Sometimes children seem to collect clutter without any fault of their own. It certainly seems that way around here!
Well meaning grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles love to share toys and other things with our little ones and children, by nature, are collectors.
As we are slowly continuing our journey towards minimalism I find myself saying “We are aiming for less, not more.” at least once every day.
The temptations are huge, and I know we are lucky because our children are not exposed to advertising and don’t go to school, so there is less pressure to keep up with all their friends, but still there are shops with big displays and sooner or later you end up with a home full of toys that don’t get played with.
Of course minimising toys is not an easy task, for a start these things are not our’s, they belong to our children, which means that we don’t get to make decisions without them.
I must admit to not always remembering that , I spent quite a few days picking out toys I knew they did not play with and hiding them in a box in our wardrobe just to see if they would miss them. After several months of no one missing the toys we donated them, and to this day the little ones have not asked for a single toy we gave away.
When it comes down to the toys they enjoy it can be more difficult to find a balance.
First, of course, we looked through the toys and threw away any broken toys that we were not able to fix,
then we decided what to keep and what to donate.
The plan was to donate all toys they had outgrown but were still attached to for one reason or another. The best way to do that was to replace them with nicer, more grown-up versions.
Emily had a large collection of little ponies which she simply had outgrown, but for lack of other options she still wanted to hold on to them.
I spent a lot of time thinking about that, wondering what to do.
In the end we decided to replace the ponies with these beautiful Bayala figurines. As soon as Emily saw these gorgeous magical beings she was sure that she was ready to let go of the old collection of toys.
Emily adores fairies and horses, so the magical world of Bayala seemed an ideal choice, and these little figurines are so beautifully crafted that they do feel very grown up and special, and they do inspire Emi’s imagination with their mystical stories.
I think little collections like these are perfect for children because it satisfies their need to collect while replacing toys like Barbies and ponies. Even Arthur and George have been enjoying setting up sweet little scenes with the adorable elves and fairies.
We particularly love how detailed and realistic these figurines are, definitely nicer than the plastic horses Emily used to collect!
By letting Emily decide whether she wanted to donate her old toys or not we helped her feel part of what we are doing, we let her make an important choice and she chose quality over quantity. Our children are capable of making big decisions, we just need to let them!
Through replacing and combining in this way we have managed to reduce our toys to a great little collection of just owning high quality toys that get played with daily.
We currently own a basket of Duplo blocks, some Sylvanian Families, six very much loved dolls, some Bayala figurines (They are everyone’s favourite at the moment!), a basket of playfood, a small box of cars and a few instruments as well as a few favourite cuddly toys.
It’s nowhere near minimal, but it is what works well for us right now.
It has encouraged our children to play together, to share, to use their imagination more, it has made them more generous, it has encouraged them to think about others, (“Maybe someone else would like to play with this toy, I don’t really use it any more!“) and it will certainly make birthdays and other gift-giving occasions easier, where we will be asking for fun days out or additions to existing collections.
How do you handle toy clutter?
Do you let your children decide or make the decision for them?
Have a lovely day!