The Task: To limit the children's toys to the ones they really use and enjoy
The Why: If you have young children, you know that kids toys seem to multiply in the toy bin. When friends who are new moms ask which toys are best to buy for their kids I tell them not to buy anything, toys will mysteriously appear in their home and in a few years they will be looking around the living room asking "Where did they all come from?"
The How: First of all, I should point out that my kids have grown up with a mom who regularly reorganizes and declutters. In our home, phrases like "less is more" and "when in doubt, throw it out!" are common. So they are particularly good at purging and decluttering. They know that getting rid of things they don't use actually makes the things they do use more fun.
We starting by laying a blanket on the front lawn and taking every single toy outside. We grouped toys together by type, throwing away anything irreparably broken as we went.
We decided that the favourite toys pretty much fit into 4 categories; mega blocks, the tea party and dress up stuff, the trains and cars, and the playsilks. With only a couple exceptions (including a small basket of baby toys), we are donating almost everything else.
Here is what we've kept:
Plus we have a drawer full of mega blocks by the kitchen. This is a great way to keep our busy twins occupied for whole minutes at a time.
And we piled all of the dolls and stuffies on the living room floor and let the three oldest kids take turns picking an item to keep until our "stuffy basket" was full. This turned out to be a fabulous way to do it, the kids all got a say in what was kept and the tangible limit set for them helped them to part with what was left over.
The Verdict: We got rid of one giant Rubbermaid bin heaping with toys as well as a recycling bag full of stuffed animals. All in all, I think we've reduced our toys by at least half. My kids are pleased with what we chose to keep, and I am so pleased to not have to pick up/trip over/curse at a million toys every day.
Also, it gave us an opportunity to discuss with our kids why we declutter. We talked about not storing up stuff on earth, and about how too much stuff makes it hard to enjoy and care for and appreciate what we have. We talked about kids in developing countries who are thrilled to receive one tiny shoebox full of toys each year, and how our own gratitude for how much we have should be demonstrated through generosity.
Of course, our kids still have a ton of other things to play with. We have craft supplies and board games, books, puzzles, and bicycles. We have a sprinkler and kiddie pool for hot summer days, and I let them use my loaf pans to make snow bricks in the winter. They even have a swing set and a slide in the backyard, a fire pit for roasting marshmallows on cold autumn evenings,and a garden to tend and explore. These kids definitely are not suffering from a lack of things to do!
We are doing one small thing (almost) every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!