I gave away 99% of my kids’ toys–Part I

We’ve been experiencing a major illness in our household. Rather than address the issue with another band-aid, like we’ve been doing, my husband and I went for the emergency surgery option:

Removed the majority of the toys from our house.

Let’s begin with my children’s symptoms:

~ constant complaints of boredom followed by a huff or eye roll when I point out all the wonderful toys they have.


~ begging for new toys every time we go anywhere.

~ constantly fighting over a single toy when there are a bazillion other toys to play with.

~ leaving toys out all over the place to be tripped on, stepped on, kicked around, or lost.

~ complete disregard and blatant disrespect for each others’ toys, space, and feelings.

On Saturday, the situation hemorrhaged:

Scene: Husband and I are browsing through Bed Bath & Beyond with our kids this past weekend. Haley finds a butterfly pillow on clearance and begs for it despite several no’s and a reminder that Christmas is right around the corner.

Finally, I lost my patience:

Me: “If I buy you that silly butterfly pillow, then I am going to give all the rest of Butterflypillowyour toys away. All of them. Clearly you don’t care about the things you already have. So we’ll give your stuff to kids who don’t have anything.”

Haley: “Okay. Yes. I want you to give my toys away. I really want this pillow. Give them away.”

Me: “Do you really care that little about all your toys? You are willing to give every toy away simply so you can have this silly pillow??”

Haley: “Yes.”

Sean: “Can I have this remote control car?”

Me: “THAT’S IT! When we get home, all the toys. Gone.”

And so we did… packed up 99% of the toys with the kids’ help and trucked the undervalued treasures off to Salvation Army.

They were left what you see here in this cupboard and their art supplies:


Afterward, as per the deal, Haley got her pillow and Sean got his car. They were given strict warning to not ask for a single thing more until Christmas.

Let me just say, none of this is my children’s fault. My husband and I are quite aware that somehow we missed the mark in parenting. While we’ve done well in teaching our kids how to love others who have very little, from the homeless in our own community to our friends in Africa, we haven’t seemed to teach them, yet, how to value and respect what they have in their own life–including each other.  We spoiled our children, giving into their whiny whims too many times. This experience has been an awakening for our entire household.

It seems extreme to take away all their toys, but I feel like in order to parent this “right,” we need to start from scratch and adjust our “material diet”– just like anyone who is revamping their physical health by cutting out all the junk. I am not saying this is the “right” way to go about it, but for us, it feels like the best way to achieve our desired outcome.

We want  our kids to become more appreciative of each other, what little they do have, and the gifts they receive at Christmas, birthdays, and other random times of the year.

I want my children to understand that their toys–all the things they have–are special gifts. I wish for their hearts to seek and find joy in all they have and do without the yearning for more, bigger, or better things.

Of course it is okay to want things. We all have a list of things that would be awesome to have–but when the attitude goes from “It’d be nice to have this” to “I must have it because what I have now isn’t good enough,” that’s when our heart is in the wrong spot. For my kids, we felt like their hearts were headed in the wrong direction.

No school day with no toys... we had friends over and did mural art!

No-school day with no toys… we had friends over and did mural art!

Only time will tell if the lesson has been learned. In the meantime, they are adjusting fairly well. They don’t seem to miss the toys; there has been no mourning, no wishing for the toys back, and no asking for new things.

Haley still complains of boredom but is resolute that it was worth giving up most of her toys for the super soft butterfly pillow.  🙂


7 thoughts on “I gave away 99% of my kids’ toys–Part I

  1. tonyroberts64

    A bold move. You raise a larger issue that so many in our culture (children and adults included) face – and that is how to be a faithful steward. We are conditioned so strongly to have more than we need and want even more that we develop unhealthy attachments to “trendy” items that come and go with the seasons. Anyway, I pray it goes well for you and your family.

    1. Leanne

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Tony. I absolutely agree. We’re parenting against the current, which makes this a bit tougher but not impossible. Thanks for the prayer… it’s much appreciated. 🙂

  2. Vinae

    I love this. I have always found it strangely refreshing to get rid of a lot of toys, and then, all of a sudden, the kids PLAY with what they HAVE! I wonder if sometimes they are overwhelmed at too many choices. By ridding ourselves of the excess, we are teaching ourselves how to use what we have, a valuable life lesson. BTW, the mural art is a great idea! 😉

    1. Leanne

      Hi Vinae! Thank you so much! Yes, after we got rid of most everything, it almost felt like the whole house breathed a sigh of relief. So far, the kids haven’t complained about missing their toys, the familyroom has stayed picked up, and everyone seems calmer.

      I think you are right about kids being overwhelmed with too many choices. Less toys has made it easier for them to play–and pretend. 🙂


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