I was inspired by the TV show Consumed to take another step in tackling the toys in our house. In this show, families with way more stuff than us agree to put most of their belongings in storage for a month. After surviving with the bare minimum of dishes, furniture, clothing and personal items, they are supposed to realize they don’t need all the clutter. I thought this approach might work for toys too.
Before Christmas, I packed up a large cardboard box with all the stuffed animals in the living room. The truth is, I was tired of cleaning them all up every day. I put in the basement with the expectation that I’d be searching through it for someone’s favourite in no time. After they didn’t mention the missing items for a few days, I thought I’d pick a day to go through it with the kids to pick out their favourites. That was almost two months ago. Guess what? No one has mentioned the missing stuffies.
Since this unplanned first step went so well, I thought we could move further. I was tired of the toy area being a mess and of the kids being overwhelmed when it was time to clean up. So, I talked with the kids about how having so many toys meant there lots of cleaning up and not very much room to play. I tried to keep it simple by suggesting that we put some toys in the basement to make more room for playing. They seemed to agree my idea was worth considering.
On a weekend, I set out all the toys for them to look at. I brought up the ones that had been “rotated out” and were being stored in the basement. With everything laid out, I suggested that they each fill one bin with their favourite toys. I expected them to protest or argue, or at least to negotiate for more toys, but they didn’t. So, the rest of the toys went in the basement. I made it clear they could bring up a toy from the basement if they took one downstairs. That was about a month ago. Guess what? Again, no one has asked me to trade the toys. In fact, they are playing with more board games and puzzles now. I think that having fewer options provides a space where they can see what is available to them.
A chose to keep his train set, a hotwheels track, some cars and Perplexus.
I won’t end with an overused quotation like “less is more.” But, I will say that less is okay. All three kids were okay with choosing their favourites. They were okay with watching us take the toy organizer and the other bins of toys downstairs. And, they are certainly okay with clean up being so much easier.
Jenna is mom to a six year old singleton son (A) and 4 year old MZ twin girls (R & S). She is also okay with less. In fact, she looks forward to moving toys out of the basement for the next multiples clothing sale, but she realizes that will take some negotiations.