Fewer, better toys are actually better for our children. Let me explain why.
Minimalism, defined as a style or technique that is characterized by sparseness or simplicity. Between two kids, birthdays, holidays and four sets of grandparents, my playroom was anything but simple. In fact, it was so full of clutter and toys that my children simply wouldn’t play with anything. They would dump things out of baskets, but not take the time to play with what they’d just scattered on the floor! Something had to change.
I began doing some research, with the aim to bring the concept of minimalism to my children’s play space. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Kids are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work,” so the space in which they learn and play needed to evoke creativity and innovation. A great resource I found was Denaye (simplefamilies.com) who shares in my passion for minimalism with kids. In her words, “Fewer toys and possessions means you must imagine it, create it, or innovate with what you have.” So, how can I do my best to give them the right tools? Simply put, quality over quantity.
My quest began with storage bins - four of them to be exact. I brought out every basket of toys we had around our house, and I asked my almost four-year-old to help me in the decluttering process. To my surprise, including him in this empowered him. He helped chose the toys we kept out selectively and, to my surprise, he actually plays with the toys that remain. Additionally, I noticed the fewer, better toys we have to choose from, the more my children SHARE. They actually have to engage each other, using their imaginations and the concept of inclusion. It’s music to a mother’s ears.
A few tips and tricks to “toy minimalism:”
Some things to consider while choosing what to keep in your bins: do my children actually play with this? Is this toy made out of natural, raw materials? Does this toy add to unnecessary noise or does it promote creativity and learning?
A few other tips:
1) Keep toys within reach of your children. Allowing access promotes independence and learning.
2) Be intentional about “open toys,” or toys without an “end.” (i.e. building blocks or a dollhouse are open, whereas puzzles or most games are “closed,” once they’re finished they are no longer of interest.)
As Denaye suggests, there will be a detox period. By giving our children the space to create, innovate and use their imaginations, they may experience boredom…and that’s okay. Boredom is just as much a learning tool as any, perhaps more so than any toy, as it causes our children to look around and invent their next move. My conclusion? Fewer toys are actually better for our children, and everything we bring into our home and into the hands of our children should add value to their lives.
For more insights on minimalism and children, visit simplefamilies.com