Too Many Toys

Today's Children Have More Toys Than Ever - But Do They Really Need Them?

Whether we know it or not, almost as soon as our delightful bundle of joy arrives red-faced and screaming into the world, we have unwittingly become members of the Cluttered House Club. Gone are the days when our home is our pride and joy; where friends might turn up unannounced and find their own way from the door to the sofa. Deliberating over eye-catching ornaments for empty surfaces is but a thing of the past. Cupboards which used to house your own precious belongings will now contain little more than the Belongings of Your Sprog. For, as soon as said Bundle of Joy is old enough to walk (and supposing you are not rich enough to live in a mansion, you will have very little of your own space left at all.

Of course, we all want to see the wide eyes of our Adorable Little Bunny as she rips the paper of our lovingly chosen Christmas present. But then come the presents from Grandpa and Grandma (separate ones if they are divorced); that train from Aunt Matilda; the enormous teddy Uncle Sam couldn't resist; building blocks from the cousin she never sees; a miniature till with chip and pin from the relative she can't even remember..... The list goes on and on. And on and on. Children's toys take up a lot of space and before you can even blink, your once-sophisicated living room is suffocating under a sea of ugly plastic. And just imagine if you're planning on having another.....

A few months later, just when you think you've got the house straight (or applied for planning permission for an extension), it's the Loveable Sprog's birthday and the same thing happens all over again. Take into account all the other little 'gifts' idolising grandparents simply can't resist, and the awful realisation that Christmas does indeed come every single year, and you are starting to understand the Cluttered House Problem.

But why do we all do it? Why do we think our children need to own everything under the sun (or the roof of a cheap Chinese factory)? Is it the giant advertising campaigns that blast into our homes uninvited? Is it because we believe all these posessions give our child a better start in life? If we are truly honest, do we really want our children to have so very much?

My almost-two-year-old is just like any other child in the indulgent developed world. He has enjoyed just two Christmases and one birthday, and yet every corner of our living room is bulging with his belongings. Most of these things were not even purchased by us, his Trying-to-be-Sensible Parents, but by others who seem to think he appreciates it.

Does he appreciate it? Really and truly? Of course not. Just two months after Christmas, only one of these amazing new toys is played with on a regular basis. The rest are pulled out of the toy box, focused on for a matter of minutes, then ignored (or thrown about). Maybe he's got a concentration problem, you might ask? The beginnings of ADHD? He certainly has plenty of energy. Very manic energy, almost bordering on lunacy. Why can't he concentrate on all these lovingly bought gifts? Is it his diet? Are we not spending enough quality time with him?

The simple answer is, he can concentrate. In fact, he can concentrate very well. It's just that he spends a large amount of his day concentrating on things other than the Sea of Plastic that engulfs him. For, as time goes on, I have noticed my child gaining immense pleasure from many simple joys which do not Clutter the House. What's more he thought all of them up by himself - a true creative genius in the making. Some of the activities he likes to immerse himself in are:

Free falling from the arm of the sofa onto the cushions below

Pretending to hoover - with the real thing, not a miniature replica

Wearing other people's shoes and stomping through the house

Jumping down the kitchen step - over and over and over again

Hiding in the door curtain

Climbing on anything possible

Anything that belongs to someone else

Getting everything out of the tumble drier, way before it's ready

Lying on stomach on the floor and flapping about, pretending to be a 'fish'

Crawling through the house, pretending to be a 'snail'

Drawing.....on anything.....

Pretending the rocking chair is a 'horsey'

Getting his hands in the concrete rubble under the step his dad is attempting to fix

So, as we scour the shops for the 'perfect present' for either our Adorable Sprog or someone else's, we can rest assured that, while our small recipient may grin with pleasure at the surprise that jumps out from the colourful paper, our thoughtful gift is not needed at all. Even if we never bought our children any toys, they would, no doubt, still be happy and adept at finding other things to do. Most of us have seen clips of children in developing countries, with next to nothing and yet still smiling and happy. Scenes like these only reiterate what, deep down, we already know. No, our children do not need as many toys as they undoubtedly end up with. What's more, they would probably be just as happy without them.

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Comments 20 comments

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foreignpress 6 years ago from Denver

You're absolutely right. With the ready supply of electronic garbage, which we now refer to as toys, children have no idea how to think creatively. The worst offender is television and, more recently, the internet. Television is used as a babysitter that doesn't stop talking. It has created the proverbial couch potato that also deadens the intellect. The internet is a more silent companion that erases human interaction. It is this form of mind-numbing programming that is making us robotic and without true feeling. What happened to the inquisitive mind of children? It's interesting that the greatest literature was written before the electronic revolution. How interesting that we are, perhaps, creating ADHD and other social maladies with these electronic inventions. Thanks for a great read. You hit it on the money.

wrenfrost56 profile image

wrenfrost56 6 years ago from U.K.

So true Polly, I had the same trouble with my son, he had way to much stuff! Thankfully things have eased up a little and become more managable. :)

Polly C profile image

Polly C 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi wrenfrost, thanks for reading! Since I wrote this my son has had his second birthday and we have even more stuff. He hardly plays with any of it, all he is interested in at the moment is his 'shiny' football, which he had a bad dream avout last night - he woke up screaming his head of and in floods of tears because he thought it was in the garden!

Thanks for stopping by :)

sagebrush_mama profile image

sagebrush_mama 6 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

Such a great article, and so much of the things our kids receive are left by the wayside much too quickly. They can be quite content with scissors, paper, tape, and a cardboard box! Their imaginations are priceless, and sometimes, I think the overload of things can stifle the imaginative play of young ones.

