Toy Creep: A Tale of Three Dump Trucks

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My son is 2 ½ this week and he’s more of a little boy than a toddler with each passing day. Along with boyhood comes an onslaught of toys, and I’ve been thinking a lot about their place in his life and in our home.

Before our son was born, I read everything I could on blogs about the intersection between parenting and minimalism. I devoured Rachel Jonat’s The Minimalist Mom. Later, I dove into Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, an inspiring book that advocates for fewer toys, reduced clutter, and an overall spirit of less. Both books are worth reading and will help motivate parents to get a handle on their kids’ clutter, but neither prepared me for the reality of what I’m calling “toy creep.”

Our son still has many fewer toys than his same age peers, but little by little, his collection has grown, and I can now understand how families end up with the insane amounts of playthings that I find in most homes. Let’s take my kid’s dump trucks as an example of how we all end up with so much.

Dump Truck #1 entered our lives last summer. We’d gone to visit friends at their beach house for a weekend, and I’d neglected to pack any toys. Our son didn’t need a toy (he was having a blast playing with the garden hose), but I decided we’d get him a toy dump truck that we could play with in the sand, partly out of a nostalgic desire to return to the toy store that had been in this town since my own childhood. He loved the vehicle. 

Dump Truck #2 came on the scene over the Thanksgiving break. We were headed home with a four-hour flight ahead of us, and I knew a new toy would chip away at the plane time we needed to fill. Again, he was delighted. He started referring to it as “special dumper” and the new toy went into constant rotation.

Dump Truck #3 was a Christmas gift. My husband’s father observed that his grandson loves trucks, and wisely chose a set of construction vehicles as a holiday gift. When the package arrived in the mail, our son was thrilled to discover the new dump truck.

So, here we are, the proud owners of three dump trucks. Our son happily plays with all three, and they don’t take up much room, so I have no real motivation to insist that we pare back, but I can also see how this is just the start: How long before Dump Truck #4 and Dump Truck #5 turn up? I’m trying to figure out how we begin to cull the less-loved toys, especially now that our boy has developed strong opinions about everything

If any parents of older children have advice, I’d love to hear it. And if I have any advice to share, I’ll post it here.  



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