Saturday, 30 May 2015

Minimalist parenting - losing the toys

Here's something my husband and I have been discussing lately. In a bid to simplify how about should we got rid of all the toys?

Any parent out there knows that living with kids can be messy and, well, just full of stuff! D and I, despite appearances, try to practise minimalism in our lives: conscious buying, frequent decluttering and we make a special effort to avoid plastic. (Here is a post on mindful buying and here and here two posts on how I struggled with getting rid of some of our books.)

Since becoming parents we have found that our house has filled with toys, most of them plastic, most of them hardly being used. Sitting down one evening to discuss the toy situation, which had got quite dire, we realised that the number of toys that we have bought for him is precisely... zero. 

We have accumulated a great number of toys through presents, but mostly through the generous donations of old toys from friends. 

The toys have filled a lot more space than we ever wanted to give them. The question is, however, does J use them? Does he play with them? Or are they just filling up his cupboards (and our living room floor, and the bath...)? 

I've spent the last week watching him. Trying to see what he does use and what he doesn't. And here's the verdict (though, I'm sure any experienced mum could have told me): he hardly ever uses any of them! 

J, like any toddler worth his salt, spends the whole day playing, both out in the garden and inside.
Playing with dirt and old plant pots in the garden
But what does he play with? Real things are overwhelmingly preferred over any kind of toy: pots and pans, his dad's tools (we allow him to use most things under supervision), plants and dirt, real bricks and tiles.
Emptying the washing machine
He loves taking washing out of the machine, putting pegs into their box and playing with old packaging. His toys fail to keep his attention the way my head torch does, or the old egg carton. In fact, the recycling bin is an endless source of inspiration for him. 
Hours of fun trying to work out how the buckles work (I'm sure I will regret this soon...)
Yet still, I hesitate to throw away all of the toys. Much like the painted wall of his nursery and the dinosaurs on his pyjamas they are the trappings of childhood. What do you think? How do you deal with all the toys? Do you have toy-free zones or a regular cull? Or do you simply find clever storage solutions? 

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