Photo: How to buy fewer toys? Trade!

I didn't buy this wooden frog. We loaned it for a few weeks instead! (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

"There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be discovered in pursuing more." Joshua Becker

Are you overwhelmed by piles of wood blocks, plastic balls and musical instruments in your home?

Do your child's possessions weigh on you and make it difficult to clean your home?

Set yourself free!

Swap toys with other families you know.

Step 1: Choose five toys to loan

Hold on to your child's absolute favourites, of course, in case they get wrecked (eaten or thrown out a window) or lost all together. Pick toys to loan that are:

  • Age-appropriate (no choking hazards)
  • An interesting variety (wood, musical, plush, etc.)
  • Possibly themed (e.g., crafty, trains, dolls, dress-up, books, etc.)
  • Easily washed

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Step 2: Wash loan items

Kids (and toys) spread germs faster than you can say "My throat feels scratchy!"

  • Before you loan, wash, wipe and disinfect
  • Repeat when toys are returned to you!

Step 3: Inventory loan items

How will you know who gave you what and what exactly you loaned?

  • Label loaned items (optional)
  • Take pictures (makes it easier to return all parts and pieces to the rightful owner)
  • Make a list — keep one so you know what's out and to whom, and attach a copy to the paper or cloth "loan" bag

Step 4: Set a loan period

I like three to four weeks.

  • Stagger borrowing so your child receives cycles of "new" toys
  • Write a thank-you note when you return them (enlist your child to participate)

Step 5: Embrace other ways to consume fewer toys

Note: It's worth thinking about how you'll handle wrecked, lost or damaged toys. Will you trade something in return, replace the item or offer cash?

How have you kept yourself from drowning in toys?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

September 3, 2014

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1 Comment

Sep 16, 2014
9:02 AM

One of the things we have done for the past few years is to give our children experiences as gifts, rather than toys. For instance, we have bought them tickets to the family theatre series of plays where we live. Or, this year for my daughter’s birthday, we bought her time at a local art workshop. Our children are six and nine.

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