Let me start out by saying I wasn’t always into the idea of minimalism. In fact, quite the opposite was true. We had 3 kids and I often would babysit for extra income so we had many children in and out of our home. I bought into the idea that I needed tons of toys to entertain this loud, energetic brood of kiddos. What ended up happening, as you may have experienced, is they dumped all of my carefully organized toys out onto the floor, sift threw them a little, and play with nothing! They just move onto the next thing until all the toys are out in an incredible chaotic mess where you can’t even see the floor! And do they play? No! Instead my kids would just come over to me and whine that they don’t know what to do, we are bored, or they begin fighting over the toys they are not really playing with. Go figure! I was constantly dealing with bickering, aimless wondering around, and very little creative, productive free play that I was so hoping the investment of toys would offer.
Finally, I had enough! I started reading articles, like this one, on minimalism for kids and decided it couldn’t hurt. Very, very…VERY slowly I started picking threw the endless amounts of toys. Here is the criteria I gave myself of things I would want to keep.
1. Things they actually played with EVERY SINGLE DAY.
In our experience these are things like dolls, My Little Pony figures, hot wheels. (limiting the amount. You don’t need 50 hot wheels but 5 will do.)
2. Toys that offer open ended play
I love toys that can open up my kids imagination and get their creative juices flowing. Toys like building blocks can not only be tall towers but also roads, doll beds, barnyard fences, cakes and many more possibilities. Another one of our favorites is play silks. We have 2 and I’d love to get more. My kids turn these into capes for super heroes, baby doll blankets, rivers, hot lava you have to jump over, and parachutes.
3. Toys that offer a connection to nature
Some of our favorites in this category is some of our small animal figurines. My kids love these and play with them all the time. I like them because they are small and don’t take up much space. We also have a lovely “tree” house style doll house. All kinds of creatures and fairies can live here.
4. Heirloom toys
These are toys that my husband or myself played with when we were children and want to pass along to our kids and maybe even one day our grand-kids. There is no specific criteria here. It is purely nostalgic and personal to each person. Also, I will also add here that when purchasing new toys (because I buy a lot of used) I always tend to keep this romantic idea of heirloom toys in the back of my mind. Will this toy hold up well to the abuse my kids dish out and be so loved that my grandchilren will play with it too?
5. Toys that have educational value
This is self explanatory for the most part, although I will add that I do not like toys that only serve one function. By this I mean, games or puzzles that have lots of pieces and if you misplace one the entire game is not going to work. Best to avoid those.
The end result of all of this is more engaged and creative playtime for my kiddos. They feel less overwhelmed by the amount of stuff out and can think more clearly. They can allow their imaginations to run free in a clean, open space. For me, I have a lot less to keep up with and clean up which means more productive and meaningful time with my children. At the end of the day, isn’t that what most parents want? I’ll be adding a post soon on what our playroom looks like and the specific toys mentioned here, be sure to stop back by and check it out. Hopefully it will provide some inspiration. Keep in mind that I do watch other children other than my own on a daily basis. If it were just my 3 kids I would probably have half of the amount of toys but because of the different ages, stages, and personalities I still have more than I would like. Let me also add here that we love doing a good toy rotation every month. I’ll be sure to add a post on that as well.
Let me know if you have any questions or I would love to hear your take on how you choose, organize and rotate toys. I’m always looking for new outlooks and advice so feel free to drop me an email anytime!