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!
Love this. I only have one child so far and don't buy her any new toys (and only a used toy once in a blue moon), and they're still multiplying! Reading "Simplicity Parenting" early on has impacted my philosophy on this so much. Way to go today. :-)ReplyDelete
Love this post! The toys in our house (2 kids under 5) are overwhelming. I really need to do a major purge. Kudos to you guys. I like the idea of getting the kids involved.ReplyDelete
Awesome post. I have been following your blogs and we are de-cluttering the kitchen Friday night.(What a great way to enter the Sabbath) And we are heading for the toy bin on Saturday afternoon. This Christmas we are also adopting a four gift per child policy (one item they want, one they need, one to wear, and one for fun)! I am looking forward to that, we have 4 kids (3,2,2,and 6 months). I told my DH this morning less is more, now I am adopting "when in doubt, throw it out".ReplyDelete
I really like your Christmas philosophy! May I steal it!? I was trying to think of a way to limit Christmas this year as well, and really hadn't thought of a way to plan it out. I was just going to buy way less but....i love the 4 categories!!!!Delete
Speaking of Christmas. We don't give any gifts on Christmas (except those from grandparents). The birth of Jesus is the gift and being with each other going to midnight Mass and a special meal.Delete
Instead, we give three gifts to each child (we've four little ones so far)on Epiphany just like the wise men gave a total of three gifts. Cheers!
Like Megan, we just started doing the 3 gifts (but on Christmas, not Epiphany) representing the 3 gifts from the magi and each one has a specific purpose/theme behind it. Plus they get TOO MUCH STUFF from extended family with our kids being the ONLY grandkids on BOTH sides of our family.Delete
Luckily, we're in Africa for 2 years so getting gifts to us has been a little bit trickier and we've enjoyed 1 simple Christmas so far. 1 more on the way this December!
Like Megan, we also give 3 gifts (but on Christmas like Vanessa). We continue to celebrate Christmas through Epiphany. We put Jesus in the manger on Christmas, and then our wise man travel throughout our house, gradually coming together.Delete
We do 4 gifts too, for Christmas and for birthday's. Want, Need, Wear & Read.Delete
We've been purging our home for the past month & my daughter's room is no exception. Initially, I was going to purge without her home but ultimately decided it would be best to involve her in the process. A great decision! She loved it! A couple of things that helped. 1. I would ask her what she wanted to keep, instead of asking what she wanted to get rid of. 2. She knew where things were going. Some to a cousin in need, some to charity, some to her preschool & some to consignment. 3. She's watched us get rid of things & has heard our conversations regarding the positivechanges that have been made.ReplyDelete
Since clearing out more toys, she is less overwhelmed, more imaginative, plays in her room more, cleans her room(!!!) without being asked. It's been great.
Honestly, we've been purging her room for a long time & I thought she already had a scaled back amount of toys but I can truly say Less is More!
Here's a question for you (& your dear readers!), at what age would you start going through their toys with them? Our son is 3 and seems to want to keep EVERYTHING! I can pull out an old toy & for the next month or 2 it will be the new favorite! My husband goes through his stuff when we're gone & tosses/donates stuff. I don't like this b/c he doesn't know what our son plays with a lot of the time & it's maddening to search for something that is no longer there!ReplyDelete
So, what age do you start & how do you go about it? I'm not sure reasoning/explaining would mean a lot to him right now.. but we need to start somewhere!
Thanks in advance for any help/suggestions! :)
I definitely think that kids should help as soon as they are able...that way it will be normal, not tragic for them. I also think it's important, as somebody else has said, to focus more on what he's keeping instead of what he's getting rid of. Set limits for him....asking "do you want to keep this, or this?" is a good way to do it at this age.Delete
I think you could start small. Only decide on what toys in one basket to keep. It would be great if you could do it all in a day, but that may be a little overwhelming for your kiddo.Delete
Love the 'when in doubt throw it out' policy. I had a weeding policy that was similar, 'when in doubt, pluck it out'. I'll have to institute that for kids toys too. Thanks for sharing. I have been enjoying your "year of less" and hope to incorporate a lot of ideas into my life as well.ReplyDelete
could i bother you w/a question? what do you do w/toys that are given as gifts that are large/make obnoxious noises/or just dont jive w/overall toy philosphy of the home....i try to keep toys that span multiple ages....having a 5,3 and 2 year old and expecting our 4th and living in a farmhouse w/limited storage i try to keep things simply...we love blocks/trains/books/etc....but i hate to offend a mother in law or friend if they come over and dont see the toy they "gifted". thanks!! jenniReplyDelete
We frequently encounter this. I try to take a picture of my child playing with the toy, send it on with a thank you note, then let go of the guilt if we pass that toy on in a few weeks or months. We've had enough conversations with family members about our lack of storage AND our general philosophy on toys (less is more) that I have stopped feeling guilty when we don't keep the toys around for very long. I want to keep the balance of being grateful, but also being okay making decisions that are best for our family.Delete
If we kept everything we had been given for our three kids, we would have no room to actually live. (Only slightly kidding...).
Just my two cents!
Yes! And I think Day 24 (?) on sentimental items can relate to this question as well - you are the gatekeeper to your home and if the person giving the gift wanted control over what happened to that item, they would have held onto it.Delete
Be free! Let go of the guilt! :)
Also- I love the idea of getting everything out. It helps to organize and give perspective on how much we have!ReplyDelete
Boy, do toys multiply! We have an almost 3 year old and a 7 mo old and toys are everywhere. It is driving me nuts and I need to declutter big time. I've been stuck with how to do it since Kid B might not like what Kid A likes and I want to keep toys for different ages, blah blah blah. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyDelete