”. I told them that if they completed and illustrated their books, I would “publish” them (aka print them off into a hard-bound book via my publisher.com or equivalent. It’s been so fun listening to them bounce ideas off each other and draw sketches of their characters.
    I have realized that my children (including my younger two daughters, age 2 and 4) play MORE when they have LESS! When there are too many toys, they get disinterested and want me to entertain them. I have been planning a gigantic purging of their things for a while now, but your post inspired me to get it DONE. Thank you.

  88. Hi Ruth,

    I wanted to commend you and thank you for posting this–I know it takes a lot of courage to post anything about parenting. I really appreciated your insight into this. I am finding myself agreeing with you about this. My boys have a TON of toys and it seems that the more they receive, the more they want. I know the toys are given with good intentions and with a kind heart, but I think my boys really only play with a handful of their toys. We bagged some of my oldest son’s toys up and “hid” them in our basement for a while because he refused to clean up his room and he really hasn’t missed them at all. We are moving in six weeks or so and I’m thinking there will be quite a few toys that make it into the give away pile. I love the idea of keeping only those toys that actually stimulate creative thought and play. Just wanted to send you a little encouragement and let you know that I appreciated your frankness. Blessings to you, Ruth!

  89. Thank you for this post! It was shared with me when I posted in a fb group about being at that “breaking point” with my daughter. I felt that the overwhelm of stuff was a distraction, not only from productive and healthy behavior, but also from respectful interaction between my daughter and me. I’m a believer!

  90. I did not have time to read all the comments, but what is very qurious for me is what was the process of “winning” the things back for the girls? I am namy time close to the point of performing a similar action with my kids staff, partially because of the cleaning, particlaly, because they have way too much and what is even worth, kid’s things occupy 80 % of our living space and there seem to be no end to their wishes. So, once I have emprissoned all their staffed animals. But I have not managed the giving back process as they will need at least some of the things to play with. Another question: when you packed things away, which of the things stayed? were that only books and coloring books? Looking forward for advice 🙂

  91. Just stumbled on your blog when a friend shared in on facebook, and I have to say I LOVE this article! My husband and I are newlyweds, and hoping to start our little family soon. 🙂 And this just really inspired me. We don’t have a lot of money, so I’ve actually worried that we won’t be able to buy our kids tons of nice toys. This post literally almost made me cry, thinking of how beautiful life with our children can be…BECAUSE we don’t have all those toys. Thanks so much for sharing, and for inspiring me to live a little simpler.

    Now, I just may spend my weekend getting rid of some things I don’t need. 🙂

  92. I need to do something like this. Our kids have too much stuff and their wanting/begging for more all the time drives me nuts. Not sure I would get rid of everything, but I would love to get rid of half of it. Thanks for the food for thought and sharing how it went for you and your family.

  93. Such an awesome idea! I feel as though my girls are happiest when they are without toys or electronics and simply using their imaginations. I have wanted to purge so badly, but have never gotten around to it. I think it’s time though. This will be my project this coming week. Thank you for sharing this!

  94. I just read this thought the other day and wish I could remember the source… Anyway, it was like this “what comes out of another’s mouth has everything to do with where they are at and nothing to do with you” … It was about criticism and harshness. That really made me think… When people are unkind, it is about their own selves and not really about you. I think any negative comments you have gotten on this post can be viewed in this light. By the way, I recently started blogging at krysiasunflowers.blogspot.com. Women like you have been an inspiration to me and I believe The Lord has placed I on my heart to encourage other women… We need more of that in this day and age! I so appreciate your willingness to step out and share:). May The Lord bless and keep you!

  95. Oooooooooh Love this post!!! I did it over 20 years ago to my son!!! The best thing I ever did. I then limited his gifts at Christmas to only 3 and one had to be book! Another great post!!!

  96. I loved this post, and so did my husband. Years ago I packed up all of the kid’s toys into bins (and got rid of a bunch) and limited what they had access to, but we still have too much. I read this to my kids (7 of them, ages 13-1 1/2) they thought it was a great idea and wanted to go right to their rooms to clear out the stuff. I need to figure out what this will look like for the older kids though, they have less toys and more tools for their hobbies and projects. We want to encourage their growth and learning but these things too must be limited and kept under control.

  97. Toys and stuff are good, in moderation. As a mom and grandma, we adults know we have only ourselves to blame for this mess we have gotten ourselves into, also known as too many toys. My daughters, who had their share of toys, were not lacking in imagination or appreciation, nor did they have a case of the greedies when it came to toys. One toy came in, one toy went out, sometimes two. Simple. If you don’t buy it, or allow it to be given, it isn’t a problem. I controlled their toys. I am the mama. 🙂

    My daughter, who has my grandchildren, is a smart girl. She keeps most of their children’s toys, also known as the “stuff” in their living room, in neat bins and shelves, in a section dedicated to play. That way she monitors their play, she and her husband can interact and show them how to use their toysin both traditional and in new ways, but she can keep track of what they really need and what is wasteful. While it sure wouldn’t make the “cut” of these house beauty blogs, where do these play at, I wonder? I consider her to be one smart mama.

    I, personally, would have never went in and swiped their stuff from my girls rooms to teach them or show them, or force them into finding “joy outside” (we already had joy, we lived in the country 🙂 ), nor would it have made their imaginations any greater. My smart phone, my internet/computer, my blog surfing, television, etc.are not different than what our kids have. These mentioned things are our stress relievers and kids need theirs. No one is swiping my stuff. 🙂

    Again, each person has a way of doing what they think is best for them and their kids.

  98. thank you…loved this. thank you for sharing your life and your journey. now time for me to get rid of my “toys” that distract so much. 🙂

  99. A friend passed this article along to me because she thought I would appreciate it. And I do!

    I have a history or being a cluttered hoarder, and then got to a crisis point when I became so overwhelmed when my second baby was born, and turned to minimalism. How freeing! I’ve got rid of half our non-furniture possessions in the last two years, and want to halve the rest. If we don’t use it, we don’t need it.

    I’ve been getting rid of toys, too. My second baby is now 2 1/2, and I’ve got rid of a bucket full of baby/toddler toys that neither the first two kids played with in that time, so I figure my third child can live without them! And, because I want less toys for my kids, I don’t buy them any. They are quite satisfied with what they have, and I get quite stuck around birthdays and Christmas on what to buy them! I’m not restricting them at all, just rolling with the punches of what they want to do. Mostly, it doesn’t involve toys, and never really has.

    My next challenge: my third is a girl, after two boys. Does this mean all new toys? How do I convince the relatives (the source of most toys) that she doesn’t need a mountain of ‘girl’ toys, just a few dolls, because girls can play with lego too?

    ps. I’m not being at all hypocritical not buying stuff for my kids, or getting rid of stuff, because I started with my own things and it’s gone from there. I often involve my older boy in decluttering, because he’s old enough to understand.

  100. Love it.
    We have been doing something similar to your project simplify this year, and although I have been horrible at blogging about it, it has really shaken me to the core. As you mentioned above, you sometimes just want to buy more even though you are trying to get rid of things and live with less. That resonates with me. As we continue to “simplify”, I still continue to want and buy, but God(and my husband’s friendly reminders)are working, slowly but surely, to help me to be satisfied and content in less.
    I think I might just begin purging lots of toys before my children are old enough to know a difference!
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Jess Villmer

  101. I didn’t grow up with lots of toys (well, at least not as compared with kids today). My parents could have afforded to give us lots of playthings, but chose to keep things simple. Instead, my brother and I spent lots of time in the great out of doors playing in the fresh air and sunshine on good days or reading/drawing/creating on rainy/yucky days. I don’t feel that I missed out on “things” in the least little bit. We experienced things.

    Sometime last year I also rounded up all of my kids’ toys (minus favorite dolls and a few stuffed animals), stuck them in the attic and waited to see what happened. They were fine. They didn’t complain about not having toys, didn’t gripe, and have only occasionally mentioned that they’d like to have certain boxes down again so I let them play with them for a little while and then back up they go. They draw, make cards, make forts, swim, ride bikes, invent things, climb trees, listen to stories, read… When they want things now, they buy them with their own money. My daughter just bought an American Girl wannabe doll and my son bought an RC helicopter. They seem to take better care of the things they had to work to get.

  102. Don’t listen to the negative people. You are awesome!! I’ve dreamed of doing just this for years (kids are 6, 5, and 3.) but am really a hoarder at heart. I don’t think I can get rid of their stuff without getting rid of mine too, but their stuff is rarely used, if ever. I feel guilty whenever I get rid of their toys, especially because hubby and I both had moms who kept ALL of our childhood stuff, so a lot of my kids’ stuffed animals and toys were originally mine! I find myself getting them things I wished I had (The giant Barbie mansion!!) and they don’t play with them even. You inspire me to go through with what I want to do. Thank you.

  103. Perfect timing for me! I am participating in a biannual consignment event and I really think it’s time to say goodbye to 90% of my sons toys and a good part of his clothes. He is 28 months old and I am sure he will not even notice. I plan on keeping Duplos, his Schleich animals and his wooden train set (and perhaps some educational games and puzzles). With one more baby boy on the way and 800 square feet for 4 people it will be impossible to combat the mess and the constant incoming gifts from well meaning family. Also, his birthday is 6 days before Christmas so I am going to start encouraging family to only add to the few sets of toys he already has or just gift passes to the zoo or museum.Thanks for making our lives a little easier!

  104. BRAVO MOMMA! BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!! I have been in tears a LOT lately, not knowing what to do with my boys, who tear up all their toys, leave things strung out everywhere, have no shame when someone comes over and sees their mess…. This just may be the answer. I have tried so many techniques to no avail. Even tried incentives…. I am at my witts end, we are a family of 5 in a 1300 square foot home (our home is nice, but small), and I am very overwhelmed. I homeschool so I can spend more time with them, and have control over what they learn…. but I am at the point where I can’t do it anymore unless drastic changes are made. I still say BRAVO!!!

  105. I have been tempted many times to get rid of most of my child’s toys. As my significant other has pointed out numerous times,I am more upset about this than my child is. I did take away every single hot wheel (which was A LOT of cars) and it made a huge difference in the way my child acted. I’m not sure I could ever actually take them all away but I applaud you for doing this, especially if it has made a difference. I do make my child sort through his toys with me and make him get rid of stuff and that has helped tremendously with his organizational skills.

  106. I love that you did this! My girls have alot of toys and it drives me crazy when they make a mess and refuse to clean it up! I have started going through all of their stuff (toys,clothes, etc.) every 6 months and usually come out with a large garbage bag of stuff to go to good will. The girls seem pretty happy with the thought that their things are going to other little girls who are in need and quite often they will help choose the things to get rid of.

  107. Awesome! that’s great! Kids need to know that life is NOT about things! But mostly about things money can’t buy!

  108. I’m with you! I think it is an awesome idea and I would do it myself if I didn’t have a home preschool. I think that toys are a huge racket! I think they can limit a child’s creativity. Why can’t children play with real things? They have to have a “toy” this and “toy” that when there are real things all around to use and explore including the great outdoors! What better playground than nature, filled with “toys” children often beg to bring inside and play with? . I am saddened that you are being judged negatively for your parenting choices. In most places, not having any toys is the last thing that children are worried about. You obviously have happy healthy girls that are going to benefit from their mother’s care. So glad you shared your experience and your wisdom. Thank you!

  109. I am so sorry this article is getting so much hate ! Those people must have forgotten a time in the world where crime was lower than it is now because children were out playing instead of inside watching commercials filled with soft pornography and murder while their hands are in a Cheetos bag! THAT is bad parenting not what your doing getting your children to free their minds by freeing up their space. Bravo to you!!!! Raise your kiddos the organic way not the “commercial” way.

    1. What makes you think “this article is getting so much hate!”? The large majority of comments are in favor of this mother. Only a tiny fraction of people are giving it the “hate” you think it’s “getting so much” of. Look a little closer the next time around.

  110. I found this post on Pinterest. It interested me because a month ago my husband and I filled up 10 (ten!) trash bags of my daughters’ toys. I have never heard of anyone else doing this before. We didn’t take away everything there is still plenty for them to enjoy. The amount of stuff they had was overwhelming for them. Overwhelming in trying to figure out what to play with, overwhelming when it came time to clean, overwhelming in trying to find exactly what they wanted even though I tried hard to keep things organized. It has been a month and they haven’t even asked for anything back. The next step is going through the bags and throwing away the junk, donating some, and keeping a few items. Thank you for being brave enough to post this.

  111. I know my opinion is not more than that of a complete stranger that came across your post on Pinterest but I think we can always use encouraging words from anyone, especially on topics that are so controversial and that cause people to be mean and judgmental when you are only sharing what has worked for you.
    What a valuable lesson you are teaching your kids! We lost our baby boy last year when I was 37 weeks pregnant, that experience brought a great deal of teaching to our life among which was a very clear lesson on thankfulness for what we have, this led us to a real place of contentment in which things are not the center of our attention anymore (I’ve been working on getting rid of what we don’t need, trying hard not to buy more stuff, and learning how to make the best out of our little home putting more emphasis on who lives in it rather than how big it is) . In the material driven society we live in it’s hard to change the way you think and live but I think you are off to a great start with your girls and you are a great example for the rest of us that don’t have children yet but want to raise our kids to be content and thankful or have thought about it but haven’t had the courage (yet) to take radical measures even in our own life. Thanks for sharing!

  112. Thank you so much for doing what you did and having the courage to blog about it. I needed this today. A friend of mine repinned this on pinterest and I was intrigued. My husband took a garbage bag full of toys and his it in our closet a few months ago. Aside from 1-2 things that were in the bag, my girls didn’t even notice things were gone. They stumbled upon the bag a couple weeks ago and only then remembered about the things that were inside. I promptly hid the bag and they’ve already forgotten. I definitely need to do this on a grander scale. I love the idea of taking things away to encourage imagination. I am encouraged to hear that your girls attention spam increased. We definitely need that at our house!

  113. I don’t even know where to start. I LOVE that you shared this with the world & THANK YOU! It brought me to tears to see the way you took hold & changed your family’s life & gave your girls a glimpse of what family life should be like. My kids CRY when I ask them to clean their rooms everyday & to give them a chance to ENJOY life & not have to fear cleaning up their rooms, this is exactly the wisdom I needed to find today as I tackle a room that looks like a toy/clothing monster threw up. I cry when I clean it, hahaha. So, thank you. If others are putting you down & telling you this was crazy & mean, it’s only because they haven’t come to see what real love for your children & their life truly is & how to accomplish it. They too are still slaves to the toys. So, thank you……

  114. I am so glad it worked out for you!!! My mom got fed up with me keeping my room a mess, and took all of my toys away too! And I still managed to keep a messy room!!! God bless my mother. Hooray for you! 🙂

  115. Thank you so much! After reading all the comments, the majority of them are very positive, I am convinced that so many of us mothers have become overwhelmed with the rampant consumerism that dominated our society this generation. So many of us are at that breaking point and many are coming to the same conclusion as you. Less truly is more. I’m a homeschooling mother of 5 (ages 7, 6, 4, 3, and 1) and we’ve cut down the kids toys, books, and clothes by 50% this year. There’s still more that needs to go. I just finished reading a book on this topic, called Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne. It goes much further than just simplifying the toys, however. He talks about simplifying every aspect of a child’s environment, including: toys, books, general household clutter, clothes, even things like excess lights and sounds, or even foods that can cause sensory overload. He discusses establishing rhythms, routines, and rituals, simplifying children’s schedules, and cutting way back on media. It was an eye-opening book, and I wished I could wave my magic wand and simplify my life that much over night. We’re working on it though, slowly but surely.

  116. Just wanted to throw my two cents in even though this post was written a while ago! My mother did the same thing for me when I was young. I had a habit of leaving toys out and I believe she did it more for my dad at the time, but she threw most of my stuff in as big plastic bag one day and tossed it all in the garage. I think people don’t realize how addicted to stuff we have become. I find that today I have far less attachment to junk now because of this and it has helped me in my life much more. I was more willing to be frugal in my college years, which saved me from even more debt on top of my school loans, I only just this past year purchased my first car which is saying something for someone in their 20s. My hubby and I had a small wedding that cost less than 1000 dollars, and now that I am working I can apply most of our excess income to paying off all those student loans. Not feeling so tied to things, I find that we can move much more easily if we ever have to and that having guests over is much easier cause there is less to clean up. I plan on getting debt free in 5 to 6 years! We are also expecting our first baby this year and we already are prepared for me to go on maternity leave without stress or money worries (aside from tiny newborn ones lol). Any way, I have short of rambled a bit but I thought you would like to hear from someone else that it doesn’t hurt your kids if they have less. It might even be the best thing yet for them.

    1. I was wondering the same. I feel like even though we always say the kids would like funding for an activity they love, everyone (almost) just ignores it and just buys stuff.

  117. I loved this article! My husband and I would definitely consider doing something like this in our home. I’m so tired of hearing, “Can I have…? Will you buy…?”

  118. I agree that too many toys are bad. I also agree that kids’ rooms should have toy clean-outs. But I don’t agree that parents should be in charge of it.

    Every so often, my dad used to tell me and my three siblings we could clean our room and fill up bags with toys & clothes we didn’t want anymore. We’d do it willingly. We still had toys and stuff in our room after that. I liked it that way. I really don’t like the whole… can’t have more than one to two toys at a time though. Storage for toys sounds great, but I think a limit on how many toys one can play with would really have stifled my creativity as a kid. Don’t get me wrong – I developed a passion for drawing and writing when I was a kid (around 3rd grade) and those were great for my creativity 🙂 But the whole doll-house thing kind of gave me that initial love for story-making, so I owe a lot to having dolls and using tons of them at a time with my sister (we liked complex stories. Which sometimes meant tons of characters. In fact, we even filmed “movie” featuring several plush toys as characters).

    I also don’t agree about the… keeping more good quality toys than cheap ones. I had some quality toys, but for the most part, my parents were never rich – haha. When it came down to it though, the cheap ones were just as fun as the more expensive ones. We never had male dolls or Kens (XD) so we ended up using our creativity and cutting a girl Barbie’s hair once to include a male character in our doll house stories 😛 I feel like that kind of stuff made us appreciate what we had, and less likely to spend more money on stuff just because it’s cooler, new, trending, etc. For example, I have a TracFone and I actually prefer it to an iPhone 5 or 5 billion-whatever it is now 😀

    All in all, I feel like there just needs to be a balance. Don’t give everything, nor take away everything. I feel like as long as you encourage stuff besides toys routinely, you don’t have to set limits with toy playing 🙂

  119. I’d hug you, then give you a high-five with a “hell yeah!” if I could 🙂 Over the last year I’ve dramatically downsized the amount of “stuff” we own (between my one year old and I), and can proudly say I could pack it all up into our car if I had to. I get this. I get the why. I get the results. And couldn’t support it more. This topi hits a hot spot with people because it’s become unknown in our little society what it even really means to be spoiled. being spoiled has become so normal, we don’t recognize it anymore, or the results it has on kids.

    We’ll be downsizing even MORE soon (building a 120 square foot house, not much choice, ay?) and frankly, am looking forward to the stress relief 😉

  120. Keeping the clutter out of the house is never-ending. As it is, we live on a very tight budget and that keeps me from overspending on things we don’t need. But I think it’s time to go through my kids’ stuff again. They don’t have that many toys and I do regularly throw out the broken ones, so maybe I just need to get them a little more organized.
    Some time in the next year we will be moving countries. I’ve warned my kids in advance that many of the toys they have now won’t be coming with us and that they will only keep a few favorites.

  121. Wow! I totally love this! I have been to houses, mine included sometimes,where the kids stuff takes over. It is more important to have relationships with people than with things. I prefer experiences to stuff. We like to reward our son with a trip to the zoo or the park instead of a toy… But let’s face it, giving a toy is easier. When grandparents want to give gifts, we encourage a membership to the children’s museum or a contributuon the college savings account. It is so refreshing to see this perspective. I hope it catches on!

  122. So awesome and encouraging. I have done this to an extent, but I’m starting to realize I need to “take away” some of my crap too. I just love this! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m excited to look through the rest of your blog.

