Does your child have several toys they rarely touch? Do you see them playing with spoons from the kitchen or cardboard boxes more than their actual toys? It can be frustrating to purchase nice, age-appropriate toys for our kids only to see our kids not playing with their toys.
If you are experiencing this, don’t worry. You’re not an outlier. Many parents are experiencing or have experienced the same thing.
Of course, every child is different and will gravitate toward different types of toys. However, there are a few main reasons why your kids are not playing with their toys.
Let’s dive into the reasons and how to fix it, so your kids will begin playing with their toys again!
Why Kids Don’t Play with Their Toys
If your kids aren’t playing with their toys, there are a few things going on.
First of all, kids get burnout just like we do as adults. The more toys that they have, the more overwhelmed they become. If you’ve ever witnessed a child opening lots of gifts on a birthday or holiday, you can see a child go from excited to drained, or even less happy, after several minutes.
This is not unlike a child who has way too many options at home all laid out for them to access all the time. They become overstimulated with all the choices. Just like we do at the grocery store when there are lots of versions of one product.
This also happens when all of their toys are dumped into a huge toy box. For young children especially, just the sight of an overcrowded toy box will cause them to find something else to play with someone else. Not to mention that oftentimes, most of the toys get buried to the bottom of a toy box anyways. This poses a challenge for kids too little to reach the bottom of the toy box.
Of course, there may be instances where children simply don’t want to play with a particular toy because they have outgrown it or moved on to a new fascination. But, most often, this isn’t the primary reason behind kids not playing with their toys.
If your children have a toy box or a room full of toys, they are most likely burnt out or overstimulated.
How To Help Kids to Play with Their Toys
These are pretty big emotions, especially for children who can’t process them. And it becomes frustrating as a parent because we want to see our kids playing with and enjoying their toys.
Don’t despair! We can fix this.
Here are a few easy tweaks to help get your children back to playing with their toys again!
1 | Declutter the Toys
Begin by going through the toys. You can do this together with your child or separately, whichever fits your situation. You know your child best.
Get rid of any broken toys or ones with missing pieces. Those toys can be a frustration to play since they’re incomplete, take up space, and aren’t worth the hassle.
Then sort out toys that your child has outgrown or no longer needs. Set those aside in a donate pile or trash bag to take to the donation center. Be aware of how many of the same types of toys you’re keeping, like puzzles and stuffed animals. These are categories that can quickly overflow if we aren’t vigilant. Before we know it, our house can become a zoo of stuffed animals!
Watching how many toys you own in each category will not only free up physical space, but mental space too. Which opens up more space for your child to play.
Need help decluttering? Here are 10 tips to easily declutter kids’ toys.
2 | Say Goodbye to the Toy Box
Toy boxes can be useful. To an extent. They might allow for easy clean up or be a great place to store a stuffed animal collection. But toy boxes can also be a black hole where the toys go to “live” and never see the light of day again.
If we can’t readily see something, we don’t know we have it. Like if a jewelry collection were all dumped into one container, we would struggle to find what we are looking for.
This was my experience when we downsized, and I decided to store all of my daughter’s toys in a toy box. I thought it would greatly simplify things by keeping the toys in one container.
I quickly realized that it wasn’t the most efficient way to store toys. So many got lost on the bottom of the toy box! Go figure.
My personal advice is to say goodbye to the toy box altogether. But it’s up to you. Just know that there are lots of other ways to keep toys organized besides a toy box.
3 | Organize Efficiently & Effectively
Finding a way to maximize storage yet minimize overwhelm is the key to effective toy organization.
Clear totes work well since they allow kids to see what’s inside. They can find what they’re looking for, which means they will play with their toys more often.
A cubicle shelf works well too. The toys inside are easily accessible and can be categorized by cube.
A bookshelf is a nice way to display toys for younger children and will allow them to easily grab toys and put them back.
4 | Try a Toy Rotation
One of the most effective ways to help your children actually play with their toys is to rotate them! A toy rotation is where you only put out a certain number of toys each day.
You can decide on the right amount for your child – enough for them to play with, but not so many that they become overwhelmed. Be sure to include a variety of toys in each bin. Many moms prefer to put the toys into lidded bins so they can label the bins for each day of the week.
This approach keeps the toys new, fresh, and exciting for your child. It also frees up a lot of space, reduces overwhelm, and lets your kids play with a few toys for a longer length of time.
5 | Have a Mixed Media Area
In the art world, mixed media refers to “artworks composed from a combination of different media or materials.” It could be a piece of art that incorporates clay, cloth, paint, paper, fabric, and wood into one piece.
Since kids love to play with, or craft with, mixed media materials you could dedicate a drawer or cabinet to such items. Cardboard boxes, empty toilet paper rolls, fabric scraps, and such can be available for them to employ their imaginations.
Really little ones like babies and toddlers, could have access to a low drawer in the kitchen full of measuring spoons, pots, and wooden spoons for play.
Lean into their desire to play with non-toy toys.
Time to play!
Using these 5 tips will help your children to play with their toys again. You will notice they will play for longer and use their imaginations more. Your children will be a lot happier and your home might even be cleaner – gasp! Truly a win-win.