This is certainly not news for parents who have older kids, but with kids less is more. I say this premising that I do not follow my own advice. Add that to the long list of parenthood’s hypocrisies.
If I see a cool toy car or stickers at the checkout register I just cannot help myself and will get it for my son (and, no doubt, for my inner child). Sure, he loves getting an unexpected present, but most of the time he becomes most fascinated by the wrapper or the box or the piece of cardboard or the twisty tie. He loves playing with boxes whenever we get a delivery at home. He loves playing with coins. He loves playing with scotch tape (lots and lots of it). He will chase a fly around the house for hours. So why even bother buying “stuff’?
Part of it, as I said before, is my own inner child who is just looking for an excuse to regress. The other is just simply to see the smile on his face. That is certainly a selfish act since all I am doing is spoiling him, but it’s priceless. At the same time we follow a simple piece of advice that is not new, but is worth repeating. We cycle his toys in and out of site (using high shelf in a closet) so that he rediscovers them from time to time and learns to enjoy them. As soon as we notice a toy languishing in a corner or untouched for a week or so we just scoop it up and put it out of site. He usually does not seem to miss it or look for it, but when we put it out again for him to find 9 out of 10 times you see the same smile he flashed you when he saw it the first time. This way you can buy less stuff and once he is done playing with the box the stuff came in you will see that the stuff will be just as exciting and brand new each time it makes an appearance now and again.