  123. And some day your kids will grow up to be productive individuals that are still in touch with reality. Research would heavily agree with you. Kids need to play pretend, and entertain themselves, not be entertained. We are having a yard sale in June and almost every thing will be in it. My eye opening moment was when my 5 year old (when asked what she wanted for her Birthday) said “mommy I don’t want any presents, if I get presents it will just be more for me to clean in my room.” To be honest my kids never even play with their toys, they pull them out looking for a specific item, but about 97% are just over flow. They are going to spend a week before the sale condensing down to one small toy bin each. When there are a ton of toys the kids get to over whelmed to play with them any way, and my kids would rather run around the back yard.

  124. I appreciate what you did! I remember when I used to have one doll to play with and used to expend all afternoon playing outside with my cousins eating fruit off the trees. I am doing the same!!!Thank you for the post!

  125. I enjoyed this post very much and when I was growing up things were tight and a little rough but it made me appreciate my family more. As I got older it was hard to see how many of my friends did have a relationship with there family or an appreciation for the things around them. Taking away the toys they don’t play with isn’t cruel, it’s a way of purging social expectations and getting back to basics, love, family, friends, and a healthy dose of imagination. I wouldn’t be surprised if taking away their toys helped them become better problem solvers, most people give up once they realize there isn’t a quick fix they can buy. Keep up the great work, you say you are a perfect mother but your imperfections are important and they make you real and let your daughters have a realistic self image, so I say keep on truckin momma bear!

  126. I love this. I watch my nephew who is two and we have very little toys and the couple times a week he comes over he seems to have enough. As I form habits with my nephew I wonder how different it would be with my own kids one day when they are home with me everyday. I like to think, with your example in mind, that we do not need a lot. I too am so much like you, craving a simple and cluttered life yet deep within me still have a love affair with stuff. This is an inspiring read and I appreciate you sharing it despite any sort of disagreement or misunderstanding that others have felt. It is so opposite of what culture is today in families and we need sometimes what appears to be an extreme scenario to snap out of it. I am inspired and encouraged!

  127. At first I was thinking oh no what kind of crazy stuff have I stumbled into until I read the whole post. 😉 I admire your courage and your reasoning. I know it is very hard to get rid of stuff (I personally have a REALLY hard time of this) I bet my kids would be fine if I did it too. In fact I am going to follow your example and get rid of a few more toys than I usually would. Thanks for giving me the courage to try it!

  128. You did something that a lot of parents just cannot wrap their minds around. Doesn’t more _________ equal more happiness? I am in the purging process myself and I am having a harder time letting go of the junk than my kids are. I’m loving your blog & your mothering style….keep up the good work!

  129. THANK YOU. Your post is a call to action for me. I just gave it to my 11 year old daughter to read, and she loved the ideas. We are going to start by making a list of “what makes us happy” (our own idea) – and go from there. My hope is not to get rid of everything; but to only keep those things that truly add JOY to our lives. ALL of us will need to do a lot of “clearing out.” I hope this is the beginning of an amazing change for our family.

  130. I think what you did for your two BEAUTIFUL GIRLS was incredible. I wish I could do that, how you have teached them to test their creativity, and to play with one another so close.To teach them that sisterhood bond that never goes away. I personally think you are a great person and a wonderful mother. And I just found your blog about an hour ago. 🙂

  131. That’s very brave, but I totally understand where you are coming from. Not many parents could take toys away in order to help kids develop their imagination. I do admire you for what you did!

  132. Wow! I really needed to see this! This week I went through a similar situation. I asked my children many times to pick up thier dress up clothes, I encouraged them, I remained calm and I warned them of the consequence if they didn’t clean up their toys. After nearly an hour of them continuing to ignore me and makeing the mess bigger, I finally calmly sent them each to their step (that is where they go for “time out” or “thinking about what they have done”) then I walked downstairs and grabbed one garbage bag, and filled it with every toy that was still not put away. Then I took the bag and walked out to the garage. I came and let it sink in. They cried, a lot, it was sad and so hard for me to see them that way. I did not actually dispose of the toys, but set the aside for me to think about what I had done and how I was going to handle it. They believe the toys are gone forever because I said nothing. I have seriously contemplated doing exactly what you have done so many times. We are a family of 5, in a small home and I loath clutter. I feel like the house is always trashed and they can’t seem to keep it all picked up. I also organize, clean, ect all the time to try and control the chaos, but it isn’t enough. The problem is simple, we have too much. I just feel so guilty getting rid of it. I feel that most of the items are gifts and loved many of the reasons you listed, but at the same time I sometimes feel like my sanity is at risk because of the stuff. And I hate that they seem to act like they are entitled and always ask for more.

  133. This is a great thing for me to read now. I am pregnant with our first child and this baby will have 6 Aunts and 10 uncles (only one of those is married so far), not to mention great aunts and uncles, grandparents, great grandparents, etc… this post is a reminder that I will need to prepare for boatloads of stuff. It hadnt even occured to me yet because I am the type of person that buys educational or useful things, we have given our niece coloring books and clothes, never toys. I rarely gift toys to any child unless theres a specific reason for the toy. I believe some toys can be good for a child, especially when they are younger. For example, I think every toddler should have a baby doll and plain wooden blocks, to be honest they probably dont need anything else.
    While I agree with some that you may have been a little extreme in the moment, the long term results seem to have worked out very well and I admire the fact that you stuck with your decision.
    Thank you for this post.

  134. I know you have gotten far too many comments already, I am guilty of not knowing you either, just this post from pinterest (a true addiction for me ;)), but I so connect with this! from the insights you recieved through your children to how you fill the voids through “things”. I’m not sure exactly where that idea came to ME from, but it is something I’m working on regularly. I’ve taken the children’s toys away and put them in the attic and am always amazed at how little, if at all, they miss them. My mistake is keeping them in the attic and not getting rid of them…in writing this, I have gained some inspiration and will be acting on it. You will probably not find anything about it on my public blog, but if you’re interested, you may check periodically on my family blog. http://mommybug-ibshell.blogspot.com
    p.s. New follower! 😉

  135. Hello Ruth. I have been meaning to read this blog post for some time now. Actually reading I can’t imagine why people feel that is a bad decision. My husband and I have been talking about not having big “Christmases” or bombarding our (future) children with toys. I was the child who always had my way and never truly learned the value of money earned or had respect or value for the toys others bought me. I always had the mindset that if it broke I would just ask for a new one and would get it. My husband and I have also talked about the importance of being able to live a simple life and for our children to be able to use their imaginations or spend time using their creativity. My husband and I even made a rule for ourselves this past Christmas to only buy each other one gift and it was great because we really tried hard to make it special and meaningful and not some inexpensive or useless item. I have to say that I agree with your decision and this is something that my husband and I will be doing with ourselves and with our child from a young age. Thank you so much for not living by the world, but by loving your children enough to help them break the cycle this world, including myself, have fallen into.

  136. Wow this is exactly what i have been thinking for the past couple of months. Im glad to see that other people notice the problems of consumerism that plagues our society. my wife who just posted above me stated that when our daughter comes we will do exactly what you did. we have already talked about implementing a one present Christmas and limiting our child’s toy collection to just one. of course education stuff is different. i want to teach my child a sense of responsibility and contentedness. this blog was a great encouragement to me that tells me that there are other people out there who agree with my thinking. Im just curious how things are still going?

  137. I don’t have any kids, I was an only child with toys that would make an entire orphanage happy…..I have thought about this because I see the “gim’ me, gim’ me” attitude in myself and…well everyone. I never thought about “no toys” but definitely less toys and toys that have meaning. This was a great article.

    Iris♥ @ The BlueBirdhouse

  138. I loved your article! To answer your question about getting rid of toys, I have tried to box them up and rotate them. Eventually the system falls apart. Every. Time. They lose half the toys I bring out for the day, and the next day they lose half that day’s toys. Soon there’s 100 toys under every bed, we’re stepping on shapes that are always STARS, our 14 month old is bruised from head to toe tripping on toys, etc. I’ve even purged toys. Doesn’t help. Grandparents buy more!

    My MIL just bought a ladybug toy with shapes on it. I’m thinking, “OK. One big toy, hard to lose, plays music.” Then she hits a button and one toy breaks apart into 7! “FUDGE.” My mom gets my oldest an Elmo cash register. It has money so it isn’t one toy, it’s 5! We have dozens of balls from dozens of toys everywhere. Most of the ladybug’s shapes are missing. Just stepped on its triangle as a matter of fact. Luckily I found all the play money and rigged that register to not open.

    I’m getting rid of stuff today. I’ve already got half their stuffed animals bagged for a yard sale. I’m going through plastic toys next. I cleared the living room and locked all the toys in a bedroom a little while ago. Now my girls are running in circles laughing their heads off. Getting rid of things is the best idea ever, but I’ve been doing that with me for a long time. I got an mp3 player and sold every last one of my CD’s. I have a Nook, got digital files of my library, and sold all of my books. I love my music and books, but hate clutter. =)

    We have nothing outside for them so I have been wanting a small swing set. I’m thinking sell the toys to help fund that. Less clutter indoors, burning off energy outdoors. Win-win!

    1. Love it, that is exactly how I feel. Of we buy this one kitchen set…..which is actually 100 pieces……ahhhhhhh. I have been wanting to purge toys, as well as our stuff. I am just as guilty as my husband of having a hard time letting go. We have well over 200 movies but yet we only watch 50 of them so why can I not get rid of them??? I am glad to see I am not the only mom that feels this way. We could use the money to pay down debt, or save it for a big trip, or…….the options are endless.

  139. This is similar to what I’ve been thinking about doing but just been too busy to take the plunge! This summer we’re going to start “purging” room by room to get rid of excess stuff & I’m going to commit to only buying what we NEED not what we WANT!

  140. I LOVED this post!! We did the same thing about 6 months ago. I was sick with strep and Daddy had had about enough of the kids’ messes. So he went with them thru all their junk and got rid of about 50% of their stuff. It was great! We need to do it again. The problem is the grandparents who give the kids whatever they want. We got rid of our TV in an effort to watch less. So…they bought us a new one. Even after we explained our reasons. Now they’re angry with us for declining their offer to pay private school tuition – because we want to homeschool. Sigh….I’m grateful for their generosity, but sometimes I wish they’d button out.

  141. A friend of mine posted this on facebook. As I started to read I thought “No way! I couldn’t do that! They need those toys, and I need my sanity…It wouldn’t work on my kids”.
    Then I kept reading, and I had to be honest with myself. I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time, but hubby doesn’t, and I’m too scared. But truth be told, we have done it before. Never thrown it out, but cleaned their rooms out so completely into trash bags and tossed in the garage. Slowly we’d give things back.
    So, thank you for your experience. I know I need to just do it. I often let my own sentimental attachments to things get in the way of getting rid of it.

  142. I have an almost 2 year old who is spoiled so much so that he wont talk much. I’m on my phone a good majority of the time and love to buy things that I’ll never use (confession) I’m also pregnant with our second baby. Due May 28th. I know I’m about to get a whole bunch of stuff that will help with the clutter. With my son being so young he wont notice what hes missing I could also give him clothes and stuff as gifts instead of things that he’ll just get tired of! Thanks for the post!


  143. Thank you so much for this article..It really opened my eyes. I told my husband when we have children that we will only buy them things they need…and only few toys at christmas. Life is so much more than toys and materialistic things.

  144. I saw this post on Pinterest and thought I need to read this because I am curious as to why.
    I often threaten my 2 daughters 3 and 4 I will through away toys, but yet I never do. I have bins of toys over flowing that are broken, not all the pieces are together, lost, I played with etc. but when I stop and actually watch what my kids play with is puzzles, books, colors and coloring books or they like to be on the clean for wrestling. So why can I not let go? Is it because I am afraid of the memories they will loose out on? Will I feel like a bad mom because they do not have a lot of toys? Maybe a combination of everything. But at the same time I am tired of tripping over toys, yelling at them to pick up, looking at unplayed with things, hearing the fights over she won’t share, or she took it away, when is it my turn…….. When I was growing up we had very few toys, we were always outside playing or in the house playing hide and go seek, or tag, building forts with pillows and chairs. It is amazing at how consumeristic we have become, at how we have to have more than our neighbor. .
    I struggle with keeping our house clean my husband works part time and is in school full time, I work part and our house is often a dumping ground because we are always going somewhere or we get home in time for dinner than it is bath and bed, things just kind of pile up. I want a simplified uncluttered happy home, not a stuff filled fighting home.
    I admire your example and lesson in showing us that it is ok to get rid of toys and that our kids will be ok, if not better off. I bet your house is a lot cleaner now without all the toys everywhere
    Thank you. You are amazing.

  145. I did something similar with my son. We weren’t upset about anything and there was no anger involved. I got 10 postit notes and told him to pick the 10 toys he wanted to keep and put a postit on each one. The rest would be donated. He didn’t have a problem with it because he was in control of what got kept. It made keeping his room clean much easier. Unfortunately that didn’t last long because grandparents were not exactly on the same page. I may just need to make it a yearly event at the beginning of summer.

  146. Hi! I am just curious – what do you do with gifts that your children receive at birthdays and stuff? And where are you and your husband putting your things? Goodwill? Selling them? Just curious! I love reading all that you have learned from this experience!

  147. This is inspiring. I just discovered your blog, I too am in a quest to simplify life. We got rid of a bunch of media time wasters and downsized to one box of toys. The toys are also confined to one room, I love it. My question for you is, we hardly if ever buy toys for our kids (we have 3 under the age of 5) but stuff keeps coming into our home via well meaning relatives for birthdays and Christmas… I’ve thought about donating those toys but how do you deal with that situation without offending the giver?

    1. That’s a tricky thing, all right, because expecting a gift is crass, but presuming to dictate what a giver will give is a violation of both good manners and good taste, so it’s not a thing you want to teach your children that it’s all right to do. Ime all you can do is explain your reasons and hope for the best — although sometimes an agreement can be reached that gifts for children are either something the whole family can use, like a game, or an outing to somewhere. But you’re in charge in your own home, so you can make it a rule in your home that if something comes in, something’s got to go out, which will help keep things down to a dull roar.
      My ds only had twelve toys at any one time, stuffed animals, movies, etc. included. (There was no limit on books as long as they were books that were actually being re-read.) If something came in, something had to go out. So he never had enough stuff to fill one garbage bag, never mind multiples. (I’m having trouble imagining a kid’s room that contains enough to fill six garbage bags, as someone mentioned earlier.)
      He didn’t have a problem with the limit, just accepted it as a ‘that’s the way it is in our family’. Mind you, I didn’t tell him to do what I said, not what I did: I downsized my own things before I set limits on his.

  148. I love this post! You”re not a perfect mom but you”re a loving mom that only wants the best for her kids. Great job! And your kids are already being grateful for what you”re doing for them, I mean what else can you ask for in life. I hope I remember this post when I have my kids.

  149. Thank you for this post. I think I might just do something similar. Our playroom stays clean for about ten minutes. How can a room be fun if it is so full of toys that there’s no room to play? How can it be fun when it takes more time to clean up than you get to spend playing? I really think taking out most of the toys and shelves and leaving a nice large area to play would make all the difference. I love that your kids noticed that they were happier with less things to take care of. I think my kids might agree!

  150. I applaud you! Just this morning standing in my 11 year old son’s room I felt the overwhelming urge to take everything away. It was not out of anger that this urge grew but from a place of wanting less distraction in his world. I, like you, wanted to undo the wrongs I felt were done to me as a child. I wanted him to have the latest toy, game, action figure, Hotwheel set or what have you. Now he is 11 years old with 5 over-sized storage binds for toy boxes. It is time to take a stand – I must remove the toys. I must paint his room. I must take down the dino curtains. I must remove the city map floor rug. I must remove the hanging teddy bear hammock. It is time! He constantly asks for more stuff while at the same time he can hardly find items he happens to be looking for from time to time. I see a glimpse of a lack of appreciation and a air of entitlement and I do not like it a bit. I created a spoiled “I want” monster and it is time to take the reigns and change courses. Thank you. I needed to read this post today. I has been a blessing.

  151. I think this blog post is fantastic and I haven’t read more about you and your family. It is clear you know your children well enough to know whether or not they would be able to handle something like this and I agree that kids do not need every single toy on the market in order to be happy. With fewer, minimalistic type toys, imaginations grow and children can, like you said, develop a longer attention span. Getting children interesting in reading while they are young is invaluable for future education (if they want to go to college.) Being able to occupy yourself or maybe one other person without being constantly stimulated by external factors is excellent! It gives parents freedom to do things like banking, grocery shopping, going to the doctor with their kids and not having boredom induced melt-downs in aisle three. I think you made a wise choice, here, especially since it is clear you are a hands-on mom who takes a deep interest in the lives of your kids and spends a lot of time with them. I do not have children yet, and I know mine will be different from yours, but I hope to be able to instill some of the aforementioned qualities in my tots! Best wishes to you!

  152. I loved this post. Thank you. I am sorry for any hurtful comments you may have incurred because of your honesty. I remember when my girls were smaller and we would go through the pick up your toys routine. If I told them over the course of several days & I kept stepping over the same toys , outside of their rooms, eventually I would pick them up and throw them away. To this day they remember it. My kids had dolls stacked in the closet unopened. Now that I have a son& we have much less, I just put things away for several days. I love the experience gifts. That is so awesome. Especially with the older kids. I must teach my kids to love people, not things. P.S don’t you think that sometimes it is the disciplined behaviors that help us to allow God to change our hearts. I thank you for the post.

  153. I can totally relate to this blog entry! The difference however, is that I decided to get rid of many of my own belongings instead of my sons. He was already in his late teens and I had to make a change for myself before I felt I could force him to change. Although my decision was made practically overnight, implementing this particular change has been ongoing and likely always will be. Out of the blue one day, I suddenly felt as though I had lost sight of what was really important to me. I looked at all of the designer clothes, expensive knick knacks and junk that I had sitting around me and wondered what good all of these items were doing me. I had spent an extraordinary amount of money on ‘things’, yet my life didn’t seem to be any more complete than it was prior to making these purchases. It has taken me awhile to let go but, I have made considerable progress. (I do have trouble letting go of my designer shoes but I am working on it!) My son is 18 now so I cannot change his behavior (though I hope my example has had an impact) but, I have a 1 yr old and a 2 yr old who will be growing up with fewer material things yet hopefully more appreciation for the things that truly matter. Thank you for sharing this personal experience with us. Many of us realize that this was done in love and it seems as though your children are better off for it. I am certainly better off for making the same decision. <3

  154. I came to this page from looking at a post about how to clean your home quickly, and this article caught my eye. Maybe I am of a newer generation of thinkers who want to go back to a simpler way of life, but I too have been minimizing things in my home. Regardless of this, I was a child who had all of my toys taken away. I just want to back you up, Ruth. My mother taking my toys and throwing away the television was the single best thing that ever happened to me in my life (though I didn’t think that then as I was older- seven years old is enough time to get accustomed to television.) Because she did that I began voraciously reading and had a post-collegiate reading level before I entered high school. I found a passion for art that may have otherwise been hidden. And I became a very active kid since I had to go play outside more often. Its a good thing to go back to a simpler way of life. And remember– You are the parent, not their friend. You will do what is best for them regardless of their opinion. When they are adults they can choose for themselves. Kudos Ruth! Its good to have a new generation who will not be so consumeristic. I hope to follow in your footsteps.

  155. An interesting read. Not something I think I would do. That being said I do however think I may do something similar, like my own mother did should the need arise. When she was left with a disobedient child with too many things and no desire to pick them up and care for her belongs my mother simply came in with trash bags and everything went. The room was left with linens on the bed and furniture, nothing else remained, not even clothes in the dresser or closet. For what felt like an eternity (which I’m sure was only a week or two) all clothing was doled out in the morning. Eventually I, the ungrateful child learned my toys and belongings hadn’t been sent to the dump but were hidden away and I earned them back. Also every year before Christmas we cleaned out the excess to make room for the new. I did learn a valuable lesson that was on occasion needed to be repeated since I was also incredibly stubborn, but I did learn to value my things. It’s a lesson that has always stayed with me and while I admit to having way more then I need and hating to part with anything, I do value what have much more than some of those I’ve seen around me.

