10 Dec 2014

Can A Child Have Too Many Toys?

When my parents were over for a visit recently, my Mum kept commenting on the amount of toys Becky has, mainly with a disapproving tut and the words “It’s just too much, it’s not good for a child”. This was also frequently followed by “When I was Becky’s age, we only had  …” . Bla bla bla.

Yes, that was in post war times, and surely this isn’t comparable with a 21st century childhood.

But whether I like it or not, my Mum’s words have kind of stuck with me. Has my Mum – a former teacher – got a bit of a point? Can a child be spoilt for choice, and can a too vast amount of toys actually be overwhelming and counterproductive? Does a frequent stream of new toys actually diminish their novelty and “specialness”?

In comparison to Becky’s peers, I don’t think she has an extortionate amount of toys and gadgets. I think it’s probably somewhere in the middle ground. She has enough toys, dolls, games, ponies, Frozen paraphernalia (!), dressing up costumes, puzzles, play dough, paints etc. (not to mention games on the iPad) to give her a good amount of diversity, but her room and play room do not (yet) resemble a toy store. I do try to stay on top of things a bit, and regularly put away the stuff she has outgrown (though I will have to wheel these out again soon as Alex is getting bigger and more curious and interested in proper play and toys) to keep some kind of overview and manageable level.

The main “issue” with Becky’s toys, if you will, is that her birthday is also in December, and between Christmas and her birthday and everything John and I, my parents, John’s parents, her godparents and other friends buy her, a lot accumulates at once. I tried holding back a few toys before to distribute throughout the year, but it kind of didn’t work. And of course we do buy her things outside of birthdays and special occasions, too.

Last week the toy question once again popped up (and my Mum’s words were ringing in my ear) as I was doing some birthday and Christmas shopping for Becky. The picture above shows the amount of stuff I bought just within one short shopping trip, and although these items will be divided between her birthday and Christmas, more things have and are still arriving from what I’ve ordered online. That will be quite a considerable pile of presents.

Is this consumerism gone mad? Am I actually setting a bad example?

I admit, I love buying Becky presents, and I always light up when I see her excitement at receiving a little treat or gift. The anticipation of how happy she will be, her smiles and squeaks, how she will impatiently rip open the wrapping paper or carrier bag, how proudly she will take her favourite items to nursery …

After all, for a 4-year-old, her toys are her world, aren’t they? They are the main possessions she can truly call her own, apart from clothes and everyday items obviously, so they are significant.

But I am also conscious of the fact that we are very lucky to be able to buy her all this stuff, and I don’t want her to take this for granted and expect presents all the time and become blasé and spoilt about them. As clichéd as it sounds, there are so many children who don’t even own half the amount of things, and I do want both my kids to grow up with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the value of something.

And whilst I won’t be going on a toy-buying strike any time soon, I do want to try to keep a degree of moderation on the amount of toys she has and receives going forward and make each one count (it’s probably too late this year now, so call it a New Year’s Resolution or whatever).

Of course you can’t quantify your children’s happiness in the amount of toys they have. But the important thing for me is that both Becky and Alex grow up knowing that material things aren’t the key to happiness, and that being healthy, kind and loved is far more important. And that’s a lesson for life.

*This is a link-up with "Brilliant Blogposts" over at Honest Mum's blog, which you can view here.


  1. I can so agree with you i have 3 girls who's birthdays are december january and february, well planned ay! So it does get abit toy mad around that time of year we find ourselves buying things for the sake of it this year I've put my foot down and an am only buying them what i know they'll actually love and want! x

    1. Ha, yes, I bet that is even crazier! It's so hard to find a good balance though, because we obviously want our little ones to be happy and excited. I have gone a bit overboard this year (I also had a ton of Tesco vouchers to use up, which made matters worse as it was like a free pass to toys!), but will try to be a bit more considerate about what purchases I make in the future. :-) xx

  2. I was just thinking this the other day, both my boys have far too many toys and I'm always bagging things up for local charity shops and for the school. I've now started chores for pocket money as Oliver is nearly 5 and I really want to instill in him the value of money. Not easy though is it. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

    1. I think this will be an ongoing issue / question as the kids (and their demands) grow. I love seeing Becky's happy face, but also don't want her to take things for granted. I guess it's about finding a good balance. Thanks for your comment, Vicki! x


© Fairies & Pirates. All rights reserved.