Day 32: Decluttering Toys: Toys I Wish I Hadn’t Bought

3,200 things gone, only 6,800 to go

I’m having a major meltdown over the toys I should not have bought my kids.  To be honest, at least 1,000 of the 3,200 items I’ve liberated from my home have been children’s toys.

It’s mind boggling.  How could anyone have that many useless or unwanted toys? For us, it was a combination of buying way too much, not organizing the toys we had, and not getting rid of anything (even junky stuff!) for over 4 years.  The overconsumption part bothers me the most.

Since I don’t get a do-over, I thought I would write a post about the toys I wish I hadn’t bought and the ones that I’d buy again. At the risk of sounding melodramatic (which comes naturally to me) –

If it prevents just one parent from buying something like this:

 – it will all be worth it.

I have boys so the lists may not be relevant to everyone:

Top 10 Toys I Wish I Hadn’t Bought

1) Pixos Super Studio Set – my boys took it apart and used the pen as a gun, spilling pixos all over the floor.  I’m still finding them.

2) Remote Control Cars/Helicopters – they may still be too young but my sons crashed these even when they weren’t trying to and the endless battery upkeep drove me nuts

3) Faddish Action Figures – Transformers, Power Rangers, Green Latern etc. My youngest, however, loves the Fisher Price Super Friends Bat Cave.

4) Thomas the Train – it’s still a mystery to me how my kids loved the Thomas display at the store but hardly touched the set at home.  I know a lot of kids and parents who love Thomas.  For a little advice on doing Thomas the right way, see this Mom’s review on Amazon. She covers all the bases.

5) Moon Sand – my kids love it but it inevitably gets all over them and all over the floor.  I actually hide this from them. How crazy is that? The new Moon Dough might be a good compromise.

6) Cheap Croquet/Golf Sets – for my boys – it all turned into hockey

7) Trendy Plush – we have more Olympic Mascots, Mario Plush, and Club Penguins than I’ll ever admit to publicly

7) Complicated Hot Wheels Sets – a simple track always kept their attention longer

9) Bionicle Building Sets – were too complicated for me to put together and parts fell off them easily leaving me with unidentifiable (and creepy) body parts

10) Complicated Crayola Sets – markers and paper work just as well and they don’t cost a fortune

Top 10 Toys I’d Buy Again

1) Play Doh – no sets – just the dough

2) Playmobil – my boys love Playmobil although they use the men and vehicles more than the larger sets

3) Fisher Price Farm/Garage – the classic versions

4) Hollow Cardboard Blocks – my kids would build these and knock them down for hours

5) Lego – my boys love lego figures and play with them a lot.  Again, large complicated sets don’t get much play.

6) Balls – all shapes, sizes and sports.

7) Soft Foam Swords 

7) Nerf Foam Dart Shooters and Nerf Water Guns – I’ll never buy a cheap knock-off again

9) Dinosaurs – make good monsters for attacking Playmobil men and for the bath

10) Little Tikes Big Car Carrier – the boys at my local playgroup used to fight over this

These are just a few things off the top of my head.  If you have some to add to either list please let me know. I’d love to hear about what toys work (or don’t work) for girls.  Or different opinions on my picks.

And, if you’ve made any obvious toy buying mistakes – please make a comment below or send a picture to  It will make me feel so much better to know I’m not alone!

In the meantime, I’m going to take solace in the words of frugal dad:

I’m not unlike any other parent. I want my kids to have things better than I did. I want them to have more. I want them to have the best. But I also want them to grasp the connection between having nice things and the sacrifice required to earn them. I want them to be able to say “no” to themselves; to avoid the trappings of debt and consumerism as they grow older. Maybe they will avoid some of the mistakes I made along the way, or at least be prepared to learn from the ones they are bound to make themselves.

Well said, don’t you think?

What I tossed today: 65 pieces of Thomas the Train (craigslist), 30+ pieces of various Diego sets (craigslist), one infant sheepskin (craigslist), and a handful of miscellaneous toy parts (garbage)


3 thoughts on “Day 32: Decluttering Toys: Toys I Wish I Hadn’t Bought

  1. I have a mother-in-law to thank for most the useless plastic crap toys that have ended up in our house. How do you tell her that 11 is too old for the type of plastic toys (and stuffies she now makes in retiremen) she gave him at age three?

    What I’ve learned is that for the most part, boys never use a toy for its intended use and I still hold a grudge against my dad who bought a can of marbles for each boy. Through repeated cleaning binges, we’re mostly down to hot wheels, playmobile, lego,and sports equipment. Having said that, my oh so cool boys can’t bear to part with their stuffies!


    • I think any parent of boys would do well to buy only hot wheels, lego, playmobil and sports equipment.
      Gifts (and mother in laws) are so hard! Everyone has a different idea of what a child wants/needs and it usually has more to do with what they want/need. I know – I bought my son a baby doll.

  2. My mother in law is the same! She loves to shop and is always bringing the kids some cheap, junky toys that are quickly broken and forgotten. I’ve tried to impress on her that she doesn’t need to bring something for the kids every time she comes to visit, but without much luck, sadly.

    Thankfully, the only things on your list that I’m familiar with are Thomas the Train, Hot Wheels and stuffed animals. Maybe my kids are younger than yours? You’re spot on about the kids loving Thomas at the store, but not so much at home – grateful we have a handful of trains but did not succumb to the pressure to get a train table. We have some Hot Wheels cars, but no track (the kids never did play with the tracks), and still have a collection of about 30 stuffed toys. The kids like to dump the stuffies out periodically and have a party with them, but otherwise, they don’t get much love. I would add that I got sucked into buying a lot of trendy (read: wooden) toys, just because they were the toys of the moment. Note to self: kids don’t care if adults think something is cool.

    I love your top 10 list – my kids don’t play with much other than Lego and they like to colour/draw/write too. Although they love going to the toy store and get super excited about getting new toys, the toys are quickly forgotten at home. They’re much more into playing outside, and I’m SO grateful for that! 🙂

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