  156. Your blog is addicting to me as Pinterest, where I in fact found it. This is coming from a perfect stranger and may sound strange, but I am proud of you for many reasons. Firstly for your personal story of you early years. May you continue to work through those issues and with the Grace of God feel good and free. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. Secondly, your shopping tricks and tips are stellar. We live in Canada and often I am envious of the deals we find when traveling south of the border. Having said that, I tend to overbuy when we are on holiday because I can’t pass it up. That whole situation is quite ridiculous. So thanks for giving me some great tips. Lastly, kudos to you for simplifying your life and your girl’s life. We travel a lot and have learned that we can live out of one suitcase each for a year away. Then when we come home we are bombarded by “stuff”. And it is such a struggle to get my turkeys to clean their rooms with all that stuff. The get distracted and play, who can blame them? I am going to tackle their rooms this weekend which is a long weekend up here. Thank you for that encouragement and I believe you are right in that they aren’t suffering, they are now experiencing life as it should be.
    I will now be following your blog and following your suggestions.
    Have a wonderful summer, and thank you again. You have been a cyber-angel for me.

  157. Thanks so much for this post! I am getting ready to have my first baby here in July and I am so happy that I can start to create a different environment for my children, and they won’t notice a difference at all. So many people commented with great ideas and I’m excited to implement them! I strongly believe that children will be so much happier and context in life if THE FAMILY and family time is the number 1 priority. Nothing can replace the love that they feel from a family!

  158. Wow!!! I love this! I have felt like my girls have had too many toys for a while now and even went as far as limiting their Christmas this past year to one large item that they use frequently and necessities like hygiene products and school supplies. I will start homeschooling my girls soon and feel even more that they have too many things, most that they don’t even use. I will begin slowly purging through all of our items, clothes and toys mostly because those are what we have the most excess of. Thank you for helping me know that my kids will not only be okay, but will probably thrive with less things!

  159. THANK YOU for this post. Seriously–I stumbled upon your blog through Pinterest and I can’t wait to get to know you and your family more through your posts. I’m hoping to purge my home this summer because we have too much “stuff” that isn’t important.

    I hope to see the changes in my children that you have seen in yours. Congrats on a spur-of-the-moment decision that was well-made!!

  160. This was a great post! We have a semi-finished basement that we turned into a play room. We boxed up all the ‘little junk toys’, and kept a few items–puzzles, board games, dress up items, a dollhouse with accessories in a box on a shelf out of reach, limited stuffed animals to a few that fit on each child’s bed, legos and a box of building blocks. Minus the stuffed animals, all of these are in the basement with no clutter, many things only in reach of an adult. Our kids’ rooms are completely toy free. They have books and that’s it. My daughter had no books for a while, but she showed that she could clean them up and she had them returned. It’s wonderful! Like you, we kept some things, but they get one at a time and the rest of the time they’re doing art projects, reading or using their imaginations for role play type games. Not a lot has changed because we never had electronics, but the mess is gone. I completely understand your impulse! It’s certainly not about depriving children, it’s about having a healthy balance and teaching them to live intentionally. Great to hear that you extended your process to include you and your husband! My husband has no problem, but I have a family who continues to shower me with gifts on a regular basis, even at age 35–kitchen stuff, tools we don’t need, clothes, books, home decorating items….it’s overwhelming and I really can’t stop them and it’s hard to move things on that they look for when they visit. Working on it, though!

  161. You do all know that this only works if your child isn’t acutely aware of being poor, right? For actual, very poor children it really hurts. A lot. For upper class kids: remember to explain to them that, world over, having just one special toy is Normal.
    I think that if you called it a “one toy policy” (you’re letting them keep their favourite stuffed animal, so that seems closer, anyway) people wouldn’t freak out so much.
    WARNING to parents of INFANTS and TODDLERS: 24-30 months and under children use toys to develop important skills regarding dexterity, coordination, self entertaining, imagination, and problem solving. Of course, they will also be content to do this with sticks or pots and pans, but I find the clean up much easier with toys.

  162. I just found this through a friends Pinterest, and I loved it. I completely agree with you. My 8 year old daughter has enough barbies, dolls, stuffed animals, journals, etc., she could entertain a country of children. It’s really sad. My two boys are the same. So much stuff. But it’s not just toys and books, it’s also clothes. Ever since my children were infants, they have had more clothes than they could possibly wear. Within the last few months, I have decided to start downsizing. Major. I started with my closet. I am working my way to my kids toys. This post has given me more hope to finish because it can get discouraging, plus sometimes I feel like I’m doing my children an injustice by not swallowing them in toys. Thank you!

  163. I have been very frustrated at times with the clutter and the mess that my children made when they were small, but in the end I realized I would rather have the clutter and the mess than have them gone. And they will be gone one day and suddenly you realize how unimportant the mess and the clutter really is. I am so sorry that you haven’t realized this yet and also sorry for you when you do realize. It will be a sad day, children are so much more important than a clean house.

    1. Cindy, I think you’ve missed the point and spirit of this blog post. Ruth’s frustration was not with the clutter her children created. Her great concern was the lack of contentment her children were displaying. Having things creates a desire for more things. Read through the post, again, and you will see that she and her husband discussed this discontentment for hours. It was the clutter and lack of responsibility toward the toys that was the catalyst for removing the toys. The things were not removed to have a clean house, the things were removed to change a greedy heart attitude.

  164. I very much enjoyed this article and it’s very sad to see so many people upset w/the prospect of taking your children’s toys away. It just proves that we are a consumer-driven society. Life is about more (SO much more) than possessions, not about more more possessions. I’ve read this lovely article about children around the world and their toys: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/children-world-show-favorite-toys-article-1.1310055

    Some children only have one item or two and I’m sure it doesn’t affect them in some huge, horrible adverse way. I know that my husband and I will try to teach our children what you’ve taught yours. To find happiness in the world and within themselves, not in cheap plastic, frivolous things.

  165. I really don’t know you, nor have I read your blog. I do have to say you are right there are many ” distractions” in this world. And if we don’t get a hold of them, they will get out of control. I personally see this next germeration not caring about people at all with all the tech. Stuff . We don’t have to care what others think, or say cause we can delete their comments and as far as seeing them, we’ll we have FaceTime for that.
    More importantly with all these ” distractions” then they become idols in our lives which then pushes us further away from God.
    I too have gone that fed up with too many distractions and so I need to get rid of such and such. Then it amazes me is that new distractions will come play, and then more idols will want to come . So where does it stop? By putting God first! So kudos to you by living simple, and having more!

  166. Our family has gone through a purging process as well, and find we are so much happier with our limited possessions. We are a family of 12 that live in an RV, traveling, by choice. My children have very limited toys with them. We limit gifts for birthday/Christmas, and prefer experiences (go karts or zoo visit) or consumables (art kits) instead of ‘things’. Life is much simpler when you own your possessions instead of your possessions owning you…

  167. Ruth,
    I truly think what you’ve done is excellent. I have many times wanted to do this myself, but I stop because of fear. Fear I will scar them, just like you said. I, myself, need to purge and get rid of but I think I may need or use that someday. Honestly, because I am too attached to stuff. I was also a very discontent kid and still have a lot of moments where I feel discontentment and I’m seeing it in my oldest daughter and I don’t like it. I commend you for what you’ve done!

  168. #projectsimplify365: After spending many hours on Sat. and Sun. cleaning and reorganizing the stuff in their room, I was at the end of my rope. Today I read this and it clicked. I am thrifty by nature and we NEVER impulse buy. I thought we were relatively streamlined for a family of 7 but after wasting the whole weekend I realized I was wrong. We prayed together before we purged and wouldn’t you know it our devotional was also about discontentment today.

    The girls admitted they were tired of wasting so much time fighting, organizing, cleaning and searching for stuff. We just did it…and our 3 oldest girls 11, 8, 7… actually said they felt and I quote, “Happy, lighter, less stressed, and excited!”

    75% of what they had is now in 6 large garbage bags ready to donate. Also purged a ton of clothes and some toys from our two baby girls 2 and 6 months (all the electronic stuff had to go)

    I feel lighter too! They cleaned up their “mess” after playing today and it only took 5 mins as opposed to 1-2 hours. What is even better, a small but powerful miracle, they got along for the entire remainder of the day without fighting even once! I know what works for us may not be right for everyone but this has already proven to be a good choice for our family. Thank you for this article, my daughters thank you as well for the quality time they can enjoy together now!
    Veronica Shelton Matthew Walk Joyce Leigh Jamie Flood Sury Fabré Linda Medina

  169. I love this post because I also got rid of all the toys in our home. I am a homeschooling mother to 7 kids aged 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, and 1. I did keep games, puzzles, and legos. I also let them keep 1 toy each that is special. If they get new toys from family or friends at birthdays or holidays(even though we request that they don’t) we let them trade the old toy in or keep the one they have. The rest go to goodwill. I don’t have room or time for the clutter, and they are just as happy without them. We have an acre with a garden and animals for them to run and learn and play. They can build things, ride bikes, run wild in the sunshine. They don’t need crappy toys that break apart and cause a mess and a fight. This country is obsessed with stuff. It is quite sad and ridiculous. We are bombarded at every single angle with commercials that tell us we need more stuff. I love this article. I really love your blog! Keep up the good work. Don’t listen to one person who tells you this is wrong. It isn’t. They are likely so caught up in consumerism and materialism that they can’t see the forest for the trees. 🙂

  170. This is a great concept and a great post, no one should criticize you I completely understand… and Im about to do the same thing to my 3 year old… as she is acting like your older daughter was, appreciates nothing and wants everything.. let the toy purge commence.. thanks!

  171. Thank you for your post. Thank you for your openness, your honesty, and your realization that our problems run quite deep.
    I spent years as a shopaholic without the real income to support my addiction. I hid my purchases from my (now ex- ) husband, and he enabled me by pretending not to see the items I thought I’d hidden so well from him. I know now it was a sign of my depression, which was due in part to his depression and lack of ability to admit to it.

    Now that I am happily remarried, and no longer battling the same demons, I don’t have this issue AT ALL. It’s so weird. But our kids definitely have too much stuff, and I periodically purge about half of it. I find the simplest moments with our kids are the best moments, and the kids behave better in those simpler moments, as do I.

  172. Wow! That took some courage! I admire your will and determination to do it. I have struggled so much with the same thing. I love my kids more than anything and they have been so blessed to have so many loving people who show them that love by buying them a ton of toys and stuffed animals. But, it is soooo overwhelming. I would LOVE to clear out so many toys, like you did. However, part of the problem is me. Every time I go into their playroom to start getting rid of toys, I start feeling bad because of the people who gave them those toys so lovingly. I think “oh, no, I can’t get rid of that because so-and-so gave them that and it would hurt their feelings if they came and saw it was gone” or “even though they don’t play much with that, they only got it a year ago and the person who gave it to them would be hurt if I got rid of it”. So, I have a question, Ruth. How did you deal with that? How did you overcome the feeling of potentially hurting someone who had given them toys out of love? And, also, when birthdays and other holidays come around, how do you keep the new toy presents to a minimum? Thanks for the good article! Hopefully I can find the willpower to implement at least some aspects of it in our home.

  173. Ruth,
    I came across your blog by searching for Garage Sale Tips on Pinterest. I cannot tell you how much your personal story has connected with me. I realize I am addicted to shopping also. I currently live a very blessed life, but my childhood was similarly scaring. I can only piece together that what I’m trying to accomplish by buying things I think will make me better or more happy is because of the lack of happiness as a child. I too want to spoil my two daughter’s and give them everything. I’ve noticed my oldest acting a little discontented recently so this post has struck a nerve. Thank you for sharing your deep personal story. I think we could all benefit from being honest with ourselves in facing our pasts and how they affect us in our day to day lives. God is so good to love us and redeem us from our choices no matter where we are at in the process. Thank you thank you thank you!!

  174. Have been poking all around your blog, and love what I’m seeing. I have a goal of “simplifying” too, but it’s so much harder than it sounds. Turning off the TV. Purging all the “extras”. Eating clean, “real” food. Living thrifty. But giving away many of my sons’ toys?! I think it’s a great idea! I just need to figure out how to do it. I truly believe your children will thank you someday…and so will mine.

  175. Love this!! I totally want to do this with my boys! I can totally relate. I’m a complete shopaholic and I tell my husband I shop to fill a void. My kids have developed a sense of “entitlement” and that needs to be broken! Thanks for sharing

  176. I agree with your decision completely! I have done this with my boys (ages 5 and 7) and am expecting another boy in July. I find when they have less toys (as in a dozen or so total) they are much happier, they hardly fight at all and I very seldom feel any frustration with them. The toys and electronics – at least in my opinion – are the cause of almost every single fight my children have. My problem is my husbands parents are constantly buying toys for my boys even though I’ve asked them not to so no matter how often I get rid of toys my house always seems to have too many. I give 1 to 2 trash bags stuffed full of toys to goodwill each month (seriously!) and my boys still have more toys than I would like. I think you’re doing the right thing here. Keep up the good work!

  177. Thank you for sharing your experience! I love your thoughts on this. You may have already addressed this in the comments, I just didn’t want to read through everyone’s harsh opinions of you and your family… 🙂
    I’m wondering how you handle all the extra stuff that comes into you home from others: Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, party favors, prizes and rewards from church, summer reading program, etc.
    Thanks for sharing!

  178. So, I just did this. Similar thing… the girls don’t have a playroom, so they play in the living room. It had become an obstacle course and I was so tired of yelling at them to clean. I told them they had 15 minutes to clean up, or everything was going in the trash. I’d threatened similar consequences before, but in the past I ket their stuff and they earned it back. Before the timer went off, my 5 year old told me I should start throwing things away. She kept a few stuffed animals and put them up in her room, and both girls helped me load all their toys onto the porch (the big stuff) or in a trash can. for the past hour, they’ve been playing without arguing and haven’t asked for a single thing back.
    We’ve had a lot of issues with gratitude and the 5 year old, so I’m hopeful, given the update on this post, that this might help.

  179. Just wanted to chime in with some positive feedback. 🙂 I think that you made a wonderful decision for your children and your family and I’m encouraged to do the same thing. I’ve considered it for a long time and now my mind is about made up. I, like you, will keep some of the good toys like play food, Legos and a stuffed animal or two. But we live in the country with a fabulous yard and animals and plenty to do. When the snow flies, maybe we’ll pull out a couple more toys for variety, but my kids prefer puzzles and books anyway and they’re only toddlers. Thank you for being brave enough to post this.

  180. I love this!!! We have been struggling with the exact same thing with our kids and also the meltdown that occur when they don’t get what they want. We are also fed up with how they don’t appreciate the things they do have. I love your courage to do what your family needed and think that Mission remove toys may take place in our house soon.

  181. Thank you for this post. It has definitely inspired me to get rid of the excess my children have. I don’t think I will ever get rid of all or even most of their toys and things but I am in the process of purging their least favorite items and putting the rest up where they will need to ask to play with them (maybe one or two things at a time) so they do not get so easily get distracted, do not make such a mess and hopefully not fuss and bicker with each other so much. Thanks again for this inspiration!

  182. I make my kids do a toy purge before all holidays and birthdays….I have taught them that there are children with very little or no toys and I encourage them to make the decisions on what to let go. They happily have parted ways with many toys, my oldest often giving away more than I would think she would. I have two ridiculously spoiled girls, although I would never get rid of all their toys I think further reduction is necessary….they have a toy room so I think all their toys will be in there and make all toys come out of the bedrooms. I remember growing up and not having much but my imagination was crazy! I was telling my daughters how my sister and I would play elves and fairies and use our imaginations …and they were intrigued. I think sometimes we substitute our own limited time by allowing our kids to be busy instead of taking the time to enrich their lives with quality. You should be proud of what you have done for your children….totally considering this….thanks for sharing!!!

  183. It’s obvious to me that you are projecting your shopping addiction issue on to your children. What you described is really sad and has to do with your personal issues. Please seek help before you do any more psychological damage. I am a Psychologist and this post is terrifying to me. Please please get help.

    1. Carlee, I grew-up with little. My parents didnt have much money. We used our minds for play and learning. Yes, I was homeschooled. Im the oldest of 5. I never had a barbie, I did get some home made stuffed toyes from my grandmother. That I still have. But, I didnt grow-up to with issues. My sisters and brothers didnt seam to have needed Psychologist at any point in there lives. This is what wrong with the world. People that dont have children think, If children are NOT given everything then they will never be right. I personally think that if children see what goes into earning what they truely need instead of what they want. There would be less in our jails and less in the new every night of someone stealling casue they have to have it.
      I have raised my children the same as I was. My children dont seam to have issues cause of this. And I truly dont believe that Ruth, taking this step will do damage to her children. Ruth, Keep up the great job of being a Parent!!!

    2. I find it hard to believe an actual physiatrist would type that comment. Maybe I’m wrong though… I’m will to bet you are one of those people who don’t have kids but because you read some stuffy text book you think you are the authority on raising children. The first time I took all my kids toys away it was at the recommendation of their in home therapist who saw them in their environment.
      Look up Love & Logic. I once took the classes mainly because I was bored living in a new town and I saw it as a way to meet new people. It was one of the best things I could’ve done! The idea is to let your kids make the choice ( given 2 acceptable options by the parent) and then make them accountable for the consequence of that choice. For example this morning my 2nd grader who has been told over and over about messing around in the morning instead of getting ready did it again! I warned him that when the bus came he was walking out the door in whatever he was wearing, well the bus came and he was shoeless I handed him his shoes and backpack and sent him on his way. It won’t hurt him to walk down the driveway in socks on a dry day and the hour bus ride is plenty time to put his shoes on. He chose to mess around and the consequence was having to run is socks down the paved driveway. Never give them a choice you can not accept the consequence of but don’t always give them easy choices sometimes you have to let them choose between right and wrong. I once caught my son trying to steal a small toy at a store, instead of yelling at him I told him that the item was not his and he did not have money to pay for it. He just looked at me and said you buy it then. My response was look you can either put it back and save your money until you can buy it, or you can continue what you were doing and when we walk to the drift of the store I will tell the manager what you have done and not only will you be in trouble with them you will also loose (it was a car) all your cars at home. He made the wrong choice. The manager realizing what I was trying to do took him to the back room to speak with security and told him he was not allowed back in the store. (He’s 5 so they did not do anything legal wise). He lost all his cars and every time he wanted to go to that store I reminded him he was banned. It was a hard lesson for a 5 year old but since then he has accepted that stealing is wrong and not worth the punishment. He is currently saving a trip to the arcade 🙂
      Less is more and kids need to be held accountable, part of society’s problem as a whole is that it is so consumer driven and kids are not being told no!

    3. Oh Carlee :(. It’s not a good sign if you can make such a rash judgment on a single post. Both my parents are therapists and own their own , very successful, practice with 7 others working for them. Both my sibling hold a phd in psycology as well. They would agree that she did a wonderful thing for her children. If you took the time to really read her post she did warn her kids, and she had been thinking about doing this. The girls didnt freak out nor were they traumatized. She also kept plenty of good educational toys like coloring books, books, dress up clothes, kitchen with accessories, puzzles, Legos and board games while only storing the rest of the toys…not trashing them all. A single event of taking away a bunch of unnecessary toys will NOT psychologically damage them….that accusation is truly laughable. If she does truly struggle with being a shopaholic then she is doing a great job of trying to show her kids how to find happiness in something other than material possessions. I don’t have my PhD but I couldn’t find anything that looked like she was projecting. My own girls are 3 and 18 months and the only toys we have are the same ones mentioned above and maybe a few more (just a few!) And they are extremely happy! What I find “terrifying” is that parents these days think children need to have all kinds of toys to be happy and well educated. Pardon the language but how the hell did Albert Einstein turn out so smart? Should I list more geniuses/influential people that didn’t grow up with technology and amounts of toys like kids these days do?! My girls best days are when the t.v isn’t on ( I’m not dumb enough to give my toddlers any other electronic devices) and we color, read, have tea parties and play outside all day. I must be such a controlling, crazy parent ;)!!!!

  184. I don’t remember if I commented before, but I want to thank you for this post. I have been going thru the same thing and this has really got me thinking. I am having my daughter put everything in her room into bins and we are going to go thru them and keep only a few things to play with. I am tired of the junk and the stress it creates.

    God Bless and have a wonderful day.

