I recently started pursuing toy minimalismin our home, and have fallen head over heels for it.
Seriously, it’s every stay-at-home mama’s dream.
First, a little backstory:
When my oldest daughter was born, I wanted absolutely everything for her.
While we’ve never been the parents to let her choose multiple toys each time we went to the store, we were definitely both suckers for getting her at least one thing. Our littles are also blessed with VERY generous grandparents who love to shower them with gifts.
Fast forward a couple years.
I found myself drowning in toys and in tears because I couldn’t seem to get control over the mess (I was also pregnant, and bending over 5 million times a day to pick up the living room just wasn’t going to happen).
I came up with a basket system of organizing the mess, which led to us clearing out a closet for the toys, but I was still overwhelmed.
And then a magical thing happened…
I came across the idea of toy minimalism.
My first thought was that there was absolutely no way I could get rid of toys without my daughter noticing.
My second thought was Who cares? I need to take my house back. I can’t live like this anymore. And I don’t want this kind of life and environment for my daughter.
Before I Touched the Toys…
I did some soul searching before I went on the toy clearing rampage.
It was important to me to get rid of her toys for the right reason, and I needed some basic guidelines for myself to help me decide what I would allow to stay and what we would pass along to another family.
I decided ahead of time what kinds of toys I wanted to keep and what kinds would be donated based on my vision of what I want for my kid’s childhood.
This all had to be about her first and foremost. Fewer toys for me to pick up was just a (major) bonus.
We got rid of any toys that didn’t contribute to the childhood we wanted for our kids.
Things she didn’t play with
Noisy, light up toys
Toys that didn’t lean toward imaginative play
Collections of toys that were just dumped on the floor and left every day
Unloved stuffed animals
Hand-me-down toys that never interested her
Toys that encourage behaviors we don’t want for her (such as multiple play cell phones – we don’t allow small screens for our kids)
Broken or damaged toys
I tend to bag the toys and set them in the garage for a few weeks. If she asks for a toy, I’m happy to pull it out and let her keep it, but so far she hasn’t seemed to miss anything.
We kept toys that contribute to the childhood we want for our kids.
Small animals, Little People, dolls, and wooden toys (Toys that require imagination to play with)
My daughter has learned the joy of sitting down with her toys independently and keeping herself entertained.
I wasn’t the only one drowning in toys, so with fewer toys came an increase in contentment for my daughter. She is easily able to find the specific toys she wants to play with without the hassle of digging through a ton of stuff.
While this may be a normal milestone development for children, I’ve found that there’s been a definite increase in the curiosity that my girl exhibits. I love hearing her ask, “Mommy, what is that?”
Surprisingly, with fewer toys, we have way less boredom! My daughter has found creativity and imagination to be her BFFs, and it’s a rare thing to see her without her favorite gorilla in one hand and her doctor kit in the other.
She no longer dumps toys out without playing with them.
Less stress for mama…
Which means less stress for my little.
We’ve found that a less cluttered home is a calmer home, which brings with it security, comfort, and peace.
Which means more playtime with my kids!
This has led to feeling…
More connected to my kids…
When the house is under control, I adore sitting down and connecting with my girls.
A cluttered house can be a barrier between you and that connection.
It’s time to clear the barrier, mama.
All of this has led to…
A happier home.
Less clutter. More play.
Less stress. More connection.
Alternative gifts for birthdays and holidays
Part of toy minimalism is being more intentional with what is brought into your home.
This includes gifts from holidays, birthdays, etc.
Do I think you need to cut off family members from being able to give your kids gifts? NOPE.
I know mine and my husband’s parents love showing affection through gifts for the girls, so I would never take that away from them.
You can express to them specifically what types of gifts you’d like your littles to receive, though.
Here are some alternatives to asking for toys:
Experiences/Memories – Let the grandparents take them to a special museum or play place, get ice cream, go swimming at the water park… anything that creates a great memory and experience
Monthly postcards, letters, or fun mail
Memberships for the zoo, aquarium, etc.
Music, such as kid’s CD’s of classical music or their favorite Disney Music CD
Classes, such as a music class, swim class, or gymnastics
Travel supplies, such as their own Suitcase and bathroom bag
Dress up clothes
Special bath towel
Bean bag chair
It’s All a Journey
Are we hardcore minimalists when it comes to the toys? Not yet, but we work each day to get rid of the unnecessary toys and we’ve become more mindful of the types of toys we allow in our home.
Did we throw everything out? Nope! She still has quite a few toys, but we’re more intentional about what toys we purchase or keep.
Why Does Pursuing Toy Minimalism Matter?
Personally, I want to teach my girls to surround themselves with items that are useful and loved.
I want them to learn the beauty of a clean and clear space free from clutter.
I want them to learn to be thoughtful about what they buy, accept from others, and allow to be in their homes.
The only way to teach our children these lessons is through our own actions.
This is something to work toward daily for them.
My girls have changed my view on life, home, and my role as a wife and mother. They’ve taught me what I need to teach them.
Mamas, You are the Hub of Your Home
You may feel that you spin and spin all day, but you are the centrifugal force that holds your home together, and if you stop spinning it may all fall apart.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take a day off now and then.
I say this to help you keep in mind WHY you want to cut back on the toys.
The tone of your home is set by YOU.
If you are stressed, unhappy, depressed… doesn’t it make sense that the state of your home and the family members in it would reflect that?
If you’re happy, motivated, and calm, it will influence the state of your surroundings and your family members in a positive and uplifting way.
What kind of life do you want to help create with your family?
Is your home a place your husband is happy to come home to?
Are YOU happy to be there?
Is it a place where your kids can feel calm and secure?
When it gets tough to throw out the toys due to nostalgia or guilt or fear of wasted money, keep your end goal in mind. Remember your why. Remember what you’re working to create for yourself, your family, and your home.
What benefits of toy minimalism speak to you the most? What are your favorite non-toy gifts? I’d love to hear from you!