Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why We Keep a Minimalist Approach to Toys in Our Home

It actually started when I first discovered I was pregnant. We have a fairly small home that seemed plenty big for the two of us. In our three bedroom house,however, every closet in every room was full. We had gift wrap, luggage, extra blankets, board games galore, and more all in storage. As I started to make room for our pending arrival, I started to panic.

I cleaned out one closet in the baby's nursery and condensed the items into one closet in our final spare bedroom. And then, in true Sharlee fashion, I began to panic about life with two babies and no closet space for our gift wrap and board games. Where will everything go? I know I was pre-worrying...It seems to be a hobby of mine. And yes, I know I need to get a new one. I'm trying--sort of.

So I devised a plan of action to help me feel a little more in control and a tiny bit less worried. I would buy a set number of bins that would fit comfortably in JaiseAnn's closet. Those bins would hold all her toys save a few larger items. (A few meaning one or two that might comfortably fit in her room).  When she got older, we'd store the few baby toys we planned to keep and put some new toys in the bins. She would play with one bin at a time--minimizing messes and clutter.

This plan was at first met with negative responses. My mom and Zach thought that one bin to play with at a time felt mean. My mom felt like she wouldn't be able to shower JaiseAnn with all the toys and that's what Grandmas are for. But I stood my ground and as time went on and our house filled with baby things, everyone seemed to realize that mimizing toys was a great option for storage.

But something else has happened. As we've decided to minimize toys for storage/clutter/and overall space, we've learned that JaiseAnn doesn't need many toys. She plays with one bin a day and we rotate throughout the week so she sees a different set of toys each day. But her toys interest her far less than helping with the dishes, emptying cupboards, tearing through bookshelves, and playing with mom and Mal. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

JaiseAnn will spend a few quiet minutes throughout the day exploring her toys by herself, but she'll also spend time to herself exploring her world. She'll mimic me by carrying clothes around the house. She'll dance. She'll talk. She'll explore the closet and our bedroom, and she'll look out the windows. We feel that the fewer distractions she has, the more she'll have to use her imagnination. The fewer plastic toys with lights that beep, and buzz, and play music--the more she'll have to pretend her wooden blocks do those things. She has a set of blocks and those blocks have the potential to become just about anything she wants.

I find that the less I satisfy my sweet tooth, the less I want sweets. The less I satisfy my "urge to shop" and buy things of material value, the less important they seem. I can't imagine it's any different with children. The more comfortable JaiseAnn gets with only a few toys and her imagination, the less she'll want, need, or feel entitled to as she grows. At least that is our hope.

So we've come to the conclusion that we will continue to be minimalistic about toys throughout our children's lives. We will allow a few toys in the home and they will play with even fewer at a time.

How do you feel about children's toys? Do you like a lot of toys or do you like very few? How do you organize toys and keep your child interested and willing to play independently?

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