  185. I read this article and many of the posts. People are going to have different opinions and I can respect that. I take away toys periodically when it seems we are overwhelmed with them and they don’t have nearly the amount our friends kids have. But one thing I wanted to add was a new tradition at Christmas to limit the toys that time of the year. We wanted to simplify! We implemented 4 Christmas gifts to keep it simple : ~want, need, wear, read~ The girls each received something they want, something they need, something they wear and something they read. It has been a transition but they are adjusting well and I love the fact that our house is not a messy pile of wasted wrapping paper at the end of the day. Now we implement this concept for holidays, birthdays, etc. Works for us!

  186. I LOVE this! I have thought about doing this so many times over the years. I have done what you have done by cleaning, organizing, labeling, EVERYTHING! I’ve noticed that by slowly reducing the amount of toys and clutter it has helped my kids out in a positive way. I agree that imagination should be the toy of choice. When I was little I played with one toy at a time making up stories and adventures. I believe that to this day it has helped me to be a better problem solver and artist because I always practiced using my imagination.

  187. Thank you so much for this post! I just did this the other day and am so happy to see I am not alone! We recently moved to a 850 sq ft house. Our family is a family of 5. I have been struggling to keep my house in order and have been purging like a mad woman but it never seems enough. I was worried about all of the messes made while my kids are home for the summer but so far it has been great since we took the toys away. Birthdays are coming up so I am trying to get creative and get things like movies, or games that we only take out for game night. Thanks for reaffirming that I made the right choice!

  188. Love this article! I am American and live in India most of the year. I am continuously amazed how the kids in my neighborhood play with things that they make, share a bike between 5 different boys, use old scraps of things as toys and are completely content. Our baby girl is 1 year old now and even though we don’t buy her too many toys, everyone else does. On birthdays and special occasions, how do you kindly tell people not to bring toys? Any ideas/thoughts etc?

  189. I have a toy closet where all of the toys hide and only I go into that closet. Visiting children know where it is and ask for stuff from it, which I retrieve and then close the door. (It also holds the extra booster seats for visiting children as well.)
    My littles are too little to know that that is where the toys are but I imagine that I might need to make different arrangements when they get older.

    The toys that are out are the wooden toys, balls, and a couple of stuffies (which I HATE) but no more. Books are always on offer which have recently become fascinating to our 16 month old. My son still manages to make a mess with the few toys that are out, then goes into the kitchen to play with the tupperware drawer. 🙂

    I think that I am going to downsize even more and then just continue rotating toys in and out. I have never felt that many toys were needed, I grew up on a farm and we never had more than 3 or 4 toys for ourselves. And then… I must say, they usually sat around anyhow.

    I wish that I could get rid of the stuffies but most of them have special meaning for them. So off into the cupboard they go… 🙂

    I love the idea that Anon (2 up) follows with their kiddos – the gifts for Christmas. Want, Need, Wear and Read. That just makes sense.

    I’m so glad that I’ve come across this post, it reminds me that not everyone has a huge mess of toys and that we are not depriving our children. Thanks!

  190. I have to admit that on more than one occasion I have taken ALL of my sons toys away. ALL of them. I let him earn them back by doing chores, but each time I considered not letting him get them back because just like you said, I noticed that he was actually ENJOYING it. In fact, he says he hates a lot of his toys and he WANTS to give them away and then he doesn’t miss them at all when they are gone. I really think we often think that kids need everything out there to be happy but in reality, it’s more FUN to use their imaginations and so much less overwhelming. I actually felt pretty guilty after I took all my sons toys away (hence why I let him earn them back) but now I’m considering just getting rid of most (not all) of them anyways. With his help, of course.

  191. Hello, I have 4 children that are ages 14, 12, 11, 9. We are a one income family and have been for over 10 years since we decided to homeschool. But because of lack of finances, our children have done without when compared to others their age. They have never had oodles of toys or games. And we can’t afford cable. But they don’t complain as it is just “how we live”. I commend your bold decision to regain peace in your home especially then to share it publicly…It’s not always easy putting yourself out there knowing others will differ and judge. As I read some of the comments of others, one particular comment stuck out…electronics. All 4 of my children, especially my 2 older ones are computer junkies…I don’t like seeing them hovered over the computer so much, but now that they are in middle and high school and aren’t into toys, or puzzles what else can they do…the time when simple things kept their attention are over. Any suggestions for ideas to replace some computer time are much appreciated.

    1. BOOKS! I was homeschooled. I can definitely say that the one thing that probably helped me the most when I went to college was my love affair with the written word. Make sure that they have access to a variety of literature that meets your standards so that they have a chance to learn what they like and improve their minds in a wide spectrum of topics and genres.


  192. I stumbled across this blog via Pintrest (Yes it’s an addiction of mine, Husband and kids are tucked up in bed, & I’m “Pinning”) – I’ve had this urge the past couple of weeks to just purge the house of all the excess….toys, linen, gadgets, clothing, stuff we have multiples of, it’s ridiculous. In saying that, I have been veeeeerrrryyy slow to get started, it seems so overwhelming to actually get in and get the job done without turning the entire house to chaos. However reading this blog has given me a major itch to just DO IT! – Starting tomorrow. First step the pantry, I’m pretty certain I have 2 popcorn makers, a spare mix master, toaster, coffee grinder & milkshake maker that are just “back-up’s” Tomorrow they shall leave. Next step, Kids Toys. Wish me luck. & Thank you for inspiring me to de-clutter, and free our home & life of extra weight! 🙂

    P.S. I’ll be continuing to check out your blogs from down under in the land of Oz

  193. Wow! I’m really torn on this issue… There are so many points here that hit home. Most children in my child’s peer group have entirely too many toys and we also reached a point where we had too much. We chose to donate about half of the toys and the remaining toys were split in half again in order to rotate them. My son was a willing participant in this process. He helped sort everything and decided what he wanted to keep and what he would donate (under my supervision of course). But, let me back up here to the fundamentals of this issue- I believe that what lies at the heart of the toy problem is not only too many toys but the type of toys that people buy their kids. I’ve continually seen people buy there kids these expensive toys that sing and dance! Not necessary people! And in fact its damaging. Kids need simple toys that encourage imagination- not a battery operated, overstimulating, circus in a box, type toy! How many times have you seen kids play more with a big box after Christmas than they play with the thing that came out of the box? Lol! Its because that box can be anything! Its not finite – it leaves room for imagination and creation, whereas these other loud and expensive toys do not. Also I’ve noticed that the parents that buy these loud, expensive toys for their children because they want their children to be entertained by the toy- not to learn from the play. Lets face it- educational toys like puzzles, art supplies, blocks, etc… often require parents to participate whereas these big, moving, electronic, brightly colored, attention captivators are used as baby sitters- not learning guides. I’m sad to see it but I’ve noticed it continually- Many parents would rather buy a toy that keeps their kids busy so they don’t have to be involved rather than a toy that helps them teach and guide their child’s discovery through play.
    SO, basically I think kids should have toys, but, the right kind of toys. No toys at all is a stretch. Even if done with kindness it is an extreme. A few toys of the right kind that are rotated and enjoyed is what we do and it works for us. I believe in it because of the reasons I stated above and other reasons as well but I’m not going to get too specific here. However, I do agree with Ruth in that the majority of parents need to take a serious look at the toy issue and downsize. We need to seriously consider our values as a society as far as materialism and consumerism go and we start by making change at home. Be the change 😉

  194. I just discovered your blog for the first time and this is the first article I read. EXCELLENT!! IT is a difficult road for us Americans to walk when someone talks about taking away our things or entertainment. Luxury and ease characterize our culture, and unfortunately those earmarks don’t create good character. Keep pressing on!

  195. WOW! I just found this blog from someone posting it on Facebook and I LOVE THIS!!! We have a nephew who gets an excessive amount of gifts each Christmas (he is 9!) just because he is the only grandchild on his side of the family. Years back when the excess started, he was overjoyed…. but now he just tears through the wrapping of each present without barely a glace at the gift as he searches for the most expensive item. Last year, in addition to 30+ other gifts, he received a $500 tablet that he only knows how to play Angry Birds on. Needlessly to say, his love of money and material items is now obnoxiously evident and he feels entitled to these things.

    When my husband and I have kids, we want to avoid this behavior at all costs and so – all that to say – I love what you have done to inspire character, contentment, and genuine joy in your children! Thank you for the inspiration. 🙂

    Feel free to check out my blog anytime. 😉

  196. Just recently I purged the majority of our toys and a lot of kids clothes as well as a lot of other stuff in our house. We’re still working on it but so far the changes have been dramatic. Everyone in our house is happier, content, and less stressed…and I hardly have to spend any time cleaning. It’s amazing. Thank you for the inspiration to cut back even more!

  197. Yes your right this is my first time on your blog and I found it by Pinterest. I applaud you. I too cleaned out everything in my 4 years room in the stress of asking to clean her room on everyday basis. But my down fall was I allowed her to earn most of them back. She is the only child and I have a shopping addictions for her. I believed she needed all these things to be a happy only child bc she does not have anyone to play with. She is 4 and more than most 10 years old. However your right she does not play w 3/4 of it. She mainly plays w/ her ipad and colors. I’m am so glad that I found your blog bc I felt so bad when I clean her room out and made her earn them back. I found this just in time bc I’m starting on building her a new bed w/play area underneath. I’m going to clean out everything but books and learning items. I going to allow her her few items she picks but that s it. The older she gets and the more I’m around other kids in school, dance, soccer, etc kids now days have no respect for earning anything they expect it. I see she going down the same track and I was not raised that why. I earned my thing and I did respect them more. I’m so inspired by you blog and would like to say Thank you and keep up the good job. Please do not listen to those to people who passes judgement on you raising your children. You can be proud how they act in public and they are not always begging for something. You enjoy your vacations and time out with them. Those are memories you can never get back. I don’t know you but I LOVE YOU for inspiring me to be a better mother and how I can make better memories with my 4 year old.
    I wish you all the best in the world.
    Tonya Massey

  198. Helpful post and helpful comments. What an enlightening conversation. I’ve read many different anecdotes of decluttering children’s toys, and every one of them talked about how positive it was for the kids. The negative comments here have been surprising but interesting and informative. I’ve wanted to get rid of toys and clutter for ages, but just wasn’t sure how to go about it. This page has helped a lot. Yours and others’ positive experiences have provided a great foundation of how this could work and improve my family’s quality of life, and gives me a lot of confidence to try a purge of some sort. The negative comments, although I didn’t always appreciate HOW they were shared, helped me seriously consider how I should go about doing this, especially to NOT go about it in anger, but rather with respect, love, and kindness. I’ve also gleaned some great ideas on how to manage after purging. Thank you for sharing and facilitating this great conversation.

  199. I have often consider doing this. Taking all or at least most of my kids toys away, and it’s not because I don’t love them or want them to enjoy their things. It’s just the other way around. My three children have gobs of stuff and they don’t appreciate what they have. They think that if they don’t take care of their stuff then they will just get new stuff. I also find that they really don’t play with the majority of it anyway. It all gets tossed out so they can find the one thing they really wanted in the first place then the room is so messy they really can’t enjoy playing with their special toy. Why is it that we insist on our children having every little thing their heart desires? Before every Christmas and every birthday I sort through toys and try to get rid of broken toys and excess stuff but it seems that I don’t even make a dent. As parents we have decided to start nurturing interests and hobbies and maybe a special event taken as a family…memories if you will instead of stuff. Still we can’t control what grandparents and others give for special occations without sounding ungrateful…what is a parent to do? Still working on this and pondering a solution.

  200. I fully agree with your decision my husband I did the same thing not too long ago we have a4 year old little girl and are expecting our second child after numerous occasions of trying to convince our daughter to clean her room my husband finally got fed up with her throwing fits because it was too hard or she wanted help but every time we did help we seem to be the only ones cleaning up the room so my husband decided okay we’re taking everything out we’re going to give this a test trial to see how it does well my daughter didn’t seem to care much she was perfectly content with no toys in her room no stuffed animals and only books but it did not solve her room being clean because there are still book scattered across the floor and she still seems to drag things in her bedroom that she things are considered toys so while taking her toys away did work for a little while her room still remains to be messy it times but not to the degree that it was before thankfully I love what you put down in the matter what you guys decided to do and I think that I will keep trying to find a way to make it work so thank you and you go girl !!

  201. Wow! This was such a powerful post that I think will have an impact on my household. I know that all the excess stuff my kids have overwhelms them to the point that they just don’t play with any of it. It is more me that is having trouble holding onto it. I know my mom always comments that they didn’t have all the “stuff” and used their imaginations and played outside all day. I want that simplicity for my children too. I believe your post will change the way I look at my kids stuff. Thank you!

  202. Just read this and then went and cleaned out my daughter’s room.
    She has a couple storage bags in her room, when I tell her to clean her room she throws it ALL in this bags. 2 whole bags and the rest didn’t even fit. So she would throw it all in her toy chest.

    I just went through and threw away all of the little toys she puts in those bags except her toy cars and animal figurines. It’s now down to 1/2 a bag.

    We’re planning on moving here in the next 6 months or so and we’re trying to purge and get rid of excess stuff. Each item is 1 less item to move. She’s at school today and she probably won’t even notice. I’ll see what she says when she gets home.

    I’m also contemplating throwing away her toy kitchen and food, she never plays with it, but I have a 17m old son that I’m thinking about keeping it for.

  203. That is an amazing story and something I think I should try with my own daughter. I have 3 kids but my middle one is the one who is constantly asking for things and thinking that she should get whatever she wants no matter the cost. I have explained several times that we are far from rich, money doesn’t grow on trees, and so on. Didn’t work. I tried making a chore chart and giving her an allowance so she could see what it was like to have to earn her money to buy things she wants but she would rather not do the chores, not get the money, and not get anything and still beg me for things. When I tell her no she will throw a temper tantrum that would make a two-year-old stand in awe. I just don’t know what to do anymore. That girl has everything and anything she could ever want. I thought the same way as you, make up for what I lacked in my childhood, but that thinking has left me wondering if maybe it’s better to not have anything.
    Again, thank you for the inspiration to make a change in my family as well. I hope I see some of the same results that you have. I have threatened several times to take all the toys away because I’m sick of picking them up and being told no when I ask for help.

  204. I came upon your site yesterday and i read what you wrote about your life.
    My parents were divorced when I was 3 and I grew up with my mom. When I was 12 she made someone new and moved in with him and started a new family with him. He didn’t really want me so I moved in with my father who then molested me. It took me awhile to understand what is going on and then I moved back with my mom and her new family.
    Twice my mom threw away/gave away most of my things (including many of my clothes) – not as punishment for anything, she had her good, logical reasons (at least they seemed that way to her).
    If you ask my mom, I was not traumatized by it in any way – she thinks I understood and accepted what she did as the reasonable thing to do.
    Until today, 15 years after the last time she did it, when I mature and have my own family and my own home, I am traumatized by what she did.
    Still today, because of what she did, I cling to “things”, to “stuff”. If a dish breaks – I can cry like something bad happened, because taking away my things as a child pulled the rug from under me and made me very insecure (years of expensive therapy…). Don’t know if I’m explaining myself correctly. It’s hard for me to describe.
    I think what you did – taking away all your kids’ stuff – is horrible.
    You may think your girls are happier now – but if you read the book “a child called IT” (if you haven’t – you should) and from my personal experience – kids adapt well to all kinds of bad situations (it took me a couple of years to realize my dad wasn’t good and that he was molesting me and I was 12 when it started!). It’s a self preservation mechanism.
    My kids also have too many toys and books. Many of them I bought myself. Every year at the beginning of summer vacation we raid their play room and take out a lot of books, toys, games and clothes and give them away – but we do it together and they get to choose things they want to keep and things they can part with. They are very secure in their world.
    Hope you will think about it again.

    1. Elle, it sounds like you had a very traumatic childhood for a number of reasons, and I am so, so sorry for what you went through. That said, after reading your comment, I can’t help but wonder if the trauma of taking your stuff away has much more to do with your abandonment and abuse. As an abuse survivor, I know just how damaging that can be. I can assure you that my kids are not abused; on the contrary, they are loved, healthy, and happy, and not deprived in any way. I just don’t believe that stuff equals happiness or love, and that is not the message I want to give them. I do wish you the best, and I will pray for healing from what was clearly a devastating childhood.

  205. We don’t allow video games into our home at all. So my sister in law and mother in law thought that I was a child abuser for not allowing two little boys 8 and 5 to play the Wii or other things and bought them an entire system with every game and attachment possible. It sits at the top of a closet and it’s never been opened..two years later and my kids don’t miss it at all. In fact, I spent a day cleaning out a playroom and gave away seven large garbage bags of toys, games etc to the thrift shop and my kids didn’t even know it was gone. They get so much “stuff” from so many people who love them but all they really want is to spend time with them or play with them. My boys will live in a future filled with more technology than we can imagine so why would I want to waste their time and talents on video games? They will have plenty of time for that but they won’t have time to be brothers looking for bugs and building forts in my yard just because they can. Childhood is a wonderful and magical time if we allow our kids to create and just be kids.

  206. I got excited reading this post. We downsized when we moved from a house to an apartment and we loved it. We recently moved from the apartment to a bigger house than we had before. Now, we have more than enough room for our stuff and we continue to minimize. I felt so much better getting rid of the clutter I had toted around for all these years. My kids are 11 and 13 and they have very few toys now. We still have to purge from time to time but they enjoy their stuff more when there is less to choose from. We all love it.

  207. Hi
    I don’t have kids yet, but I think it’s fantastic. It took a lot of cojones to do what you did, but I think it’s super cool how your kids reacted. What an amazing lesson you taught them (and they continue to teach you!). I too am a bit of a shop o holic so I completely understand. Go you. 🙂

  208. We did it!!!! I was so inspired by you, that we followed suit and it’s been SO MUCH better since then! The kids haven’t even mentioned the toys that we took up a month ago and their room is SO much easier to clean for them now. One question I have though, and I think I know the answer to this, is what to do about Christmas? I’m gearing the grandparents up, especially, since that’s the major source of toy chaos for our family. Trying to get them to focus more on “experience” type gifts or passes for the movies, museums, or the zoo. Just curious how you’re handling that. Thanks in advance!

  209. Why would you take away ALL their toys! Kids need at least a couple of toys each because my child Lucinda doesn’t have an obsession She only gets toys on her b day and christmas and toys spark imagination that kids need. Social media can ruin kids lives so if you keep them active they wont have enough time to play on the ipad or whatever and th ey will be having so much fun and when they do whant to get on the computer they will think”oh well this is boring MUM CAN I PLAY WI TH MY TOYS????????” Now th is is how you can control it, Dolls,
    you only need one. Beanie kids, you can have 2 ,a boy and girl.
    Sleeping toys, just,keep the ones that they sleep with ,simple !
    Kids need toys. Its like a ying with no yang
    Kids need imagination its simple and last thing dont give th em toys often because they will think that they can get them whenever they please just say no

    1. You obviously didn’t finish reading what she wrote…or understand what she said. She said all the toys are gone except their two american girl doll (one each) and some outfits for the dolls, books, art and craft supplies, legos, some dress up clothes, and play kitchen food and dishes.
      You really should finish reading something and make sure you understand it BEFORE you comment and make yourself look like a fool!

  210. This is my first time on your blog and I found it through Pinterest. I must say that I love what you have done. I have two girls, 10 and 4 and they have everything they could ever want; from toys to electronics to clothes and more. Too much in my opinion. I did the same as you, I began buying them more and more things just because I did not have much growing up and I did not want them to feel the way I felt while growing up or to ever go with out. Our city does a community wide yard sale that we are going to be participating in and we will be purging our home. We had started at the beginning of the year but we will be doing the yard sale to get rid of items. Even the girls are ready to get rid of items because they have so much to clean. We make them clean up their toys every night before bed and it takes them about an hour to clean up everything. We love the simple life and of course they will keep some toys because we home school and some of those are used in class but for others, the toys are just taking up space. Good Job to you and your family for living a simple, clutter-free life! We’ll be right behind you!

    p.s. I do not think you were to harsh and if your girls love the new simple life I say rock on! (I wouldn’t have taken the comforter though, lol! My girls are easily cold!)

  211. I love this… I’ve been trying to do this for years. The less toys my kids have the happier they are…. how do you explain this and deal kindly with extremely doting grandparents? Ps thanks for the encouragement to keep going forward.

