Killing the toy kitchen — yay or nay?

Oh, woe the family who has too many toys. Cry you a river, right?

Well, that’s me. With a 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, we have two completely different class of toys for those maturity levels, plus toys our eldest has outgrown that we keep around assuming the youngest will use them in a few years.

Alas, I’m in downsize mode now, trying to simplify and declutter our home.

My dilemma is this Melissa & Doug toy kitchen.

Photo of a Melissa & Doug wooden play kitchen, complete with stove top, oven, fridge, microwave, cabinets and shelves in one unit.

It’s one of our best toys because both kids play with it nearly every day. But, a kitchen has been equipped with dozens of pieces of toy food, utensils, cooking implements, pots, muffin tins and so forth.

The menagerie litters the floor and nearby play table. Half the time, the kitchen stuff is ferried into additional rooms for other pretend play.

Did I mention the kitchen is in our front room? It’s not in my son’s bedroom because when not supervised he’ll climb and jump from it. So, the play kitchen is adjacent to our real kitchen, with the mess in full view of visitors at our doorstep.

Rather than wait for my son to mature and clean up after himself, I’m tempted to replace the kitchen with a compact Alex play stove, or Alex play stove and oven, dramatically paring down the kitchen accessories, and moving everything into my son’s room (placed atop a long, low dresser).

Photo of two Alex wooden toys, a stovetop and a stovetop with an oven.

Mostly, I was tempted at seeing the $36 stovetop (at left, above) selling for $10 in a local store.

On one hand, less clutter is good. On the other hand, the Melissa & Doug kitchen is cool. On the third hand, hey, plenty of kids don’t even have toy kitchens. I’m just not quite at the point of total elimination.

So, I guess this is me venting at you. If anyone has downsized much beloved toys, I’d love to hear how that went over.


14 Responses to “Killing the toy kitchen — yay or nay?”

  1. Anjie says:

    I go through my daughter’s toys about once a month, sometimes more. Now, she’s only 3 so it doesn’t impact her as much as a 6 year old. I normally do it while she’s napping and she never notices. If she’s awake I just tell her that I’m picking some toys to give to less fortunate children. Usually then she starts throwing ALL her toys in the bag and I have to convince her to keep some of her toys. lol

    August 27th, 2010 at 5:28 am

  2. Jeremy says:

    We use a rotational strategy. Grandma LOVES to buy new toys so we have a plethora of them. We have 3 storage bins and rotate the toys out on a weekly basis during nap time. He never notices, but then again, he’s 18 months old. It keeps things fresh and somewhat cleaner because there aren’t so many toys out there.

    August 27th, 2010 at 7:48 am

  3. adrienne says:

    I feel your pain. My youngest loves our play kitchen even though I’m really tired of it. It’s been hogging a corner of our real kitchen for years.

    Even though I’m tired of ours, I suspect I’ll keep it until all the kids are through the kitchen stage. It’s easier than getting something different. It gives the youngest something to do when I’m working in the kitchen.

    The matching washer and dryer were vanquished to the family room years ago.

    August 27th, 2010 at 8:06 am

  4. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    My 3 year old LOVES the toy kitchens at church and childcare (especially the refrigerator he can open and close and put things in) but does not have one at home because of the amount of space they take up

    August 27th, 2010 at 8:38 am

  5. Jennifer M says:

    We’ve spent the last week trying to convince Z to ditch the kitchen. We said she could keep the toy food and dishes because she does still use them with her dolls but she NEVER uses the kitchen anymore. In fact, she asked me to move my newly-acquired-haven’t-found-a-home-for-yet sewing table from in front of her kitchen the other day so she could play with the kitchen and then she ended up making a hammock between the legs of the sewing table. I’m thinking it will get hidden in the next week or so and see if she misses it. I’d keep it if she still used it though.

    August 27th, 2010 at 8:42 am

  6. Kaely says:

    I don’t think our play kitchen will be going anywhere soon. My six year old still plays with it daily (it lives in his room) and I’m sure the baby will get years of use out of it too. When we didn’t have room for the full on play kitchen we had a Melissa and Doug tray that had burners and little knobs you could turn. Kind of like a toy hotplate. They don’t make the one we had, but this one is similar:

    It would also be pretty easy to make something similar out of a tray (or cutting board), some paint and a couple of knobs from Home Depot.

