In my last post, I talked about minimizing toy clutter, a topic which seems to resonate with several of my friends who have children. I must say it feels funny, as a new parent with only one child, to write on this subject. I’m no expert, by any means, on parenting nor minimalism, but I’m glad to hear my posts are encouraging to some of you. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in the journey to simplify life!
Now… Let’s take another moment to think about toys.
We all know that playtime is important for a child’s development, and toys are excellent tools for fostering growth and learning. In this day and age, there are countless toys to assist children’s language skills, motor skills, cognitive thinking, and social skills. While having so many options can be a wonderful thing, it has proven to be a curse for many families. Houses are looking less like homes and more like day care centers, toys scattered about, covering every surface of every room. There may be a small percentage of people who prefer their house splattered in primary colors, and another sect who like stepping on legos – who knows, anything’s possible – but for the sake of this blog, let’s presume most parents don’t want to live that way.
If we want to tackle the issue of “Too Many Toys”, we have to ask ourselves a couple of questions:
- How did we get here?
- How do we find our way back?
These questions, while basic, are necessary if we want to reclaim our living spaces and simplify our lives. Once we’re able to admit we’ve lost our way, we can begin to find our way back, using simplicity as true north.
How Did We Get Here?
We need to take a look at our motives. I’m sure everyone has mostly good intentions when it comes to giving toys to their children.
- We want to see them happy.
- We want to help them learn.
- We want to make sure they’re not bored.
- We want them to know how much we love them.
Aye – there’s the rub. We equate toys with love. Somewhere along the lines, we’ve come to believe that the more toys children have, the more we love them. Everywhere we turn, we’re slammed with this message, not realizing the colossus known as consumerism is what’s fueling the fire. Sure, toy companies want children to learn and grow, but mainly they want our money. We’ve fallen victim to the consumption of goods in a way that’s exposing the roots of some detrimental issues within our society. Furthermore, this misdirection – this addiction – likely has a greater affect on our children than we even realize.
Think about it. As parents, our job is to guide our children, helping them become positive contributors of love and light in this world, and teaching them about the things truly matter in life. All the stuff we fill our homes with reflect our priorities, and our children, our little sponges, will soak up that information and carry it with them into adulthood… And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my son to grow up thinking that material possessions are means to happiness or success… that the more he has, the better he is. Unfortunately, this is a lie many people have accepted as truth.
If you’re a parent reading this, I want to invite you to come on this journey with me… Let’s create change. Let’s fight for simplicity. If not for our own sake, then for our kids’.
The answer to this question will look different for each person, but it starts with taking an honest look at our lives. We need to re-evaluate our homes and ask ourselves, “Do we NEED all of this stuff?” It IS possible that our kids could not ONLY survive with less, but thrive with less! The imagination is a powerful thing. Walt Disney once said, “The greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”
For many of you, the road to simplicity and a clutter-free home is going to require a substantial purge of toys. This will take time and energy, two things parents worldwide constantly lack, but take heart – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Here are a few easy tips to get you started:
- Grab a bag or box. Actually, grab TWO.
- Take 10 minutes out of your day to go through ONE little area – a closet, a toy chest, a wall of cubbies, wherever. If your child is old enough, invite them to join you. This is a great chance to teach them about giving to people in need.
- Fill one bag/box with items to donate. Fill the other with toys that need to be tossed.
- Toss (or recycle) the one box and find an organization who will accept the other.
Do this now! Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t wait until this weekend. Take 10 minutes right now and get it done. Then you can get back on Facebook and talk about how much better you feel now that you’ve gotten started.
Once you’ve taken that first step, consider taking 10 minutes of each day (or even just once a week if that’s all you can do) to sort through all the toys. Slowly but surely, you’ll start seeing the floors of your house again; a sense of tranquility will fill your home as the clutter vanishes. And then… low and behold… buried under the pile of minions, furbies and Star Wars figurines, we’ll finds our minds that were once lost in the chaos.
P.S. BecomingMinimalist.com offers a helpful guide for decluttering toys. Might be good to save it as a bookmark on your browser. 😉