  212. I have 3 children ages 11, 9, and 4. After a particularly difficult battle with getting them to clean their room, I took almost everything away and told them they would have to earn it back. Within weeks of getting their toys back my oldest asked if I would take everything away and give it away. After reading this post I am considering doing some major purging. I would definitely keep the Lego’s and the books, but can any 2 kids possibly play with umpteen matchbox cars. 😉

  213. Really? You are idiotic… you are influencing parents to make a horrible choice damaging their children’s lives…

    When I was a kid I had toys, I liked them and I used my imagination playing with them… It disgusts me that you make them lose all physical play and leave them to use fantasies in their minds. That was a very bad decision.

    It makes them lose the drive to do things, It makes it so when they grow up and want something, instead of striving for it they will just sit and fantasize about it!

    Very idiotic…. Very idiotic….

    1. I think you are the idiot here…did you read the whole thing? Those girls still have toys. she just downsized all the unnecessary toys in their house. No one is getting hurt she is doing the best for HER kids, and she knows her kids better than anyone else and she said they are doing great and are a lot happier. How can you be mad at that?

  214. This is almost as sick as circumcision… (Circumcision removes 80% of the nerve endings and is extreme torture (all medical ‘benefits’ have been disproven)) This makes me sick! This is close to a cult of some sort, Some idiot makes a post and all these people are like ‘SURE, I’LL TAKE ALL MY KIDS STUFF, THIS SOUNDS AWESOME!’


    1. Nathaniel, I already posted above and I don’t want to repeat myself. But I’d advise you to take a look at my post from June 4th…. Now that you’ve read my post and you know where I stand on the issue, you see that I don’t agree with taking toys away completely at all. But, I wanted to ask because you are so completely adverse to this, do you have children?

      …Because taking away some of their toys doesn’t take away their imagination and it surely doesn’t take away there drive. Material driven ambition isn’t healthy in children or adults. Thats not why we do things. And… I’d be surprised to hear you say this if you had kids because they NEVER just sit and imagine. With or without mounds of toys, kids are active and creative and bursting with energy. Oftentimes, without being given toys, kids will make things to play with, build forts, etc… and this builds confidence so that when they grow up, instead of wanting something materialistic and feeling inadequate if they don’t acquire that thing, they feel confident, knowing that they can use their creativity and resourcefulness to fulfill their needs. What do you think?

  215. Found this story on Pinterest, haven’t read any other posts from your blog, but wanted to commend you on setting your kids up for success! I currently have no children, but if I ever do I would hope I’m able to do what you’re accomplishing. You are setting your kids up to be happy with themselves and not need materialistic things to find their happiness. Keep up the good work!!

  216. you seem to have went to the other EXTREME- for some reason, when people have children they like to go from one extreme to the other- balance seems foreign to them. however, need us remind everyone that the most successful children out there had BALANCE. not taking away all their stuff and not wastefully piling garbage – BALANCE- this is something the poster, in her moment of “Frustration and anger,” forgot. This reminds me of the narcissist parent that makes decisions for the kid based on their ego, not from reason or thoughtful reflection (weighting the options, so to speak). It also reminds one of the narcissist parent that (as the child grows up) starts taking toys that their now growing children have kept as memories and gives them away without asking permission. when they realize the toy is missing (something that had great sentimental value) the narcissist *shrugs* and does it again. just plain downright dirty and mean. seems the poster might have anger and control issues

    1. I disagree. I read the whole post and it didn’t come across as narcissistic or extreme. She clearly stated that she “wasn’t angry, just fed up”, the kids do have a special stuffed animal, and the kids still have toys that she pulls out for them. What they don’t have excess and what they seem to have learned is contentment–something a narcissist will never understand.

  217. I enjoyed ready your post. I have 5 children. Ive been widowed for the past 7 yrs. My childrens ages are 24,21,17,14, & 7. My children have never had lots of toys. There causins would come to visist and say that they were poor or ask where are your toys. My oldest Amanda whom is a mother of two. Would say that the world out side is there play house. They would teacher others how to play with less. But, they also had animals as we had a small homestead. My 3 older children grew-up with horses. I do agree that children and people have to much. We live very simple. In our house we dont have cable TV. Just movies. We have to many choices in this life. Simple is best.
    P.S. Sara, How many children do you have? Have you ever been down this road that your making a comment on? Just wondering?

  218. I completely understand your point of view with this post and I agree with you, I wish the best for you and your family. And as far as being a shopaholic, what has worked really well for me is telling myself that even though it seems like a good deal i’m sure they will have an even better next week or at another store, I rarely end up buying anything that is not a necessity.

  219. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic. I don’t know you personally. However, I believe it’s a beautiful blessing to see very clearly what positive changes you made in your family life. Keep going mom! We need more families to recognize. I believe in doing or trying new changes to better my family in a healthy and positve ways. Kudos! Love the post. Thank you for sharing!

  220. Wow!! Thank you for this! I have so many, many times wanted to do something like this, but have felt guilty at the thought of it- like I would be depriving my kids, or something! I’m so tired of this ‘stuffitis’ disease- its overwhelming & takes away from the quality time we could be spending together! Your article is just the inspiration I needed to get over my hurdle of feeling like I would be depriving my kids! Thank you! Thank you! Many blessings!

  221. When my daughter was little I lost it one afternoon while cleaning her room. It was pretty much the same scenario as you describe in your post. Everything was bagged up and went out to the garage and while there were tears at first she soon seemed to get over it. We went a month before I pulled some things out for her, but she never seemed to miss them. She was content to play imaginatively indoors and outside, colour or read and never once after the first day asked again. I was the one who returned them to her.
    I was in the wrong for pulling the toys out in anger, but it showed me that they don’t need as much as we give them. Remember as babies when they were more fascinated with the box / paper than the gift itself?

  222. hats off to you, from one overindulgent momma to a former one. I adore you and your tenacity. I wish I lived local to you as we would hit it off and could have coffee together. this is a fabulous idea. I’ve cleared the room on countless occasions. but the crap always finds it’s way back in. I too, have overindulged my daughter in an attempt to give her everything I felt I never had as a child, tangibly or not. thank you for the inspiration and thoughts. I appreciate you and your vulnerability for putting it out there.

  223. I actually agree with your decision 100%. My parents never cleaned my room. They told me once, maybe twice and if I had to be told a third time–then my Mom cleaned my room and I lost everything that wasn’t put away.If I elft my things down stairs, there was no warning, I lost it when my Dad had to pick it up. I didn’t have an over assortment of toys growing up so this was a big deal to me.

  224. I absolutely can’t wait to do this! We are moving in a couple of weeks and it will be the perfect opportunity to start fresh! Thanks for sharing this!

  225. This article has saved me! 🙂 I am 12 years old, (almost 13), and am trying to get rid of my things. My family is planning on moving in a year, so about when I start high school, and we want to bring the least amount of things possible. I am very protective of my things because I get most from very close family friends. But this article has made me realize that I don’t need to keep those objects if I never use them. They are mine now and will they really say “Oh do you have that such and such I gave you 4 years ago?”. Probably not. Thank you so much for bringing me into the clutter free light 😀
    Soon to be clutter free Clara

  226. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing your experience!
    I’ve been inspired and will be having a talk with my daughters tomorrow and we’ll be taking many of their “thingz” to the 2nd hand shoppes…bring on more space!

  227. Our pile of toys were acquired with our adopted child including a Nintendo DS. Our take on it is “if there are so many toys you cannot clean them up in an hour, then you can clean throughout the day or there are just too many toys”. We clean every night. If there are toys left out they get thrown out or go to goodwill (We were so happy when the DS went that route). It was harsh for him at first, but like you, we don’t deal with the entitlement attitude anymore or ADHD (overstimulation). Look at teens today, they are riddled with anxiety because they don’t relate except through technology and they don’t drive, have jobs, or take initiative. I think they are reaping the seeds of giant playrooms, tons of stuff, eating out multiple times a week, screen time, and “time out” being the only consequence for their actions. You can start your kids growing up at 6 or 26, it is up to you their parent.

    1. You are wrong teens are riddled with anxiety because of the pressures of assignments and college application not technology dependence.

  228. My mom did this when I was 10. I owned everything I wanted. I was a well taken care of, spoiled, only child. After years of trying to keep it clean and trying different organizing techniques, reward systems, chore charts, all of which failed, she told me whatever wasn’t picked up off my floor would be gone when I got home from school. It was, and I never even remember any of it!! I just remember the neighbors messy house when they wanted it all!! And us going “Don’t miss that heap!” their livingroom was a toy explosion.

  229. Hi Ruth,

    A friend pinned this post on Pinterest and it totally spoke to me. I’ve just discovered your blog but I can see already we think very similarly. I have, on multiple occasions, cleaned out a good portion of the toys and either donated some or just stored them away. I rotate toys, all the usual tricks. I am somewhat of a minimalist in a non-minimalist society. Especially the area we live in. We have 3 kids, with the fourth on the way. The “stuff” drives me up the wall and I don’t think it’s good for the kids. That being said, how do you manage gifts for holidays now that you’ve done the “great purge”? Do you just graciously accept the gifts and keep them? Do you tell family not to buy them anything? Do you donate the toys they receive? Thanks! Lisa

  230. This article really hit home! I have taken my children’s toys away from them as well when they wouldn’t clean them up and they didn’t miss them either! I get sick of all the stuff! We did do some purging this year but there is so much more we could do. My girls would be happy with their dress up clothes, play kitchen, Polly Pockets, and their train and farm set. My husband has 9 siblings so at Christmas and birthdays they get a ton of presents. My oldest daughter who is 7 really has a hard time getting rid of things too. When we had our garage sale though she was eager to earn some money so it was a little easier to get rid of things. Thanks again for this post!

  231. I haven’t read any of your other posts and found the link to your blog on pinterest. I read the entire story and the “update” about people not responding well to you taking your children’s toys away. Honestly, I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve done. Although I have no kids of my own I am a step parent. And I’ve seen the way my step daughter reacts to things that she thinks that she has to have and she’ll die without and its very concerning to me. I applaud you on your decision and sticking with it. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  232. If not for Dr Moon the great spell caster what would i have done. my life was almost coming to an end when my lover of 6 yrs left me for another woman. I was so sad that it started affecting my work. was issued quarry twice just because i was missing work and not concentrating when i even manage to go to work. until this faithful day when i saw some posting by two ladies Felicia and Yvonne testifying about how Dr Moon brought back their lover in less than 24 hrs at first i laugh but something inside of me just said there is no harm in trial so decided to contact him.I told him the problems i was having and he said i should give him 48 hrs.even after i spoke to him still had doubt until finally when i received a call from a man that i had not talked to for 4 months. decided to share this testimony because of other people that might need help like me you can contact him directly on moonspelltemple@gmail.com

  233. I’m not a parent yet but I love the idea of rotating toys…I think I will do that from the start, and I definitely plan on limiting screen time – and not just for the kids. I want an attic so I can store toys that are not in use and waiting to be rotated in. Rotation makes toys seem brand new to children.

  234. I’m not a parent yet and probably won’t be for a while, but I loved the message that you send in this post. All too often, we lose sight of what’s really important because we’re burdened with stuff. I recently downsized myself by moving from a 3-bedroom apartment to a 1-bedroom apartment. It was entirely by choice and I felt ten times better afterwards knowing that I kept what was important. Have I missed the stuff I got rid of? Not one bit. Cleaning out and purging felt good. I’m glad your daughters are getting to understand this at a young age. I definitely like the idea of rotating toys too – it gives that “novelty” factor.
    I spent my days as a teacher of young kids, so the fact that this made your children read more definitely makes the teacher in me happy! I think this was a very bold move you made and I’m happy it has worked so well for your girls. 🙂 Imagination is a priceless thing to value.

    – Pam

  235. I have read this before, and I am so inspired. I want our lives to be a lot simple. It’s a constant battle, but I can’t imagine what our lives would be like, if I just gave up, and embraced too much stuff!

  236. I remember in Pakistan when watching two little boys play and laugh rumbunctiously with pair of pillows for a good hour. The American missionary next to me commented, “and to realize that at home anyone thinks kids need toys”

  237. I am so glad that I found this post! I have been struggling with this with my 4 kids. I have taken everything away before and I approached it wrong and it didn’t work. I have been feeling like we need to try it again. Trying this again has been on my mind for a very long time and it has been causing some anxiety! I am very inspired by your post and I cant wait to follow your lead, thank you!!

  238. First of all, I love your bravery. This is not child abuse, for most of human history, children have NOT had any toys except the ones they make on their own. Toys these days are a complete luxury so it’s inspiring that your children’s reaction was as positive as it was. And congratulations to you for getting your kids back!
    I have minimal toys for my kids but I’ve been tempted to do what you’re talking about and I feel like I wouldn’t have the need to apologize after reading this post.
    GREAT work!

  239. I know this was written quite a while ago, but I just saw this on Pinterest and wanted to encourage you! AMEN! Your kids will be so much better off because they have a parent like you! Keep it up. Now I’m going to go purge my children’s toys!

  240. This is a great post. I have not read any other comments as my internet time is limited (yep, mine too!) but I have felt for some time that my kids have too much “stuff.” I always feel bad about even thinking of taking things away, because they play with everything… right? In thinking about it a little more, they may get EVERYTHING out, but they only play with things for a few minutes before getting something else out resulting in a an incredibly messy bedroom that then takes 45+ minutes to clean up, pushing bedtime back at least half an hour and causing Mommy’s blood pressure to come up just a smidge (or more). I am inspired by your decision and will find a way this weekend to get the kids otherwise occupied while I go into their room and truly assess the situation. Thank you for helping me see I’m not alone in this thinking and putting it into perspective. You definitely have a new reader here! 🙂

  241. Thank you so much for this post!

    I looked at so many children who feel they have a right to things and have an over consumption of toys. Me and my husband want to start having kids when he comes back from Afghanistan and I’m definitely going to get him to read this. I really enjoyed it.

  242. Hey there
    I have no doubt this post became controversial haha
    As I was reading through it, at first I thought your decision was kinda radical, but then, as I kept reading, your worries met mines.
    We don’t have kids yet, and we’re not even planing them (yet), but from time to time I think about how it would be if we had kids, and one of my worries is how would I encourage their imagination.
    My mom is a terrific mom. With her ups and downs, she always, always, always encouraged me to use and play with my imagination. There were always artistic supplies at home. There was always time to make papel mache, or to paint, or to whatever it comes with imagination and creation.
    Now that I think of it, I didn’t have those many toys either. I did have Barbies and baby dolls, but to be honest, I remember getting super bored with those… I’d rather read, or paint, or cross stitch (that was my grandma <3) than playing with the Barbies.
    I'm not the most organized person on Earth (I'm pretty messy actually) so the idea of organizing daily doesn't appeal me at all. I constantly try to avoid big mess at home, just to avoid the fact of cleaning after, so I try to tidy whatever I mess as soon as possible, and I remember quite well, that I HATED to tidy up my room as a child. I actually don't believe any child enjoys it haha
    I think your children are yours to rise. To be honest, I totally agree with your decision. It's not that your taking everything away and leaving them with NOTHING to entertain. They paint. They have dress up clothes. They have Legos. The now use their imagination. It's so sad to see an adult with no imagination, and therefore, no resolution power or whatsoever. People tend to underestimate imagination while they should be doing exactly the opposite.
    Go, courage woman. Kuddos for you!

  243. Hi I am a mother of 4 older well behaved children (22,19,17 and 15). My children do not get into trouble and are very polite. The reason I am pointing this out is I have done things similar that you have done and than in the end given them back their toys or worse I left them bagged and bought new toys. In fact on a recent purge of our shed i found 3 bags full of toys I at one time took away because they didn’t clean there room. I am now looking back on this and think what would of been better. First of all I should of never bought so many toys to begin with. My children didn’t need them but both my husband and I work hard and wanted to make things “nice” for them. If I had to do it again I would give them an allowance of a certain amount when we went out. Not every time either. I did make my children clean their rooms (as said before I fought with getting this accomplished) and they always have helped around the house. I think I should of given them a monthly allowance so they would learn the value of money. Although my older children don’t carry any credit cards they have had to adjust to not spending all their paychecks on eating out and clothes. They really never learned that it is ok to not buy that pretty shirt. Recently I was helping my daughter pay for a friends present because she didn’t have any money. Well, I discovered the reason she didn’t have money was because she bought $80 suntan lotion for the tanning booth. Something she obviously didn’t need since we live in Florida. I cut up her bank card because it was sitting in front of me. Now this is a debit card but my daughter is very busy with school and work so getting to the bank is a little bit tricker. This has made her really think about the cash she has in her hands and now she is saving. I think she didn’t learn the value of a dollar early on and my son had several NSF funds for awhile there too. Had I taught them earlier in life that value of the dollar and how much they don’t need every possession they see or to eat out all the time I wouldn’t have to teach it to them now. Again other than that my kids are awesome, polite and do well in school. I guess I’m saying if you have little kids teach them early that they don’t need every toy and get them to understand what it means to save and not always spend.

  244. More power to you! For me it is easy to keep just a few things and be happy. My hubby is a whole new story though. It took me ten years for him to realize than less is more. Las year when I got pregnant I went through the entire house (including every closet, kitchen cabinet, and shoes) and pulled out every ithem I didn’t absolutely needed it.My hubby couldn’t let books and dvd movies go. He did hoever built a computer server and is saving all the movies soo we can shed of those too. I am still working on books. All of that said, I am determine to raise my now 6 month old with very few toys. Stuff makes us less content and takes precious space away. I dont support that 😉

  245. Hi. I thought this was an interesting idea. I don’t have any kids but personally I think it takes a certain pro-active type of mother to do this. It never would have worked with my mother- she never cared that my room was messy or anything like that. I still grew up loving to read and I preferred that to most activities. But if she took away my toys I would have been devastated. Even if I didn’t play with them- we had the run of the basement with our huge toy box full of things we had gotten from garage sales.

  246. What a lovely post! Having just done this with our daughter’s room in the past week (quite a coincidence that I stumbled upon this blog now), I have already noticed a change in her behavior, as well as the soon-to-be-already-happening-less-stressful-life, ahead of us. We have always tried to fascinate her, usually with many successes, on such topics, as dinosaurs, ants, etc, teaching her about their “lives” and how they interact, and whatnot. The part that makes it hard, is the distraction from her other toys (NO, not that she is not interested, because we usually expand on topics that peak her interest.), having to do with her attention span, as well.

    Thanks so much for sharing! I am so glad you have seen such success with your kiddos!

  247. Dear Ruth,
    I found your site thru this article on Pinerest. I admire your straightforward and honest way of dealing with the toy-clutter problem, and I’m not surprised at all that it has succeeded/is succeeding.
    What really moved me, ‘tho – to tears – was your own personal story. There, too, your straightforwardness and honesty are apparent. I am so sorry for all the pain you went through, and full of admiration for you for having gotten over it. It is very clear to me as a religeous person, that you were “designed” to do certain things on this earth. The most obvious is to bring your lovely children to this world. Another is all the wisdom, knowledge and help that you make available on your beautiful site, thus improving so many people’s lives. I thank you for that.
    I would like to wish you lots of good health, love, success and joy in everything you do, as well as your family.

  248. We have always said if you get a new toy, one must leave…but somehow over time we only applied that to birthdays and holidays. We became consumed with junk…we only had four kids, but our home was filled with plastic junk at every turn. We began to purge, big time….I have spent the last few months purging even more, not just their things but our things as well. We live in a society filled with greed and abundance and the very thought of less makes people instant scream depravity. Such a shame that previous generations have bred such a mindset, and an even bigger shame that our generation is breeding even greedier mindframes.
    Recently, we have begun tossing around the idea to move our little family of 7 into a downsized home with land, so our children can be children, so our children can run free and think on their own. I read your article and loved it! It inspired me to purge even greater. Currently, as I type this I am sitting in a room filled with toys in a variety of piles, donate, trash, sell, put away. There have been few tears, mostly “we don’t really play with that anyways.”
    The thing that kills me the most is that we live in a society that expects children to play with “educational toys” yet grades are down and the average standardized test reveals poor grades…guess they are not so “educational” afterall.

