If you read my articles you know that I try to be as real as possible. You may detect a hint of minimalism about my articles when I speak about stuff. Here is my minimalist views for my children’s toys…and everything else we own.
I am not a huge minimalist but I do make sure things are kept under control. Everything I own has a meaning or a purpose. I keep that same mentality with my children’s toys. Being a single mom with 4 kids I can’t let them keep everything they ever get from every Christmas and Birthday. I have raised my children to have giving and grateful hearts so every few months or so we dig thru the bottom of their toy box and give their toys to “kids that don’t have any toys.” (That is also where their old clothes go).
Does It Make Your Heart Happy?
Is there a memory attached to that item? Something I may see as junk, you may see as that special thing your grandma gave you when you were born. If it has a place in your heart, it stays. This isn’t an excuse to keep everything everyone gives you! These are special items that you would actually regret not having in 10 years.
Some things you can display. I have handprints from the years, artwork the kids made, and trinkets displayed in my home. It makes me happy seeing my wall of art. For everything else, either pack it away or put it in a hope chest of some kind. I have a hope chest my grandfather made me at the end of my bed and I collect things in there that are special to me. I have a box in storage for each child that I keep special things that one day they might want when they move out and have families of their own. These things make my heart happy when I see them.
Is it Being Used?
The other day I found a box of toys that I had put away after Christmas. This box contained toys that my children liked, but couldn’t see because they had too many and these poor toys ended up in the bottom of the toybox. I brought the box inside their room to see what we could give away.
I noticed that my children were playing with a lot of things that were not toys. This to me is a sign that they have too many and are not able to determine what they like to play with because they can’t see any of them! My children know by now that we give our toys away to other kids “that don’t have toys” so when mom pulls the garbage can and an empty box into their room they know what’s about to happen!
We just picked up the rest of the house so all the toys that had been played within the last week or so were in a laundry basket. This made it SO much easier for me to know what they were actively playing with. If I haven’t seen it in the past few months, it went into the donation box. I told myself that it would be quick-10 things just to make me feel better. My 4 year old came in and with her grateful heart (completely out of character for her) she decided to give some more that I would have been unsure of. She would say she “didn’t really play with it and she thinks someone else would probably like it.” So sweet. We ended up filling half a box and I found some baby toys that my 2 year old is too big for.
Are They Too Old or Too Young?
This rule is pretty self-explanatory. If your youngest is too old for a toy, give it away! There is no need for you to keep it thinking they will one day play with it again. Your 8 year old doesn’t want the ring stacking toy! Give it away!
If you have children a bit spaced out like I do it might be worth it to keep some toys. Your 10 year old may not want those big legos anymore but your 2 year old may get into them shortly. Put them away and label the box clearly. Bring it back out in a year or so and see if the younger child likes them. It’s worth storing them so you don’t have to waste money next year. Keep it organized in your storage space.
Forego the Gifts and Take a Trip!
When I first became a single mom I decided I got overwhelmed by birthdays and Christmas. All the stuff everywhere and then the clutter in the kids’ rooms, only to give most of those toys away a few months later. The toy they just HAD to have never even came out of the package! My son HAD to have this one robot dinosaur. It was the hit of the year so it was really hard to find and it was well over $100. That kind of money for a newly single mom on one toy was a lot! He played with it less than a week, it went into his closet and I found it about a year later when he was asking for the same dinosaur.
It’s not their fault, all the ads that are thrown at kids is atrocious. I chose to go a different path. Every year instead of traditional birthdays and Christmas, we take a trip. I save all year for it. We go somewhere together, as a family. I spend about what I would for “traditional celebrations” but we create memories. They get to buy a souvenir (the older ones now get a spending limit and the little ones get a couple things they will play with). We celebrate all of our birthdays (which all fall from mid-October to January) and Christmas in a fabulous way!
I don’t usually get them a birthday gift on their birthday, their friends and relative’s gifts are enough that they don’t even really notice nothing came from mom. For Christmas, I set a limit of $100-200 for each child and I do a lot of black Friday shopping. We celebrate Christmas the same way as anyone else but on a smaller scale when it comes to gifts from mom. They have used just about everything they’ve received from me (I am still tweaking the system). My kids can’t tell you what they got for Christmas 3 years ago, but they can tell you what we did! I think it’s worth it.
I see too often on those shows about people looking for houses that they “need” a bigger place because they “outgrow” their old place. A lot of the time you will see they just have too much stuff! You will see baby toys in their living room when their youngest child is 7! (You will notice this too now, you’re welcome hehe) That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but honestly, if you make an effort every few months to give away and throw away things that don’t meet the criteria you will see yourself and your children shift their mindset to enjoy what they own.
Take It 10 Things At A Time
Enjoy the Moments,
Not the STUFF
Peace and Balance,