Polly C profile image

Polly C 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi sagebrush_mama, thanks for reading and commenting. I think you're right about the stifling of imagination - it seems the more the children have, the less they know what to play with! And sometimes, the fun is in working out what to do with something; discovering a use for it - when it's already there on a plate, so to speak, it's almost as if it isn't interesting to them anymore. :)

Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

My children are 15 & 12 now and while the volume has decreased, the price per item has skyrocketed. Ipods, Nintendo units, the Wii, The Playstation, cell phones, TVS, the list is endless. We do not go overboard with our children although many of the friends report small scale electronic stores in their bed rooms.

All this to say I hear you Polly and it will get better!

Polly C profile image

Polly C 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Dobson, yes, I think I'm about to find that out sooner rather than later (the price per item, that is). I have an older son as well and he is going to be ten on sunday and guess what he wants? An Ipod touch. At first we had decided against it, but then he said he would rather have that than a party (which usually sets us back £100 or more anyway),actually we might be saving money! And he is getting really interested in music lately - he knows more than me about the recent stuff. My sister had a sony walkman when she was about seven, so I can't see the harm really.

We have the Wii too, but it is downstairs and he is only allowed on it for a limited amount of time. We don't have electronic things upstairs, not even a TV.

Thanks a lot for stopping by! Always nice to see you here :)

Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

I will be back. My kids are trading birthday parties for more expensive gifts as well.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

I remember once my uncle bought my cousin a toy of some sort (I don't remember what it was) and my cousin spent the majority of the day playing with the box from which the toy came. And my cousin's sister had so many toys she always said that she didn't have anything to play with. Mainly because she had too many choices. Too much for her little mind.

Polly C profile image

Polly C 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi kaltopsyd - I know. My son might as well not have any toys for all the time he spends playing with them. My oldest son was similar, though he has started to grow out of most of his now anyway. What is very ironic, though, is that the minute you decide to pack any of them off to the charity shop (the toys, not the children!!) they suddenly become their favourite things in the world! Oh well, you can never win with children!

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

So true! They develop a sudden interest in the once "boring" toy. I've experienced that too. :)

Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

Fun and true hub. I love your list of what your little one DOES like to play with. I too remember the days when my kiddos were young that the box (something came in )often had more appeal than the toy. I also got into the habit of taking away (without notice) many toys the day after a birthday or Christmas and then introducing them one at a time over time.

Polly C profile image

Polly C 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Truckstop Sally, many thanks for stopping by and reading. Yes, it's funny how young children often see different uses for things we give them than we expect, isn't it? My son is a few months older now than when I first wrote this hub- well, he is going to be three in a couple of months. Still his tastes are pretty simple really - even though Christmas has only just passed his favourite thing to do is kick an old foam ball around the house (he loves football). It cost £3 (around $5?) He does however like the idea of receiving lots of gifts now, but in actual fact the majority don't get much attention after the initial unwrapping.

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Ashlea B 5 years ago

so so true! my daughter has an amazing imagination, and she can "play" for hours with hardly anything (what we would call "real" toys).

Polly C profile image

Polly C 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi Ashlea B, thanks so much for your comments and for stopping by to read. I think a good imagination is one of a child's greatest assets - it is something that can develop as they grow older, helping them to grow into creative and productive young adults, as long as peer pressure and the trends of society doesn't stamp it out. Better carry on with the empty cardboard boxes then...:)

Painted Seahorse profile image

Painted Seahorse 5 years ago from Woodstock, GA

Very funny and insightful hub. I agree, kids don't really need all those toys. Look what happens when you give a small child a wrapped present--very likely he'll be more interested in the wrapping paper and the bows than what's inside. As long as kids get to run around and use their imaginations, they're happy.

Polly C profile image

Polly C 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi Painted Seahorse - thanks for your great comments. I just read through this hub again, as I published it quite a while ago now and had forgotten what I'd written. It did make me laugh actually, taking me back a good year-and-a-half in the life of my little son. He wasn't even two then, now he is three and a half. Recalling those things he spent his days immersed in is like a little bit of his childhood caught in time.

Well, he still has a lot of toys but mostly plays with a few favourites (especially Playmobil Knights). He still likes jumping about on the sofa, and falling off the back onto the seat below (more than once this has resulted in a minor accident). He has learned to play hide-and-seek (not all that well yet) and his brother's high-sleeper bed turns into some sort of pirate boat when the little girl next door comes to play. Imagination is always better than all the toys in the world... Anyway, thanks for reading :)

billips profile image

billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

Great hub - I advocate quality over quantity every time - there are some great toys out there for children of all ages, but it is eveident that too many toys can destroy a child's creativity, cause them to devalue what they already have, cause them to value material assets over non-material assets, and foster boredom and greed - you have some good hubs out there - B.

Polly C profile image

Polly C 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi there, billips, thanks for stopping by - I definitely agree with your quality over quantity comment. A few carefully chosen items usually triumph over a room full of 'one-day-wonder' toys. So often children are enticed by clever adverts, then when they actually have the toy they are bored with it after a day or so. I think so many toys today have little creative value and so after the initial excitement the novelty has gone. The real winners inspire a child's imagination so that many different games can be played out with just one toy. Once again, thanks for reading, your comment is much appreciated :)

RayRay 4 years ago

kids should have as many Tots as they want regardles if we have 2 many toys

according 2 adults....ok.........

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