  249. I LOVE this I am honestly in the middle of doing this right now, I have been working on it all day. I only have one child who is about to turn five and find her constantly telling me she is bored or she can’t find something, yet she has two overflowing toy boxes that have accumulated over the years. I also feel that by doing this it will help her become more involved in helping around the house, with less distractions she will be more willing to involve herself in the things I am doing around the house, like cooking dinner or doing dishes.

  250. I love this post! I have been trying for years to declutter my home. My husband is somewhat of a video-game hoarder. I hate it. I want to put an add on craigslist that says come take it all just leave the personal effects. ugh. So far I have done a good job this year getting rid of things. I realize that the “stuff” in my life originally kept to help me remember things is a ridiculous notion. I have a memory bank in my head and the “stuff” can’t go with me when I die. So why not live more simply and remove it all. There is a signifigant age difference between my two kids and I have realized that because I used to work full-time I was always “buying” my sons love with out realizing that was what I was doing. He is used to getting toys and games all the time. Now that his sister is here it has been a power struggle and we have realized we have somewhat raised one of those “entitled” milenials that I despise. We are paying for it now and are very quickly trying to change the damage we have done. I slowly slim down what toys etc my kids have. Someday I will have a clean home without clutter. Thank you for your inspiration!

  251. This is sooo cool! My kids (2 girls – 1 1 boy) have so much, they hardly ever pick up, and if they do the first thing is arguing about who is picking up whose, and “I didn’t make that mess”….
    They are horrible with the things they have, they loose and don’t take care of their things, so a few months ago I took away some 80% of their stuff…. Unfortunately things did not really get much better…. But taking away ALL of it scares me though…. Now we’re moving to a new house, and I found the idea of a “toy library” really cool! Anyone who has experience on how to organise this?

  252. my son is 4 years old and i give the baby toys to my daughters. when i feel they are to old for them, than i get rid of them. i never takes toys but i really just skimmed through your post so i have no idea what negative comments you got. if you take toys your kids like from them when they still actually like them, then i think that is a little irrational. stop buying so much toys and let the kids enjoy them.

  253. I stumbled upon this blog post through facebook (maybe it was Pinterest). The first time I read it, I skimmed through your ideas and thought: “that’s a nice ideal to have, but not for me”. Well, I couldn’t stop thinking about this idea. My daughter just turned two, and I noticed something amazing on a recent family trip out for icecream. She brought with her two small Happy Meal toys which were given to her – a Minion (she LOVES Minions), and a Smurf. She played so happily with those two simple toys the entire time. Placing the Smurf on top of the napkin dispenser, kissing him to knock him off the napkin dispenser, squealing with delight when he hit the table, and doing it all over again was her game of the night. That was my “Dinosaur Moment” as I shall call it, giving credit to your experience. Why on earth does she have so many toys? The more toys she has, the more overwhelmed and distracted she becomes. An overwhelmed, over-stimulated toddler is a ticking time bomb. So…. during nap time today, I pan on going through all her toys in the living room, and narrowing them down. A lot. I will keep certain toys that inspire creativity, enforce social skills, teach concepts, and foster appropriate motor skills. In other words, I will keep craft items, blocks, baby dolls, and a puzzles. From there, I plan to keep only a few toys out at a time. I have a good feeling that she will respond positively to the purging. She always gains a new interest when I rearrange her toys. So here goes nothing…
    All that to say thank you for sharing. I look forward to keeping up with your blog in the future. And yes, I realize I practically typed out an entire blog post in my comment. Oops.

  254. I just want to say thank you for this post. I myself have been struggling with too much stuff and not being satisfied with ALL that I do have. My husband gets frustrated with me and my daughter! This post was just what I needed to encourage me to make a change in our lives without fearing that I am completely ruining my child. I am going to start decluttering and simplifying today. You came along exactly when I needed you so keep on honey!

  255. Kudos to you! Thank you for sharing such a valuable lesson and experience. I don’t really have the time to write a very lengthy comment but all I can tell you is that you’ve inspired me! It’s very encouraging to see that there is still people out there that can see, and have the courage to pursue what is really meaningful in life. America will be a much better country if there were more families like yours.

  256. You are a danger to society.
    If I was living in your country I would report you to proper authorities.
    There must definitely be a law in your country about giving advice about matters that fall in the area of licensed professionals.
    Everyone reading this should consider whether the writer has any qualifications in developmental psychology before following her instructions.

  257. I’m right there with you! There has been many a time I’ve almost done that exact same thing and still might even now! It’s so hard to deal with this entitled attitude that a lot of our kids have today, even the kids who are raised better (like I try to do mine). I say good for you!

  258. i think you should do whatever works for you. nobody agreed with my decision to take my son out of public school last year. they knew he was missing between 50 and 75 percent of his work at the end of the year according to his report card. the school told me they were going to pass him because it wasn’t in the budget to let him go to summer school and in sc they go by the no kid left behind rule. so they wouldn’t fail him either. when i tool him out of public school everyone was worried about how he would socialize even though he played 3 sports, went to church, and went to the skating rink every weekend and surfed almost daily with people ranging from 5 years old to 63 years old. so in other words….people say it takes a village to raise a child and i have seen the village and i don’t need their help nor their opinion.

  259. I have a two-year-old and a three-month-old who share a very small bedroom and have been planning on doing a big purge for some time, but now I realize I need to just go in and do it. I am tired of picking up piles of toys that got only a moment’s play. Limiting gifts for Christmas and birthdays is difficult but we have tried to only give our daughter things like puzzles and stickers and something I can make for her baby doll (cloth diapers, bibs, changing pad, etc). When I was a child, every Christmas my mom would give me and my sisters a shared box full of art and craft supplies. We were always so excited to open that box and find new paper, paints, pipe cleaners, and so on. My husband and I have talked about what we will be doing for Christmas this year and have decided to give our two year old an easel and a few art supplies and that’s it. I know it is something she will be able to use for many years. For birthdays we plan to stick to the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” idea. Professionally, I am an early childhood teacher who has taught toddlers up to kindergarteners and the toys almost all the children have gravitated toward and repeatedly go back to are the ones that are open-ended. There were many opportunities for play with my old muffin tin and things I found around the house. Thank you for the encouragement and motivation to do good for my children and get rid of all the excess stuff.

  260. Looking for a great age appropriate Christmas gift idea for a seven-year-old girl or boy? Consider a unique toy or an educational toy as a Christmas gift idea.liztoys may be a good choose.


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    Dr Atakpo is like a father to the fatherless.. i never believed these will really make a change in my marriage, and i never have it in my thought that i could ever been with my husband Mr Devis after divorcing and ending our 33years marriage…. My life was upset i never knew where to start from when my husband broke up with me…..My name is Tanisha Devis from Poland but got married and live in Chicago USA, atakpotemble@yahoo.com is the right email address to contact for an urgent help in getting your lover back…. My husband and I have been together for 33years before he divorced me and i was so upset because i thought i have lost my marriage forever… i did all i could to please for my husband to bring me back home but all to be in vain.. i had to travel away from my state because i was not having anywhere to stay because my home was not conducive for me to stay because my husband want me out of th house, i travel to a friend of mine in California, one night, when i was searching on a good spell caster results that help in bringing back lost lover’s and husband’s, i found an interesting story that was shared by Santana Valdez From Texas Huston, about a good spell caster called Dr Atakpo,and how he helped her in getting her husban back home, and i decided to put a try in contacting him… he replied me back.. i thought at first these was just normal and he told me that i was going to get back my husband after a period of 28hours i still doubted him…. But today as i am sharing these good news is for me to express my experience to all the whole universe that these is a good spell caster that helps in bringing back lost lovers and he is (atakpotemble@yahoo.com) I am happily with my husband and my 3 kids, TARRY, WENDY, JEFF… great Atakpo i thank you for helping me to get my family back…. his email address is (atakpotemble@yahoo.com)

    Thanks, From Tanisha Devis

  263. You took away their comforter? The thing that keeps them warm at night? I don’t see how a comforter in any way is ‘too much.’ Keeping your kids warm at night is kind of one the bare minimums you should be doing as a parent. Excessive toys? Yes, give them away – I’m in total agreement. Bed linens? uh, no.

  264. I have in no way read all of the comments here, and I did stumble across this post on pinterest. I totally agree with what your motivations were, and I don’t think you were harsh in anything you did. What about kids that only have a few toys or don’t have all the latest and greatest toys because their parents can’t afford them? If they can be happy with less why can’t my kids be as well? And what about years gone by, when our parents or grand parents were young? I think having less makes you really appreciate what we do have. I think what you did, the lesson and values you are teaching your children through this is priceless.

  265. Awesome! Hooray for you, you have inspired me to eliminate some toys from my kids over abundance and I hope to see the same appreciative spirited children as yours! Thanks

  266. After reading your update I felt I needed to share this with you. My mom did the same thing with me. I am an only child. I can look back and see that was one of the best things she did. My mother was a wonderful woman who died last November. It also encouraged me to use my imagination. I remember that I was not taking care of my room and momma packed up all my toys. I did still have everything I needed. I remember being so proud when I made a doll house and paper dolls out of paper, popsicle sticks, and tape. no toy can give a child that feeling of accomplishment. I also never ran out of imagination and ingenuity. So unlike many I do not believe that it was harsh or mean. People are given children to take care of and love not give them everything they want. Just what they need. If we give them everything they want what is left? I grew up to be a very creative individual because my mom took the time to care about the way I took care of things. I love my mother dearly. She wasn’t always perfect……but she was the best. And my best friend! I am 29 yrs old now.

  267. I couldn’t just read your story and move on without leaving you a note. I stumbled upon your blog via pinterest, “keeping your house clean in 45min a day” grabbed my attention. I need as much motivation as I can get…. So, I pinned your article on how to keep a tidy house. Then I read your depression story. Thank you for baring your soul for the world to see. You are a blessing and I thank God for leading me to your blog, nothing is an accident. God is freaking awesome like that!! I’m so happier you lived to tell your tale. May you continue to live in His Amazing Grace.
    I’ve taken my 4 boys toys away in the past but always end up giving them back..slowly. So ready to be rid of the ‘stuff’. Reading how your girls are happier without the distraction of ‘things’ encourages me that with time and more consistency my children will learn to be content with the simple things in life. My 2 older boys are teenagers so not sure how to approach them with the idea of living with less but will give it a go and just see how it plays out. Thank you so much Ruth for sharing your life. God bless you and your sweet family. I look forward to following you on pinterest and reading your future posts.

  268. I’m new to your blog. I found this post by reading another post about food. I really enjoyed this, and it gave me a little faith to do what I’ve been thinking about doing, and threatening to do for that matter, for months. My boys share a room, and it is easily destroyed within 5 minutes of cleaning. They have stuff stuffed under their beds that they have not played with since the day it was opened out of the package. I am definitely encouraged to rid ourselves of the clutter and live a more simple fulfilled life. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  269. thank you! the reason i find my way to your blog was actually the mermaid birthday. we will have one for our elder daughter next month when she turns five. but i am really impressed by the way you took the mess of toys and games. i always think we should reduce the stuff at our childrens room and time by time i put some games or stuffed animals aside. with your encourgement i will run to their stuff and reduce it even more.
    we always asked for birthdaypresents which you can do together or some crafty stuff. so with the next birthday ahead i will make it even more clear to friends and family to give not another toy but find a theatre play or bring a voucher for a horse back ride or invite for a little picknick in the park.
    thanks a lot, annett

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  272. 🙂 This seems over the top, but I can see why it would work. I am frustrated by the fact that my daughter’s closet is packed (PACKED) with toys and she only plays with her doll house and spends the rest of the time writing stories and coloring. When I gently suggested that we purge some of her toys (she’s 8… she has SOME autonomy) it caused her to cry and immediately she began to tell me who gave her each toy and what memory is associated with them. As a sentimental pack-rat I totally got her feelings. With a boy at 10… who really ONLY plays with Legos and my 8 year old daughter who likes Barbies… it’s really hard to convince them that they don’t need the closet full of toys they never play with. I realize that I am the mom, and I could just take it away… but when I was 12 my parents took everything out of my room because I was getting a D… so I wouldn’t be distracted. I am still traumatized (my grades DID come up though, and I got the stuff back months later…) Any suggestions from anyone out there on how to convince kids to give up the stuff without being “mean” about it??

  273. Honestly, I think that this was a great idea. I am 22 years old & as a kid my mom had to do this to me on more then one occasion. Sometimes you just get caught up in all the stuff. She wold do little things first, tell me to clean my room, then when i didnt she would scoop everything up into a basket off the floor & put it in the basement. It would happen again & again until everything was gone. Then it would all start to come back a little at a time, & we would start over. By bringing down just a few toys at a time for them, I think your actually making them appreciate things more and creating a much smaller mess for the kids and yourself by doing so. I am all for it. Great job!

  274. Love this post!
    It’s funny, I was just about to do something similar this Saturday. I looked around our front room and realized that my ONE daughter’s toys were taking over our WHOLE space! When I saw that, I just started laughing and decided change is in order! And she can help – at 3.5 and starting preschool in 1 week, she’s ready to help me on this!
    Does anyone else just get overwhelmed by the amount of plastic in our homes? I sure do.
    Parental boundary setting looks all sorts of ways, huh!
    Good on ya’, awesome lady – I’ll be thinking of you while piling loads of plastic toys into boxes and huffing and puffing them down to the basement!

  275. I understand what you went through with your kids completely. I often get frustrated with my kids for not picking up their toys. I would always threaten to take them away but never followed through until recently. My 5 year old was having a fit after practice and on our way home he decided to open the car door because I wouldn’t go back for his water bottle. So needless to say he got all of his toys taken away as punishment. He now behaves so much better and has even more of an imagination. I feel like it was the best decision I have made. He has earned back a few things and takes care of them so much better. When we go to the store he asks to look at the toys but doesn’t throw a fit about not being able to get one. I recommend trying it.

  276. My friend recommended this post and I agree — I have seriously reduced the amount of toys we have in the house and I cannot believe what a difference it makes. The kids are so much more happy and get along so much better. Wow. Who would have guessed having LESS makes them get along better.

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  278. I love this! I would never ever get rid of ALL the toys, but would be very happy with the ‘bare’ essentials…the thing I get most afraid of is, how am I getting my $$ back from these things? I don’t want to just donate them… I would be wasting all this money if I just donated them…I really think a yard sale would be extremely beneficial 🙂 thanks for writing this and I wholeheartedly understand your point of view!

  279. Hi! I am actually glad of this post. I, too, as a mother, have noticed my child’s discontentment with what he has and it may be compounded by the fact that he is a 6.5 year-old only child. He would rather be in the living room with us just “being” than in his room with his toys. I actually reduced his number of toys by 50% awhile back and he hasn’t missed anything. I plan to down-size more now that he is a first grader and is spending more time on academics and extra-curricular. I commend you. The fight over keeping a room clean is constant and infuriating. It drives a wedge between you and your child. They are, truly, overwhelmed. Its too much for their brains. My mother and father did the same thing limiting me to 1 or 2 toys at a time and then giving them back at the end of the day. I remember being quite content to play outdoors or read for hours on end. Thanks for having the courage to post this in a world where more, is better and children are deserving of whatever they feel they want. Cheers!

  280. Excellent post and very well said, thank you. Do not worry about the critics, a simple life for our children will help them to develop into better human beings, that is our wish as parents. I love your blog and I commend you for being brave and saying it like it is. Keep up the great work!

  281. Just saw this, and had to comment…

    My daughter, being an only child and only grandchild, has always had wayyyy too much stuff. I knew it, but kept putting off clearing it out because i didn’t feel like dealing with the tantrums I was sure would result. Well, a few years back–I think my daughter was probably 10–we were getting ready to repaint her room, and I finally did it. I took EVERYTHING out, and boxed it up. Every single thing. I labeled the boxes so everything would be easy to find, and told my daughter that as she found she needed stuff, we’d unpack it and put it back in her room. Well, long story short, literally 90% of the boxed-up stuff was donated a few years later–we had kept it in the garage so she had access to it if she wanted it, so it was definitely her decision–she didn’t WANT all the clutter!

  282. Thank you so much for this post! I found this while searching for advice on simplifying and getting rid of toys. I have already seen a big difference in my 3 boys over the past 1-2 years as we have slowly reduced the toys. Now we are ready to jump in and super simplify! I really do not understand the people who had negative things to say, at all. It makes me feel ill thinking of all the excess we have in the US. Thank you for encouraging me to teach my children to live in a world where there is little value on things and much more value on people and experiences.

  283. We moved recently. The kids’ toys didn’t get unpacked right away. They were so busy playing outside and with each other that it didn’t really enter my mind that they needed to be unpacked. I’ve pulled out a few of their toys and they do play with them, but the rest remain in boxes. I will finish sorting through them, store some to possibly pull out at a later date while putting some of their current ones away and give many away. There are times I think they still have too many toys. This is a work in progress, but I totally understand and agree that kids don’t need all the toys that they can end up with. I like the idea of keeping the toys up and pulling out a toy for the day. I may have to try that. Thank you.

  284. I find it a little ironic that I got the link for this from a store’s (Kohl’s) Pinterest page. That said, my husband and I have started to do this without realizing we were doing it. We have boxes of toys, many unopened, in our garage, waiting for Christmas to donate them to families that have much less. We’re probably 40-50% purged, if I had to guess. Here is my one concern, and I hope you’ve figured this out since you’ve been at this for a year — how do you get other people (grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.) to stop buying for your kids at holidays and birthdays? I find they just perpetuate the problem and I don’t know how to make it stop.

  285. I commented a couple days ago, forgot one thing…my daughter was so happy to not have so much “stuff” that we came up with a way to keep it under control (after all, she is still an only grandchild with a grandma who LOVES to shop)…for every new item she receives, she has to choose an older one to donate to someone else. It keeps the clutter under control, and she knows she’s helping someone else who might not have as much.

  286. I have on occasion usually as a punishment removed all of my sons ( he’s three) toys and he has too earn them back ( usually after he has trashed his room and i do mean trashed). he has never asked for one of them. last week i removed 2/3 of his clothes as these get strewn around his room when he is not happy and tidied into the dirty washing basket instead of put away. so everything size 4 and over was packed away til he out wears or out grows what he has. however this post which i found today has inspired me to pack up all his toys this week. sort thru them and discard what he doesn’t love. most of it he wont miss but if given the option gets quite upset about giving some of his toys away.

  287. Your blog seriously offends me to the point of rage! I can imagine my stepmom doing that manipulation to her children. You almost remind me of that “Mommie Dearest” Joan Crawford with what feels like absolute control over your children’s toys. (Joan Crawford, from what I remember in the movie let her adopted daughter Christina keep only one out of ten toys gifts she received, and made her give the rest to charity, probably for tax exemptions or something). Would you like it if your parents did that to you? How about somebody step in & take away every material thing of YOURS? Contradict me all you want on this! I won’t be changing my mind!

    1. My parents always counseled me at the toy store about what they would buy me and then I had money to buy my own stuff. We were never denied things like in Mommy Dearest. The things they bought us weren’t always traditional “everybody’s-got-one-so-I-need-one-too” items. Sometimes it was spurred on by a genuine interest in a subject. Thus, one–very appreciated–gift my parents gave me was a medical encyclopedia (because I keep reading the old ones on the shelf), craft books, a chemistry set, and charcoal pencils. And Dad was good for a fruitful trip to the library regularly.

      My mom is the queen of redirection. One time I was down at the gas fireplace and was charring burnt matches, finding I could write on the tiles with the charred wood. I got a big-time scolding by Mom for that. (You’ll get burned, get away from that, don’t play with it, etc.) Then the next day she came home with a charcoal pencil set plus a big notebook of art paper. It surprised me, to say the least! But it also told me that Mom wanted to promote my creativity, not hold things away from me.

      And when it was Back-to-School shopping time, we allowed ourselves to buy a number of nifty creative things for home (no, we couldn’t bring them to school, more’s the pity).

      Mom never bought dolls for us (that’s a whole different subject) but she did not object to us buying stuff with our own allowances. And, yeah, there were things we had to earn back. There were also things that were threatened to be put on my Gram’s bonfire! That made us pick up whatever it was fairly quickly!

