Brandy is my hero. Every time I go to her house, I want to be more like her. I love her simple life…and her house always looks so nice and welcoming. I want to be like Brandy when I grow up. I think you’re really going to enjoy her post today….
When I was younger, my bedroom was such a quagmire, I had piles and paths instead of a clear floor for walking and play. Now, I can tidy up my whole house for company in five minutes (and I have two children three and under!). Somewhere in the middle of this happy story was years of work, hours spent packing stuff into bags for Goodwill and yard sales, contemplation over clothes and books and toys. Was it worth it? YES!
I think it’s a common assumption that if you have small children your house must be overrun with tiny socks and loads of toys. It doesn’t have to be that way. The lessons I learned from a cluttered 19 years have carried over into my own home and I see that childhood (and parenthood!) can be experienced without piles and paths. In this post, I’ll write a little about the how-to’s of toy decluttering and setting up a toy library, of which mama is the librarian.
My little girl has the grandest memory I have ever seen. Aren’t children amazing like that? She can remember a trip we took or a story we read, months and months later (which is a long time when you’re three). That said, my decluttering efforts have had to be sensitive to her stellar memory. Here are some tips for tossing (or passing along) toys:
If it’s broken, it goes. Plain and simple. Don’t hold onto it with the mythic “But I can fix it!” Just move on. Plastic toys break more easily than wooden or cloth ones, so consider that route if you’re shopping for toys.
If it has a lot of pieces, it goes. These types of toys often create chaos instead of peace. Now, it might go into the library, if it’s something awesome like blocks.
If it’s not age-appropriate, it goes. Sometimes, children are blessed with things that are just too old for them. Give them a home with an older child who can enjoy them fully!
If it doesn’t reflect your values, it goes. At our house, that would be Barbie or princess-themed items. This varies family to family, so trust your instincts.
If an item isn’t used for a few weeks, it goes into seclusion (like Maria in The Sound of Music). If it’s not asked for after that, out it goes!
Sort toys seasonally. Meaning, have Winter-themed things out in Winter and put those noodles away when Summer is over.
Keep open-ended toys. These are things like nesting bowls, wooden blocks, and playsilks. Even rocks, sticks and pieces of wood from daddy’s latest project. These can be anything and deserve a permanent place in your home.
Most of these points also apply to books–ones that have been chewed on, ones that aren’t appropriate for your children, ones that aren’t read. A few books out will get way more action than a whole pile!
Once you’ve cleared out the toys and books, take stock of what is left and put half of it away for later. Store these in an out-of-the-way, but easy-to-access place, like a garage or basement. Keep them in simple plastic or cardboard boxes. Put books in one, soft toys in another, gifts from relatives that simply must stay in another and so on. And label–all good libraries have labels!
At our house, we started our library with ride-on toys, things like a rocking horse or a car, and moved on from there. One of those out at a time. This is an easy concept for a child to understand. Trade one for the other. If you have sets of something, like a farm with animals, trade that in for the toolbox or the house. It might take a few tries, but your children will sort out how it works and even tell you what item they’d like to trade for something “new.”
Like all good librarians, look through your selection at regular intervals (seasonally, maybe) and see what’s not getting used. Check for broken or worn-out items and move them along. Practice limiting your toy purchases to items that really are timeless and lasting, just like a savvy librarian would do. Keep things in order so that you can find them when it’s time to check out another toy. Fewer toys out at a time mean deeper play, better concentration and a more peaceful home!
If you’re looking for more, practical ways to simplify, check out Simplicity Parenting.
Brandy spends her days watching the skies and tending her children on her little homestead in town. She lists “sticking it to the man” as one of her favorite hobbies and is not above putting a frozen pizza in the oven when the day calls for it. Together, her family hikes, creates, learns and grows. She shares her journey atYoung in the Mountains.