What Happened When I Took Away Half of My Kids’ Toys

The first time I took away half of my kids’ toys it involved an “incident” that happened while I was nursing the baby.

(Maybe you remember this one….)

toy mess

The type of incident which included three jars of baby powder; me having an out-of-body experience of unreasonable calmness; a tearful vacuuming session (my tears mostly); and two toddlers requiring baths. As punishment for said incident there was mopping duty and half of their toys, specifically the ones coated in a layer of baby powder, were sent to the creepy basement with all our unfolded laundry.

(Gratuitous instagram of said creepy basement and my impressive collection of clean, unfolded laundry)


Maybe they were somehow selective about which bins of toys they tossed about and doused with baby powder. But with half of their toys in exile, I expected lots of tears. I expected them to join forces and wage a mutiny of crayon hieroglyphics and Lego traps. But they carried along like these confiscated toys were never part of their lives in the first place.

I realized two things, 1. They were fine with less. 2. When they don’t have their toys, they still find things to play with.

took away kids toys

These toys stayed in the basement for about a month. I started to pay attention to their relationship with their toys and noticed a few trends.

They had a few favourite toys. Toys they played with every single day. For Levi, it was cars and trucks. For Nena, it was dress-up clothes, which if I’m honest, have been crossing the line into daily wear. But the world needs more fairy-princess-super-elephants, in my opinion.

nena dressed up princess

Then there were all the other non-favourite toys. In order for these other toys to hold their interest for longer than it takes me to say “chocolate-covered espresso beans” the toys had to be put “in the closet.” Because it turns out, any toys we keep in the “closet of wonders” alongside other treasures like toilet paper and vitamins get a special place in the hearts of toddlers. They can’t access it, so they want it — until they’re so over it, and then back in the closet it goes

levi playing cars simple on purpose

Beyond their favourites, the cached toys, there is one other thing the kids play with. No,OBVIOUSLY not all the OTHER toys in the house! They play with all non-toy items. Like that toilet paper baby Nena tucks into the cupboard. Or that ball of yarn Levi unravels around the dining table to be his “finish lines.”

kids playing with benches, simple on purpose

The month with half their toys showed me they didn’t need more toys, all the toys. They just needed the toys they loved the most, and a cardboard box — you feel me!

Since then, we have been a lot more ruthless about clearing out the excess of toys. Here are some  Tips on Purging Kids’ Toys that have worked for us!

Make sure you stop in and visit my girl Sarah from Sarah on Purpose. I love this post digging deeper into how we invest ourselves into three main aspects of life, and what we should do when we hit a wall.

5 thoughts on “What Happened When I Took Away Half of My Kids’ Toys”

  1. I’m totally doing this. 🙂 I’ve noticed the same trend… although it’s happened because my girls haven’t cleaned up their toys, so I’ve attempted to put everything into a “time-out toy box” that goes away until they demonstrate with good behaviour that they can have their toys back… and then they and I forget about the toys for a month. I really want to do a toy purge because I’ve also noticed they don’t play with most of their toys. Thanks for sharing your tips and experience! 🙂


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