  288. Oh, how I’ve fantasized about doing the same thing. I usually use the threat, “You have thirty minutes to pick up whatever you see on the floor and put it where it belongs, and if I come back and see no change to this room, I’m coming back with a plastic bag and grabbing everything I see on the floor and donating it.” That usually gets tears from one or both of them–along with protestations of “But that’s not enough time!” or “But we don’t know where to put everything!” That second comment, to me, means they have more stuff than their room can hold. They have shelves and drawers for their toys (Barbies, baby dolls, doll clothes, Barbie doll clothes, ponies, etc.) and for their yarn and art/craft supplies, but their room is overflowing, and the only way I see out of that is a serious purge.
    The downstairs playroom is also a disaster. I’m hitting that room first. Dominic plays with one toy for all of five minutes before he moves to something else, and everything gets left on the floor. Not worth it. NOBODY likes to spend time in that room, right now, so the room is basically unused for most of the day.
    Thank you for the inspiration! 🙂

  289. omgosh….Reading this post for the first time and I LOVE it. As I was reading your words, I felt like I could write this! Good for you and I can relate completely on many levels! Thank you for this! I needed to hear it! I once took ALL my sons toys out of his room to bins in the basement and he only wanted a few back (which he earned). There are still 2 bins full of toys from a month ago that he’s never even ask back for!. Again, thank you! My kids are 2 1/2yrs (girl) and 5(boy)

  290. What an inspiration! I have been at a loss with all the clutter. Things pretty much feel apart for me 4 years ago. I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with my 3rd baby. All Boy’s practically 2 years apart. My Husband of 8 years (we were together a total of 10) decided he would leave. With Hormones raging I thought I was going to loose my mind. I had a 4yr old, 2yr old and one on the way. I cried every moment of the day. My heart was broke. I hurt for my children who wanted their daddy as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong our life was not a dream world. We moved in with my Parents shortly after my dad found out he was in the final stage of Cancer that was basically all over his body. This was 1 year before we married. 3 months to the day that we found out my dad was sick he passed away. My mom was devastated and lost. A strong woman who pushed on to care for her mother & family even though she was very sad. 3 months following her loosing the man she loved her mother passed. All of this weighing her down physically & emotionally. We packed up to travel 1500 miles to reunite my grandmother with her Love, my Grandpa, who had passed several years earlier. My mom not well survived the 2 weeks and we returned home. Still not feeling well we took her to the hospital where she was admitted for a bad case of Pneumonia. Day’s passed and time went by. On my Wedding Day she was there. My Best Friend my Mother. The woman who always took care of it all. She walked me down the aisle and gave me away. In February 2004 she had an Aneurysm rupture in her brain. Taken by Helicopter to Tampa General 2 hours from our home for treatment. My world was crashing. 7 hours of brain surgery to stop the bleeding and a month of being kept in a medicated coma not knowing if she would recover or even if she would know her family if she did. Long story short she did recover somewhat. She could no longer drive and could no longer live on her own. My youngest Brother who was only 14 needed cared for and I stepped up. My mom was the one person who had always been there for me and it was my turn to return the deed. Life was a struggle. 2 homes 3 families all on one property. With that said let me back to where things seem to fall apart for me. With dad & grandma passing & mom recovering I now had 2 homes filled with all of their things and not sure what to do with any of it. I have never been very Materialistic (I thought but maybe I am). Everyone was like just throw it out get rid of it. My emotions & heart spoke for me. These Items were now my mothers and she was not gone. I had no right to throw items out….. Did I (?). I packed up things that I thought she may someday want and began moving them into storage so they were out of the way but here if she wanted them. Storage is where they still sit today. Mom was no longer mom. What happened to the woman who was my best friend? She hated me and her actions spoke volumes. She wanted to be dead. She missed my dad and felt she had nothing. (still wishes she was even with 5 children, 14 grand, 5 greatgrands) I still care for mom and would never turn my back to her. In 2009 my husband left. My youngest at the time cried every single night from that point on for the next 4 years. With their mommy crying about everything they where always asking if I am sad. I remember on day just as the sun was coming up I was laying in bed a fat & pregnant emotional mess, crying & praying about our life. My 2yr old wakes from his sleep me not noticing him watching me, moves closer to me and says “Don’t cry Mommy Daddy home soon.” I lost it I wrapped him in my arms held him tight and said I know baby everything is going to be ok. I gave birth shortly after that day to a healthy baby boy…. or so I thought. 1 hour after birth as my husband says he is leaving (yes he came for the birth) I coughed and was embarrassed as I thought I peed the bed. Still Numb from epidural he said just tell the nurse she will clean it up, I’ll call later and out the door he’s gone. My sister returning I told her & at the moment everything changed. I felt my life draining. Most of it is a blur. The nurse yelled calling codes, people running in & out of the room. I remember my Doctor coming in and saying I am so sorry this is going to hurt like Hell. Someone then asks if I will accept blood. I was hemorrhaging. All I could think of is my 3 sweet babies & the man I Loved who just walked out the door. Praying that God would not take me from them because i was all they had. I survived obviously. The next year was a long road. I had the baby blues, I was depressed, I wasn’t sleeping but maybe 3 hours a night & he had filed for a divorce. This could not be my life. I worked so hard to get here. I was 30 when I got married & 33 before I had our 1st baby. Where did I go wrong? I kept pushing along. Cleaning & cleaning & cleaning. I felt like I never got to shower or even use the bathroom. I was now a single parent doing everything on top of being a caregiver to my mom & helping & supporting my sister & her family. Can you say Door Mat because that is what I have become. There is not 1 room in my house that I am happy with. There is clutter everywhere. It is like I am breeding Trash. A year after the birth of my 3rd son my doctor diagnoses me with Thyroid disease. She said I do not even know how you get up out of bed. My response was I have no choice they depend on me. I have ADD and it has always been a struggle to keep on track in everything I do. I am a list maker & loser lol. With all that was going on now I deal with a Thyroid that does not work, Depression & ADD. Now taking medication for the rest of my life. Blood work every 3 months to monitor everything and raise meds as needed. Due to my Thyroid I now have to take Cholesterol Medication as well. Daily chores are a struggle. I am a single mommy of 3, a caregiver, Self employed royal mess. I want a clean organized home. I work on it everyday. Someday’s are better then others. I have threatened to pack it all but then I feel bad and do not follow through. After reading this, Today I will pack it all and remove it from our home. My boy’s are great kids but they have become ungrateful & greedy. The worst part of it….. I made them this way. I guess I was over compensating for their dad not being here for them. He is busy making a life with his GF and her children, seeing ours every other weekend from Sat.10/11am until Sunday 6pm. He has always been welcome to visit anytime in between and I have even invited him for Dinners & Play dates at the park. His choice not to. I handle every school function, Drs appt., Holiday etc. Anyway back to it. They are my life I love them with all I am & never in a million years was I trying to make them greedy. They know how to play my heart. I am learning to ignore the tears & the begging. It has been a struggle but one day at a time. Today will be a big shock when they return from school and the mess is gone and the room is empty. I really think this will be a Giant step for me as a mom and getting things in my life back on track. I hate seeing all of the mess. It is not only depressing but it really weighs me down. I get lost in it all and do not know where to start. Thanks for sharing this time in your life to help others like me see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am focused and looking for ours. God Bless

  291. This post is great! I have been struggling with my 5 year old and his massive amount of junk in his playroom. It is always a mess and he never wants to clean it. I have threatened and threatened to take all his toys away. Maybe I will actually do it. Or at least a lot of them. We always go through and donate toys when he gets new ones, but he still has an obscene amount of stuff. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for sharing your struggles and triumphs in YOUR parenting. I read another great blog that talked about moms not comparing themselves to other moms, that all of us are the best we can be, that we are good enough the way we are. Maybe the moms that are judging you for this should take a step back and realize that your parenting is your parenting. Thank you again!

  292. KUDOS! KUDOS! KUDOS! I commend you for your efforts and sticking to your guns! I am actually in the process of decluttering my life and therefore my entire home and have just begun to tackle the toys. This post is inspiring….and I see absolutely NOTHING wrong with limiting toys and screen time!

  293. In no way shape or form can you be judged for your article. Your experiment that became your reality was by your own admission a surprising success. Lets not forget the truth teller in the results! Your children who do not lie! You are a better person for having this experience and your children will benefit. I don’t know you, I haven’t followed your blogs. This is the first article I have read of yours. I’m particularly sad reading your update and having to justify yourself. Thank you for your article and the reminder in a truth that you were able to prove in the results of your actions.

  294. Wow I actually just now found this blog mainly in that strange part of the internet that you look for something click click click some more and wind up somewhere! I don’t have children but will just start my (hopefully soon upcoming family) out with less I think if you start with less you won’t have to take away !! If they don’t know THEY won’t care, Give what they need and spend more time rather than buy tons of
    “stuff” IM GLAD I ran across this blog something certainly to implement while raising children.

  295. Hi !
    Thanks a lot for this article.
    I don’t have children, but I think I’m a shopaholic too, and your article made me feel good with the idea of throwing things. Or sell them, no mess !
    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind me to translate your article in French ? I’m French, and I hope that what you say can be read in other languages. I can relay it on my own blog, and publicate it on Facebook too. Of course, I’ll send you the translation to be published on your own blog !
    Thanks for your answer !
    Emilie 🙂

  296. Well immediately after posting my previous comment about not being able to read the post, the page magically reloaded with the full post!!! I finally got to read it yay!!!
    I have to say I stumbled onto your blog through Pinterest and your 31 spending freeze challenge (I’m on day #2 btw!), I decided I liked your writing style and poked around your blog and read your story of Amazing Grace and this one now. You are truly an inspiring woman! Your story had me in tears and I am so proud of you and awed by your journey!
    This post like many of your other has made me want to get off my rear and take stock of my own life and reevaluate so of the things we do with our kids! Being bi-polar II (different form which involves much more depression and less manic mood shifts) it is hard for me at times to get control of my life and keep things from falling apart. Most days I wake up feeling cemented to my bed and if it weren’t for my kids I would probably just stay there. I don’t take any medications because when I tried them it turned me into a half functioning zombie incapable of concentrating on more than one thing, it became dangerous because my mommy spidey sense disappeared and if I was doing something like cooking or diving I couldn’t pay attention to my kids, I’d burn dinners because while making veggies on the stove top I’d forget the main dish was in the oven below me! I went to a therapist (through a medical study for a new treatment) that taught me how to manage without meds and force myself to function. Even one weekend of sleeping in makes it hard for me to get back on track and staying up too late will turn into days with no sleep. So it is a challenge that honestly my kids are more than worth the struggle and the smile I put on my face before I trudge into their room at 6:30 am 🙂
    We have a room full of toys that I’m tired of cleaning. They only play with a few of the things that they have and even those they have an over abundance of (Polly pockets, baby dolls, blocks and cars). I warned them last week that the next time I have to clean the toy room it will become my office instead and since they are not allowed toys in the bedrooms that meant they would loose their toys. I have taken toys away before by the trash bag full but guilt always wins and I end up returning them.
    They day before we started our spend freeze I had bought 6 plastic bins ($2 each) I had planned to use for my garden next year, hubs who is much better than my 2 black thumbs informed me that these would not work for my intended purpose since they were a super clearance at an oddball store they are not returnable, guess what they are going to get used for now!
    Since I keep an inventory of my pantry & freezer to start with I am going to skip that today and go attack the toy room! Luckily yesterday on my way home from an appointment I passed a house with their yard sale leftover and a big free sign and acquired the perfect size desk that I’ve been hunting for which is now randomly sitting in my living room so today it will find a home!
    You are an awesome Mom!!! Don’t let the nay Sayers get you down! No one knows better what works and is right for your children than their own parents. Its time for me to take that advice myself and stop making excuses and letting other make me feel guilty and second guess my choices. My boys both have ADHD (no meds for them either!) and they need less distraction and more quality family time! Thank you again!!!

  297. This is the best, most amazing thing I have ever read. I can only imagine some of the harsher/judgemental comments you have receied were probably coming from moms who feel convicted and know this may be a problem in their home too but don’t have the guts to do anything about it. When my kids are cranky/bored my first response is that they need more toys. SO unbiblical! I think our house is in need of a total clean sweep too. My kids are so discontent, and unwilling to share.

    Thank you for sharing!

  298. Learning to live with less is much needed, especially in today’s world! I not only try to teach my kids this principle, but am still trying to keep myself from getting things I dont really need. I think what you did was great! I totally agree-just ignore the ones who don’t! And you have to do what you think is best for your kids..after all, you know them best. To me they look totally joyful in their pictures. It looks like you are doing a great job! Keep it up and keep blogging and pinning b/c I just started following you on Pinterest. Thanks! Meg

  299. My name is joy and I base in USA…“My life is back!!! After 14 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids . I felt like my life was about to end i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a spell caster called High Priest ADODO which i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I was searching for a good spell caster that can solve my problems. I came across allot of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb,cure cancer,and other sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. i also come across one particular testimony,it was about a woman called Sonia,she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 7 days and reverse the effect of their little boys cancer, and at the end of her testimony she dropped High Priest ADODO ‘s e-mail address. After reading all these,I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 3 days, my husband came back to me. We solved our issues, and we are even happier than before. High Priest ADODO is really a gifted man and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man… If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems for you. Try High Priest ADODO anytime, he might be the answer to your problems. Here’s his contact:{adodospelltemple@gmail.com}.

  300. Ruth, thank you SO much for posting this. As I read your story, I kept feeling like I could have written everything you said (not nearly as well though!!). Out boys have SO MUCH stuff. Their toy room is a nightmare. (Toy room…what a first world problem.) I go in there maybe once a week because it’s the one room in the house I hate so much. The fighting, arguing, nagging, pleading, and frustration that happens any time I mention cleaning up the toy room is just too much. I have weeded, boxed up, organized, labeled, taught my boys what to do to keep it clean….everything but lighting the room on fire. The idea to just take it all away has been in the back of my mind for awhile now. You have given me the courage to do it. Thank you!! I’m excited. I’m excited to help my boys become un-desensitized (is that a word?) to the things around them. I look forward to having that room back in our house. I think there will be more smiles and fun than there is now. I feel like there is too much – it’s like offering them junk food or alcohol or other mind numbing stimulants ALL.THE.TIME. Thank you for your courage to write what has been in the back of my brain but trying to surface. I can’t wait to read more of your blog. Thank you Ruth!!!

  301. I accidentally did this with my son two years ago. We cleared his room to put in a new bed and he asked that we leave everything out. He never asked for anything back! In the two years he has accumulated a few things, but hasn’t missed the toys at all. Now I never feel guilty throwing out small plastic toy shaped objects or donating things the kids say they don’t want. I found your blog on pinterest and am looking forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing this – I may do your version with my daughter, who might be as you described “addicted” to stuff.

  302. I absolutely LOVE both your blog and this specific post. Currently I do not have any children but I find myself talking with my boyfriend about ‘what we are going to do when we have kids.’ Its unrealistic for me to believe that all the things I say that I’ll do, or even half of them I say, I will ever follow through on. This is one area that I hope I do follow through on. I grew up spending time outdoors; camping, playing, imagining, picking rocks (because that’s what you do when you’re bored and like to be outside?) and when I hear a child ‘bored’ that has no comprehension of what it means to find themselves something to do that does not include a TV, Computer, Video Game, or any electronic it baffles my mind. I doubt I will limit all toys, but I certainly hope that I can limit it to things that evoke imagination and movement. Thanks for showing that it CAN be done! That makes me think, how in the world do you limit what people GIVE you as gifts for the children? Donate it?

  303. I love this.
    I am not a parent yet, but for years I have desired to raise my children in this way. I have had the great honor to work overseas in some of the poorest communities doing Intercultural work, My longest term was two years I worked in New Delhi, India. It always baffled me just how much fun the children who lived in the slums were having. Genuinely happy. Content. and they literally have NOTHING. (trust me, it’s not like the commercials that are trying to convince you to sponsor a child who portray these children as sad, desperate, etc.) NOTE: Please don’t read that and hear that I don’t support these charities–these children do need food, education, etc to end the cycle of poverty–however, they do not need toys! These children play for hours with old soda bottles they converted into soccer balls, dolls. THEY HAVE SO MUCH FUN. THEY ARE JOYFUL, FREE, They are KIDS, and they PLAY. They are so innovative, creative, grateful for what they do have–and PROUD of showing you their houses(well…tarp enclosures). Its beautiful really.

    Are children with toys more happy. I say NO. And I hope to raise my children with the same intention as you.
    Thank you for sharing!

  304. i just found your ‘one year later’ post via pinterest and i knew i had to read the whole story! and good for you momma!!! our kids have way too much stuff!!! period!!! and it was so awesome that they said they just use their imagination and then they dont have to clean up! lol kids are overindulged and over stimulated and are constantly bombarded by the newest toy or game on tv. good for you!!!

  305. I agree with you wholeheartedly, we think that we are giving our children the “best” when we shower them in all the things they want, when, in truth, all they really need is our time and love. I learned with my two sons that kids are much happier and content when they don’t have so many “things” overwhelming their life, but time and attention to who they are as people help to form character in them.

  306. I am going to do this although it might take some time for my husband to get on board. I have already decided that I personally will go first. I am a sewer and crafter that has collected way too much that I likely will never use. I also hang on to many things for sentimental purposes and often over time forget where they came from or what the meaning was. I am going to purge my own belongings in a major way and then help my boys cut down theirs. Hopefully this will help my husband do his too!

  307. About a month ago, I bought 7 laundry bags from the dollar store. My two girls, two of my four children, were horrified as I nicely organized each bag to have some toys in it to stimulate different parts of their brain. I.e. something musical, plush, building, etc. My oldest girl cried as she explained to my youngest girl that she had to say ‘bye-bye’ to the toys as Mommy was taking them away. (She’s our drama queen.) My plan was to give them a new bag every day for them to play with, and they would have an easy clean up before bed by throwing all of the toys back in the bag. The next morning, they excitedly got out one bag and played with the toys all day long. The following morning, when it was time to choose another bag, they declined and played pretend with each other…sans tons of toys!!! Since then, THEY HAVE NOT TOUCHED ONE TOY that was put in the bags. And don’t worry, they don’t fill their time with the TV.

    1. This is great! My husband and I talked it over and we both decided that this was the best idea for our home. We don’t plan on getting rid of them…well, at least not all of them, but we do plan on giving them to them in controlled situations, so as to prevent all toys from scattering all over the house.

  308. When I was 8-9 my parents took all the toys out of my room and it has effected me very much negatively. The reason I was so attached to my toys was the lack of attention. Now I am 16 and have purchased my old dollhouse I had as a child and regularly play with it. Taking your kids toys away doesn’t work for everyone.

  309. When I first seen this I thought, wow, I can see how this would be an interesting test and how so many people would completely criticize for it. I haven’t had to do this because well, My son basically does this to himself. We do this thing about every 6 months to a year called “keep it or give it away.” Neither of my kids have toy boxes. only shelves where they store the things they like and some bins for the small stuff. We recently did this “game” again with my son and I want to say he just gave away about 80% of the toys he actually does have. His shelves look so bare. But in all reality even though it surprised me with some things because he loves his super heroes and he gave several away, he only kept the things that he currently plays with. a box of Legos, bin of dragons, bin of cars, some dress up stuff. We had to explain to him that some things could be left on the high shelves as just decoration. My daughter is two and this is the first time we have done this with her as well. I didn’t expect it to go very well, but surprisingly she did ok. we had a whole laundry basket of items. but again they both done’ have as many things as other kids I know. I know you may never get to reading this as you have so many posts, but I wanted to post anyway. I love that my kids only keep what they play with and are OK with giving away the other items to someone else. We have already talked to my son about informing the family next year that gifts need to be on the minimum and if they want to present something we would like for it to be towards tickets for our vacations (like our year passes to Disney). My son was ALL for it. Another thing I can say is that I notice my kids take care of that they do have and seem to appreciate the things they like to play with more then many other kids and I like to see that. they don’t just break something and move on. I also read your update and am glad to see it is going well. I would love to have an attic to stick some items, but don’t. we give anything they don’t currently want away. Since we are in the country putting anything into the shed or barn would mean that it would not make it back in. Best of luck continuing your journey. 🙂

  310. Doesn’t work over here in Britain. Not one iota.
    Kids want to play with toys, let them make their own mistakes, providing it’s not lethal or sexually harmful.


