Less IS More: Clearing Out Toys & Cancelling Subscriptions

Less IS More: Clearing Out Toys & Cancelling Subscriptions

We’ve all been there. You sit down after the kids are in bed to enjoy some well-deserved uninterrupted Netflix…. and then you spend longer trying to pick out something to watch than the show itself. And chances are, the moment the show or movie gets a little slow, you pick up your phone and start scrolling. What’s up with that?!

Our attention spans are at an all-time low. And it’s not because there isn’t enough to do or see; it’s because there’s always TOO MUCH.

The same thing happens with my kids watching TV. Halfway through the new Paw Patrol episode on Nick Jr., they’re asking me to turn on the Pikachu show on Netflix. Before Pikachu is over, there’s a request for Bluey on Disney+. They can’t seem to finish even a single episode anymore without wanting to move on to something else.

And don’t even get me STARTED on how there’s “nothing to play with” despite the million toys scattered around the house (you know, the ones I spend hours picking up and organizing weekly).

We’ve all heard the old anecdote: you spend a bunch of money on a new toy only to have the kids play with the box it came in. That got me to thinking… less IS more. Why keep all these toys when a regular household item can get the job done just as well?

Recently, I decided to take action on this thought. I went through every room in the house and removed at least half the toys. Within six weeks, I sold 90% of those toys (come back next month to learn how I did that!) For this month, I wanted to focus solely on the result of that process.

Less is More- Many Toys in a Jumble On the floor

For starters, I’m happier. Those sixteen Happy Meal toys we had been holding onto for years? I only had to put them in the trash once.

There’s noticeably less clutter, which gives me more time and space to breathe instead of incessantly picking up and putting things away.

On Day One after the toy clean-up, the kids barely even noticed some of their toys were gone. And to my surprise, they weren’t upset in the least. (I held onto things that I knew were their favorites.)

My most surprising observation: watching them play with toys they hadn’t touched in months because they could SEE and FIND those toys again. In our basement, we have a play kitchen and toy supermarket, and once I got rid of all the play food items that were damaged, the whole area just looked shiny and new again.

Somehow, we managed to collect three aprons and chef hats over the past few years, so I decided to sell two and keep one. I kept holding onto everything for the “what ifs” in my head. What if all three kids want to dress up as a chef at once? What if we finally bake Christmas cookies the way I’ve envisioned in my head for years and they all want to put an apron on?

I finally decided that if we hadn’t used the item in a year, it wasn’t going to happen. That was my main criteria for figuring out what to keep and what to either sell, donate, or throw away.

Another added benefit of this process: I’ve been trying to teach the kids to clean up independently for years. Most times, I get impatient and “help” them finish the job (aka doing 80% of the work).

I kid you not, folks, the first day after this cleanup, my four-year-old cleaned up his entire room by himself for what I believe to be the first time ever! I think the sheer amount of STUFF in his room was overwhelming to him and he never knew where to start. So when he saw half as many toys to clean up, the job finally seemed manageable.

I’m taking that event alone as a huge win from all this.

After the success of the toy clearing out, I decided to apply this same logic to our monthly subscriptions.

Somehow, we subscribed to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Philo (a streaming service similar to cable). I decided to cut those in half as well and Disney+/Hulu did not make the cut.

And guess what? My kids barely noticed.

Sure, they were bummed for a minute when I told them “we don’t have Bluey anymore” but between Nick Jr. and Netflix, there are still more than enough shows to keep them occupied. I also wanted to retain Netflix for my own use, so that made the decision on what to keep a bit easier.

Bonus perk: that decision saves us almost $20/month. More money for seltzers! (Half kidding).

I think most of us get wrapped up in the idea of wanting to give our kids everything they could ever want and don’t stop to think if that’s really what’s best.

Here’s what I know: less IS more.

Whether that’s for toys, TV, or treats, don’t be afraid to get rid of it!

Stay tuned for my next article with tips on how to sell all your stuff. I can’t wait to share my experience!


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Alicia is a stay-at-home mom to Claire (5), Drake (4), and Kate (1). After growing up in western Iowa, Alicia ventured east to attend the University of Iowa and graduated in 2014 with a Political Science degree, and a minor in English. When she isn’t chasing kids, she loves finding time for scrapbooking, going on walks around the neighborhood, and watching any and every home renovation show! Alicia loves staying involved in her community, mainly through spending time in her church and volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters. With three kids under five, her advice to moms with young kids is: “prayer, coffee, and then a little more of each!”

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