Thursday, September 15, 2011

simplifying: books & toys

For several months now I've been on an organizing kick. It all started early last winter when the possibility of us moving across the country first came up. I went through a phase of purging and organizing a couple months later, sorting through all the cabinets and drawers downstairs, going through movies, books, toys, clothes, storage shelves, etc.

I didn't realize then that what I was doing was really simplifying.

Since then I've been reading books and blogs that encourage leading a simpler (and, dare I say, minimalistic) lifestyle. With kids. Yes, that's the hard part. Kids (most, anyway) have so many things. I've really been trying to pare our kids' stuff down to the bare minimum.

And by golly, I've noticed a difference.

Many differences, actually. Less clutter, for one. Easier clean-ups. And the biggest thing is that I've actually seen their imaginations grow. They play with the toys they have, but they also are generally content to come up with their own games.

Here are some pictures of what their two play areas look like right now:

What do you think?

Step one was to get rid of all the toys I knew they hadn't played with in a long time. Then I got rid of the toys that annoy me. After a few days of watching them again, I went through everything once more and took out even more things that weren't being used.

Books were the hard part for me. We all love books, and the thought of getting rid of some was difficult. But there were some that we didn't really like. There were some that were mostly just "fluff" kind of books that were't very good anyway. Also, since we frequent the library, I knew that even if we only hold onto only our very favorite books we could always freshen up story time with library books.

This week I've been reading the book Simplicity Parenting. It's really made me take another glance at our toy shelves and want to yet again reassess what we have so far kept.

Before we make our big move I plan to do another toy purge (or at least put many more into a box that we can store and occasionally rotate toys in and out). I'm also going to do another major book purge, and (hopefully) get our collection down to about 20 of our favorite picture books and 10 board books.

As I look at the pictures of our toy shelves I can tell you what we're going to be keeping:
  • Wooden sandpaper letters
  • Large alphabet blocks
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • Maracas
  • Doctor kit
  • Dress-up bin
  • Binoculars
  • Nesting stacking blocks
Besides the toys in the pictures, here are the other toys we will keep:
  • Small basket of play kitchen things
  • Balls, hula hoops, plastic pails, and sidewalk chalk for outside
  • Cozy coupe car, tricycle, and scooter
  • Art supplies (paper, crayons, markers, glue, paint, stickers)
  • Favorite dolls and stuffed animals (Camille has about four of these)
  • Counting and rhyming words puzzles
Life with fewer toys has been calmer. The kids are less overwhelmed and more easily entertained. They spend more time with books. They adore being outside, and would stay out all day if I would let them. Aaron and I want to let them be little kids for as long as they can. We want them to have the freedom to explore and learn what they want to explore and learn, not be bogged down with stuff

I challenge other parents to consider simplifying.

It's refreshing. And actually kind of fun.

A side not to Camille and Levi's Grandparents: Thank you for showing your love to our kids without feeling the need to shower them with gifts. It's wonderful that they love you for who you are and not for what you give them. I think there are many grandparents out there who are naturally gift-givers (which is a good thing!), but that can really take a toll on simplicity. Thanks for finding other was to love our kids!

Coming Soon: simplifying: kids clothes

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Marc Aune said...

We are all about simplifying...or at least we're on our way there. Thanks for the ideas and encouragement!

Magi said...

Yay for purging/simplifying!

GAMZu said...

We always go through toys and try to put some in the "giving away box." But it's never a lot. It's hard to let go! You are brave, I'll tell you that.