  312. I’ am a new reader, sent from my love of Edies blog and Pinterest and Love love love all that you have to say. This post, and others like it here, about purging and minimalizing really speak to me. I love to shop, but I am constantly battling stuff and organization in my home. I am on a mission to save money, clean out and as I do and blog about it, I’ll let you know how it’s going:) thanks for being an inspiration and don’t listen to the negatives…everyone has their own thing and maybe this just struck them way too hard. I work in an elementary school as a counselor and I see the consequences of overindulgence in children far too often. If more parents were like you, our younger generation would not be as spoiled and hard to entertain as they are! Thanks again!

  313. I’m sorry but I feel that it is alright to take some of the toys away but not all. Play is an essential part of a child’s cognitive and motor development and by denying them this I feel it is depriving them of the opportunity to further those skills. As defined by sociologist George Herbert Mead.

    1. Did you read the whole thing? She didnt take ALL away…they have their dolls, doll clothes, books, art and craft supplies and legos for that reason ..NO kid NEEDS more than that!

  314. good on you – we all have too much stuff. period. we need less attachment to the stuff and more attachment to each other.

  315. So happy to read this blog. I did the same with my children. I told them they needed to learn to appreciate what they have. I wish my two would have learned as well as this lady’s, but I am still working on them. 🙂 I’ve told them they aren’t getting toys for Christmas. I have tried to teach them the value of money. My son, 8, gets a small allowance. He tithes, saves and gets to spend out of his $10 a month. This has actually been a success as he thinks hard before buying anything. He even saved b-day money and allowance to purchase a Wii game called Skylanders. I love my children but they can get overloaded with stuff.

  316. I LOVE this. I am just now reading this, and it really strikes a chord with me. We live in a tiny house, and there are always toys out. The toys are out of control…and we really don’t have all that many, but I have been thinking along these lines. We homeschool, and these types of things tend to get in the way… the clean up alone gets in the way. SO, thank you for sharing your story.

  317. Ruth, Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. We have 5 kiddos, all very close in age, and I have often felt that they have too much. I have weeded their stuff over and over and it seems to multiply. I love your attitude of “less is more.” I often tell my hubby that we need to just toss it all. I have just one question for you – and I am sincerely curious, not trying to be a smart alec or anything – how do you handle Christmas and birthdays? I always feel that we go overboard and every year we say we will do less, but fall prey to the stores. I would really love your advice on this as the “season to spend” is upon us. Thanks again for this post!! Gives me lots to think about!!

  318. I have to say in my opinion you are spot on! I don’t read a lot of personal opinions of others, but yours intrigued me because of Christmas coming. I only have teenagers now and there are only a few toys in our house. Each time we have moved, I have cleaned them out more and more. Now the toys are replaced with electronics. Who wants to play with toys these days when electronics entertain us all of our waking hours? I was considering buying electronics this year as we have kept them out for the most part and read your comments and it has reminded me of what is most important. Although there are a lot of good ways they are used, they too can consume our lives and distract us from the “best” things in life! I fear to lose the hardworking, time spent one on one, friendships created as a family when there is too much of anything outside of that in our lives. Thank you for being courageous enough to share your insight as a mother and the great results you have found. It is truly heartwarming to me.

  319. I am about to do this myself. Not sure if I will take everything away, but I am planning on paring it down to the top 10 items or so. My kids basically play with the same handful of things every day and the rest just languishes in the depths of the pile of toys in our playroom. Just more stuff for the baby to throw around the house and for us to have to clean up! Thanks for sharing this.

  320. I’m 5 months pregnant with our first born and just stumbled across this post on Pinterest. My husband and I both talk about how we want to give as much as we can, but not all things have to be in the tangible form. This post just confirms my exact thoughts on how we don’t want our child’s room full of toys! I love everything about this post and going to read your one year report now!

  321. Wow! I have done this except I was not nice enough to keep the toys. I filled three large dumpsters. Yes we had enough toys to fill 3 dumpsters! The sad thing is there was not enough respect from my mother-in-law to make the point. As soon as she saw that the toys were gone, she immediately went to the store and replaced them. 🙁 I have been working full time as a temporary secretary and my hope is that after it ends, I will be getting rid of almost everything, they don’t play with most of it put we still have to clean it up everyday! Most of the time they don’t even know how it got on the floor! I am so glad that I saw this post! I am glad that I am not the only mom that would get rid of all the toys!

  322. Ruth…when I read this post, it was like you were reading my mind! As of the past couple weeks, I’ve been sorting and purging my children’s toys and “things” and we’ve gotten rid of roughly 30% so far. Your post is total inspiration. This is going to be ongoing but with what we’ve done so far, I’ve seen a glimpse of success. I reorganized our basement toy/play room last night and only put out a few select things…like a little wicker table with two chairs, a teapot, and two cups and saucers…my children played all evening with that. It was so refreshing. And when I turn the tv off, I find that they don’t miss it! Really, I have been the one using the tv as a filler, entertainer which is wrong. Thanks for your post!

  323. This is great! I’ve been thinking along these lines for a while but have not gone brought with anything. Now with Christmas coming, I would love to know be overwhelmed with pointless toys that my kids will lose interest in in a few days. How to convey this to the grandparents is the difficult part for me because they do equate gift giving with happiness instead of quality time. Loved this article!!

  324. I love everything about this post! I too notice a greater contentment and use of imagination in my girls when we have less “stuff” everywhere. I plan to look for more ways to purge and live simply! Thank you for sharing.

  325. I have been thinking about doing this for a long time. My two boys (ages 8 and 5) never play with their toys yet we still keep them around!!! It’s totally crazy! I was thinking of doing it when they were out of the house so they wouldn’t notice and I wouldn’t have to hear any protests but now I”m not sure…..I don’t think what you did is cruel at all. It’s so great!

  326. I wish I had limited the toys my children had. Now I have a tub of Duplo blocks in my den that every child no matter what age plays with. It has been there for 28 years now and it is the first thing children head for when they come to visit.

  327. I absolutely LOVE this!! But I’m curious. At what age were your girls when you did this?? I have two boys ages 2 and 6months and I’m thinking this would work for me once my youngest is old enough to understand what’s going on. Then again if I start now he wouldn’t have too because that would be all he knows. Hmm suggestions?

  328. THANK YOU!! Have you read simplicity parenting? It totally shifted my view on kids and toys. But YES I am totally with you on this. Looks like we have girls about the same age 🙂
    Found you though simple mom. Great site!

  329. I LOVE this! My daughters are 24 and 23, while my son is 15. Instead of taking away their toys. As soon as they were old enough (TWO yrs old) to understand the Goodwill Box (a basket or box that sits under a chair, near the front door) we used it. We would dump the contents of the toy box and sort through it. Any broken toys that could not be fixed were put in the trash. The toys we kept went back in, others were given away to friends, a few were placed in keepsake chests with baby clothes, and the rests were placed in the Goodwill Box. “Mom, these shorts don’t fit me” My response…put them in the GB! They continued to purge their own toys AND clothing every year before Christmas, birthdays, summer vacation and any random time they felt like it. If one started, the other two noticed and ran off to root thru their stuff. Yes, you read that correctly…I NEVER did the sorting….THEY did. Now they are mostly grown and still have the few treasured teddy bear or toys from their childhood and no clutter. It was as easy as potty training, they never knew any other way so it feels NORMAL to them! To this day, they purge their closets, let siblings have first dibs and ask that leftovers be given to Goodwill.

    1. And that’s the way things like that should be done. Arbitrarily deciding for them and not giving the kids any kind of choice in what stays or what goes only leads to grief in the long run. I’m all for getting rid of stuff that isn’t used or people don’t want to keep anymore, but the important thing is to heavily involve the kids in it and give them at least some choice in the matter.

  330. We home schooled our two sons and always limited what we bought for them. Trips to Toy’s R Us were a regular occurrence..we went on “looking visits”…they never cried or asked for anything, they had a good time..as if in a museum…..they’d go home and make something out of what they had. Our neighbors always commented on what good imaginations our sons had, and how creative they were. My oldest sons first job was in Toy’s R Us…lol…I do not regret for a minute, ever, not buying them all the latest and greatest…

  331. I confess I am that grandma who buys too much; I had my first eye opening at Christmas when I shopped for her, had a car full then helped the Salvation Army with their Christmas Elves program the following day. While my 12month old granddaughter had a boat load of gifts I was helping families load ONE BOX that contained ALL the toys for their children. It is hard for me but I bought mostly clothes this year. What I truly want for her life doesn’t come packaged so I am vowing to turn it down!

  332. I love this idea and enjoyed reading your article. Any thought on how to make this work with young children? Older infants and young toddlers want to spend a lot of time with the adults in their lives and “toys” may be the only “break” the adults get to cook, clean, and so on. I can absolutely see this working with 3/4 year old and up just not sure how to impalement this with the 8 months to 3 years especially only children…any thoughts?

  333. LOVE, love, love this article!! One of my husbands daughters (mother to 3 boys, 3, 5 & 7) has been talking about doing this for a while now. I just shared this with her. It is so awesome that you took time to share this with others. The saying “less is more” is SO true, it saddens me to see so many parents keeping their children entertained for hours on end. Let them be kids. All I know is when we were young, we had hardly any ‘toys’. We used our imagination and were never, ever bored. Sadly, with as entertained as children are kept today, we hear far too often, “I’m bored”. Ironic, isn’t it? Anyhow, thank you again for sharing your experience!! Helping families appreciate what is truly important. From a grateful grandparent…. 🙂

  334. I was just curious how old your kids are. I have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old and I want to clear out a lot of their toys already but don’t know at what age that would be good to do. My parents give minimally for the holidays due to so many grandkids but my in-laws go WAY overboard with the amount of toys and books. I know that means I need to do a purge soon to fit all the “new” things into their playroom but I’m very tired of the excess toys that don’t get put back in their place. At the same time, they’re still so young. What do you think?

  335. I came across this article via a FB post today. This is the first time I have ever visited your blog, let alone ever commented on one. As I was reading, the only thought I had was ‘you are absolutely brilliant’. As parents, we are pressured to feel that we are depriving our children if we don’t keep buying them the latest and greatest. I completely identify with you that I wanted to un-do things from my childhood when I became a parent. While I am glad that they aren’t deprived, they also have way more than is necessary.
    I haven’t read other comments and I am particularly curious as to what some of the negative feedback is. I wonder if it hit a nerve b/c people didn’t like the answers to the questions it prompted them to ask??
    After reading this article, I am definitely going to sit down and figure out where to start simplifying and how to maintain it. I’ve been married 17 years and we have three boys (one of whom is Autistic), ages 15, 13, and 4.
    Kudos to your ‘drastic’ decision. I am now following your blog and lookimg forward to getting to know you through older posts and can’t wait to read future ones.

  336. Good for you. I have blogged several times about the effects clutter has on children, but it is interesting to see what a dramatic and positive effect this had on your children. I was perfectly happy to do the 50% reduction and remove the toys to an area outside his room, and frankly my son didn’t seem to mind a bit, but now I wish I had tried the 100% reduction even for a brief time. He’s 15 now, so I don’t think it would have as big an impact, but it is an interesting thought.

  337. Ruth – I came across your blog today by accident.. I do need you to know that every minute I had a chance today I was reading your story and for some reason I can’t stop! You are truly inspiring and you make me want to be a better person, a better wife and a better mother to my children. I do absolutely agree that kids (or adults) don’t need a bunch of stuff. It really does take our time and attention from the things that really do matter. But as you also said, its much easier said than done. I commend you for being brave enough to give it a try and stand by your decision. I am seriously considering doing the same with my children.

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  339. Ruth, I am so pleased to hear another parent with the same philosophy as I have 🙂 More does NOT mean better off. I did this same thing this past Christmas. I told my children that for every toy they received, one had to be given away – once we started getting rid of toys, virtually everything went! Mostly, not by MY choice. I asked my three children what they wanted to keep and it was VERY little. They only have 5 small bins of organized toys and they are only allowed to play with one bin a day. They are content and happy!

  340. So thankful to have stumbled upon this post! I am curious, however (and didn’t see a question like this answered on your follow up page), do you think the ages of your girls made this change such a successful one? I’m wondering if they’re able to recognize the differences because they DID spend so much time with too many toys, going from one to next and really never becoming satisfied. My kids now are 2 years old and 1 1/2 weeks old, and I wonder if there’s a certain age that making a move like this would be best!

  341. Awesome post! I try to give myself permission to toss out the “stuff,” and realize that it takes more energy to keep it all than it does to get rid of it. When in doubt … I toss it (or donate.) I have never regretted getting rid of anything. Thank you!

  342. Being a “stay at home” Dad, I was immediately drawn to your article via FaceBook post from a friend. We recently (and I mean this week) did a “clutter confiscation”, and have seen some of the same results. The policy was that the children could reclaim the items by performing task. Needless to say the spirit of reclamation has not overwhelmed them. In fact, we are seeing that by previously teaching the kids that our “treasures are not here on earth”, that they have listened…and as a result could care less about getting their toys back. So through a somewhat reverse manner, I believe we have proved your point valid. Kids don’t have to have everything they want…only what they need. Like you, we as parents have learned an invaluable lesson from our own precious children.

  343. I love this !!!! Been thinking long and hard about getting rid of a lot of my two yr olds toys myself….its UNREAL the messes that are made. Ive already gotten rid of 80% of the toys and oldcoloring books crayons jewelry etc from my 10 yr olds room and it has been a huge load off of hers and my shoulders. This definitely makes me want to go home tonight and DE-CLUTTER the baby’s room now. Thank you for this article bc I felt bad for wanting to do this and now I see I was right ha! Toys are only temporary and are to entertain not overwelm and make it the only reason you get up everyday. And not buying them every single new Barbie or action figure that comes out or every new electronic device or video game, isnt the end of the world! They will survive and probably be better off anyway. 😉

  344. Hi, It is great to know I am not the only one to get rid of my kids toys. I too have gotten rid of my boys toys throughout the past years. I get tired of picking them up and putting them away. The only toys they have now are legos, trains, blocks. Of course we have tons of legos….but they can play, and build for hours!

  345. WOW! What an inspiration to read this! My kids have WAY TOO MANY TOYS! I even tried telling people not to get toys for christmas gifts and instead get things like zoo passes and such. Where do you keep all the toys so tehy don’t go get them?

  346. I love this post! I’m so glad I saw the pin. 🙂

    From the beginning, with our wee-lings (now 3 and almost 2), I have always rotated toys. It works for us right now because the toys are stored in their bedroom, which is off-limits during the day as it’s behind the baby gate, but I know we’ll have to rethink how we do things when they get a bit bigger. Rotating toys really saves my sanity. We only have a few things to pick up every day, and our oldest has already understands that if there’s something in particular that she wants to play with, she has to ask for it when she gets up, because there are no other toys brought out during the day. We also do the four-gift rule at Christmas (something to read, something they need, something they want, and something to wear). Santa Claus brings one toy as well. It’s important to my Beloved and I that they know that gifts come from us, out of love, and out of our family budget… not all from a stranger who gives them whatever they ask for.
    Also, from a lifetime of moving (I’ve moved A LOT… close to 60 times), I am a regular purge-er. If a toy hasn’t been used or played with in 6 months, I take it to the local kids consignment store or to the thrift store.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble. I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful post. Blessings on you and your family.

  347. Each to their own, and every family does what they think it is best for them, but in my opinion that was unwarranted extreme reaction and if the kids learned anything it is that you have ultimate power over them and that you get to do whatever you want. I think you based your reaction on your past and your shopping issues and did not really think of your kids. Especially the way you did it – as a punishment because they didn;t clean up and because you were fed up.
    There are plenty of ways to teach kids moderation than withdrawing all their stuff just because you felt that you have to much stuff. I also noticed that you mentioned that after a year you decided to purge the things that were your husbands and yours. Maybe you should have started with that.
    In our house we have toys, but not a lot and even less of expensive ones (I shop at thrift stores – because I see that old wooden toys are better than plastic crap sold everywhere). I don’t believe and never have that kids need every toy from the shop, not because I had any sort of trauma, but just because I see that having imagination is more important than having last model of ipad (which we don’t have either). Consequently, my daughter (now 4 years old) can create a 2 hour game out of a doll, piece of toilet paper (clean) and wooden car. Include her mini kitchen and she can play for hour longer. Mostly she loves to go to her craft closet and take piece of paper and draw or paint. All that contributes to developing imagination and rolle playing and develops social skills. I would never take that away from her. And if we go somewhere and she wants me to buy her a toy or souvenir that she just “needs to have that same second” I nicely tell her no and explain the reasoning behind it and thats it. I did the same since the first time she grabbed bag of chips in the supermarket at age 1. It does not stop her from appreciating whats important in life or enjoying the moment. We just don’t make big deal out of it – kids want stuff all the time, its up to us as a parent to teach them moderation and appreciation of everything we have. It doesn’t have to be extreme, like what you did.

  348. Wow!! Totally inspired now!! What do you do for birthdays? I have three children and I am trying to find a creative way to nicely say to party guests there are no need for gifts…or is that going too far?

  349. The fact that your children and happy and contented should be testament enough of the wisdom of your decision, The WAY you did this makes the difference. Yelling, screaming and cursing are NOT the way. You did it calmly and without anger. Great Job, mom. Congratulations for this wisdom you have exhibited.

  350. I always tried to limit my kids toys. For Christmas they get a toy from Santa a homemade gift and pj’s well, from me. Grandparents are a different story and it’s added up over the years. A few month ago I start working and kids and baby store. All the toys I wanted to get them and now the money too. It’s gotten bad but the other day I had enough. They too have label baskets and can’t seem to do anything even after repeatedly asking. So I went in and put in all in a bag I told them they could earn them back when they clean up better. A week later it’s a total disaster. So another bag is leaving today, they don’t even miss the old stuff. Although I might fish out some hotwheels. My oldest remembers them all so trading out would be good. I know he’d be grateful. But it’s given me the excuse I wanted to purge out the plastics and electronics. I’ve been working on myself too, closets cleaned out and the kitchen of unused items.

  351. Finally someone gets it!!! Our kids are bombarded by so much, isn’t home supposed to about family and time spent together? Not about sit down, shut up and play with this or watch that?

  352. I think this is a brilliant post! My little man doesn’t have loads of toys, but he has enough that in our small house we don’t have room for them and quite frankly it’s driving me nuts. We have been trying to work on his attention span and maybe, just maybe this will benefit him. We also need to limit screen time for him. We have taken away his video games already, but I think it’s time for additional changes. Whenever holidays come around I cringe, because I know he will getting more toys; we have a rule that for everything that comes in one has to go out…so why even get more presents if you have to get rid of things you already like!? We got frustrated as his birthday was recently and after opening the very few things he got (that we had prefaced) he got upset and said “where’s the rest of my presents? Where are my toys?” I am trying to figure out how to deal with holidays, obviously they are not truly about getting “things” but our culture is so focused on getting and buying that it’s only that anymore. You’ve given me the nudge I need to make some new and needed changes around here!!! Thank you!

  353. This is the first time I have come across your blog. i was reading the dry shampoo post and the title of this post was catchy. I wanted to see what it was all about. I have thought about taking my kids toys away numerous times! I feel bad and end up not doing it bc of the opinions of others. I honestly feel that my 7 year would benefit from less distraction. Maybe I will help him out with less to clean 🙂 My 10 year old doesn’t have a problem cleaning up but does not use even half of what is in his room. And I have way too much clutter in the house. Thank you for sharing!!

  354. I just came across your post, its a great Idea. My son seems very disconnected he would really benefit from this removing his toys and giving him a chance to enjoy everything around him.

  355. My husband and I are struggling with the same issues of daily cleaning of two over-stuffed rooms. I have an autoimmune disease and I cant dedicate the energy to it that I would like. The excess comes from a set of gparents who believe that time and love can be replaced with lots and lots of toys (in competition with other gparents in their own mind). I have tried to set up the 3 gift rule (1 for fun, 1 to learn with and 1 to read) even with that they find ways around it and supply a lot of toys for the kids that honestly fall by the way side. Thank you for writing such an inspiring blog.