Did anyone else panic-buy extra toys on Amazon as soon as this whole quarantine thing was announced?

It's totally normal to assume that kids need more toys to entertain them if they're spending all of their time at home, but is that really the case? There are actually some surprising benefits to having fewer toys, and they go far beyond not stepping on Legos every night after bedtime.

Here are 10 positive changes you might notice if you minimize your kids' toys.

1. Kids play creatively

Sure, you want to provide an enriching environment for your children, but a little boredom is actually a good thing for kids. Mild boredom, a lack of constant entertainment and novelty, is what inspires creativity.


If a kid has every toy known to man, how will they ever discover all of the creative uses for a stick—or how they can combine a set of blocks with a few model animals to create an elaborate zoo?

Fewer toys means kids have to get creative and use their imaginations when they play. And that creative thinking will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

2. Gratitude comes easy

When kids constantly get new toys, they grow to expect it, and it's understandably difficult for them to truly appreciate new toys, no matter how cool they are. A smaller number of new toys that are of high quality and really targeted to your child's interests are much more likely to be appreciated.

3. Siblings learn sharing

If you have more than one child, resist the urge to buy two of everything. It's actually a really great lesson when kids have to learn to share, in their own child-led way.

When a child has to wait to use the cool ride-on toy in the backyard or negotiate using the action figures together with their sibling, they learn valuable social skills that simply don't come up if there's two of everything.

It's important for parents to resist the urge to referee every conflict over toys. Establish a few simple ground rules—like whoever chooses a toy first gets to use it as long as they want—and encourage your children to negotiate the details from there.

4. Toys get taken care of

When there are toys everywhere, kids hardly notice if something breaks. Even if they love the toy, they assume a new one will quickly replace the broken one.

Next time a toy gets broken because it was left outside or someone was careless with it, don't replace it for a while. Let your child actually miss it, which helps teach the lesson to take better care of their things in the future.

5. More engaged playtime

While kids may truly believe they want all the toys, the truth is most children get overwhelmed by having too much stuff around. Having a huge volume of toys can become a distraction from deep play. Kids wind up going from activity to activity without experiencing true engagement and getting lost in their own play.

When kids have fewer options to play with, they're often able to more easily choose something to play with and experience deep focus without distraction. This kind of play is great for your child's developing attention span.

6. A tidier playroom

Many young children actually have a very strong sense of order and get great satisfaction from putting items exactly where they belong.

If there are too many toys though, enjoying that sense of order becomes really difficult for kids. They need to have a clear understanding of where each item goes and the level of mess needs to be manageable so it doesn't seem overwhelming.

Limiting the amount of toys makes it much easier to have a place for everything so that your child can be successful with cleaning up their own toys.

7. More outdoor playtime

When it comes to health, both physical and mental, kids basically can't get too much outdoor play.

Keeping fewer toys in the house will naturally lead to kids choosing outdoor play more frequently. They'll spend more time searching for acorns, riding their bikes, splashing in puddles and engaging in pretend play outside—and nothing could be better for them!

8. More money for experiences

Buying fewer toys, of course, has the obvious benefit of saving money. This may mean you have more funds to spend on family experiences like zoo or museum memberships, a family camping trip or an extracurricular class for your child.

Your child will notice you focusing more on these experiences than on stuff and will come to value experiences over things as well.

9. Boosted sense of self

When children only receive a few toys for birthdays and holidays, they very thoughtfully decide what to ask for. They think about what they actually want, what interests they want to pursue, what their hobbies are. This kind of introspection helps kids become aware of how they enjoy spending their time, and helps them develop their sense of self.

10. Love of reading

Having fewer toys means your child can be more likely to turn to books for entertainment. If there are toys everywhere, books can get lost in the shuffle, but if a kid's room has a few thoughtful toys and a basket of books in a little reading nook, they are much more likely to become little bookworms.

If you're intrigued and feel like doing a little experiment in your own house, give it a try! You don't have to go all-in, just pack away some toys in the garage for a couple of months and see what happens. Does your child miss them? Does the quality of their play change? Do they actually put away their toys when there are fewer of them to manage? With some adjustments, you will find the right balance of toys for your own home.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.


Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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