    August 27th, 2010 at 10:55 am

  7. JMo says:

    The accessories are what is creating the clutter — so keep the kitchen, pair down the accessories. I would put the majority of the accessories (especially the small ones) in storage until your son can clean up after himself.

    August 27th, 2010 at 1:13 pm

  8. Lucy says:

    We have the stovetop kitchen you listed and a DIY kitchen made from IKEA parts. They don’t play with the stovetop one much because that drawer is really hard to open. You should try one out before you buy it. Also, kids love to pull drawers out and open and close doors and that stovetop one does not allow that. I say either leave the full sized kitchen, hide it for a month then bring it out again, or get that third one.

    August 27th, 2010 at 8:10 pm

  9. Lindsey Whitney says:

    Do not get rid of a Melissa and Doug kitchen!!! They are the best, and if your kids play with it everyday, it’s a keeper. Get rid of some other things and maybe the clutter from the kitchen won’t seem so great. :)

    August 28th, 2010 at 5:35 am

  10. observer says:

    instead of getting rid of the kitchen all together, try removing some of the peices. if you place some of them in a bin, you can rotate the ammount of play food and utensils used. you could also have a storage place for the peices where only those peices go. that way they have a place to put the things that they play with all the time away

    August 29th, 2010 at 7:05 pm

  11. Angelique says:

    I’m for the big kitchen. We have a giant wooden monster kitchen just off of our real kitchen. We figure our kids are only little once. I put up with the clutter for a few years and they have a lifetime of memories with their awesome play kitchen. Our boys, 18 months and almost 5, looove their kitchen. My 5-year-old is old enough to follow the rules that kitchen toys stay in the kitchen and don’t belong on the floor. I have my one-year-old help pickup and stuff all the playwear into the cabinet at the end of the day.

    We have a very small home. I have to compromise with the kids’ toys. Mostly, I made sure to have nice, adult-looking storage units (shelves with solid canvas bins, rattan trunks, etc) that all of the chintzy toys can disappear into. Some of the really sharp looking toys (wooden sorters, nice books, wood toys) are on the open shelves. Some of the larger ugly plastic pieces (drop n roar dino, mini-trampoline, etc) make a rotation from the garage into the living room so we’re not overrun. Ever month or two, I re-evaluate and see if we’re starting to clutter too much, then shuffle stuff around to other rooms or give things away. Some things, like the huge kitchen, I make peace with. I keep it contained to one area, make sure the kids learn to pick it up, and remind myself that they’re only little once…

    August 31st, 2010 at 12:41 pm

  12. Dallas says:

    We have the one on the bottom right. Our 3 year old uses it to store things, and then drags them out all over the floor. I’ve pared down the accessories. At church she is all over the bigger kitchens, mainly the ones with the overhead “microwave”. (She likes to place things inside and take them back out again).

    When we looked for toy kitchens, the one we bought was pretty much all we could afford, and she has enjoyed it, she just doesn’t play with it very often… the hazards of having too many toys, I think.

    September 4th, 2010 at 8:30 am

  13. Jen says:

    we just sold our kitchen, but ours wasn’t as nice as yours! We had the smallest “step 2 lifestyles” one, and it couldn’t hold anything! so then we had bins of food, and it was just a mess! Those little stovetops are exactly what i was thinking of replacing it with at christmas.

    I’m also going to upsize their dollhouse… they have been using the same small one for 3 years now. I’m hoping having more room for furniture in the house, as opposed to all over the floor, will help in that area as well. :)

    September 19th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

  14. Elizabeth says:

    We had a big ugly plastic kitchen that the kids just LOVED for so long before I just couldn’t look at it anymore. We nabbed this ( sink instead and the matching stove that I remembered loving as a kid. Very low profile and I winnowed the accessories down to one small box each of the best food (the really realistic stuff, the melissa and doug cutable stuff) and the most fun dishes and got rid of the junky stuff. It hasn’t hampered their kitchen play at all, has made the kitcheny mess much more manageable, and they LOVE that the sink really works. So yeah, I wouldn’t feel bad about weeding the bulk and junk out of your kitchen toy collection, kids will have fun even if you give them a cardboard box for a play stove.

    November 26th, 2010 at 4:54 pm

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