Thankyou for taking the time to read this post! I have two small children, and for the past three years I feel we have gradually been drowning under an slowly increasing tide of toys. I have recently read Simplicity parenting, You are your childs first teacher and Heaven on Earth and I feel like I really want to change our family life. I have starting donating some of toys to charity shops and hiding some things away, but I feel I have a long way to go! I also have a slight problem with family continually buying toys and presents for my kids and I don't want to hurt their feelings by saying no. What do I do?
Does anyone know how I can help my children be more creative and play more? They have so far had mainstream toys, i.e noisy and plastic and I am keen to move away from this.
Has anybody here been in this situation? Any help or advice would be gratefully recieved!
Welcome! Toys are a hard thing, aren't they? I think there have been a number of threads in this forum about unwanted toys and how to handle that politely. One thing that I have done that I think helps us (as we have a great-grandmother who LOVES to shop) is to have catalogs sent to the home of the gift-buyers. That way, they're getting ideas that are more in line with what we would like our children to have. It's made a big difference for us and we're often consulted about gifts as a result.
Another idea is to rotate toys. My little girl knows that most anything she wants is in our basement (which is very old and unsafe for her) and that all she has to do is ask and I will likely produce it for her. Sometimes bigger toys go on "vacation" when she asks for another big toy, like a car or rocking horse.
If you receive toys that are simply not something you want your children to have, leave them unopened at the time of receiving them. Chances are, your children may forget about them. A friend of mine returns toys like that to the store. She's brave! I have been known to get out a few of a multi-part toy (like a tea set) and get rid of the rest. If you have a family member that is especially concerned with whether or not their gift is being used, store it away for when they come to visit.
For items that I am wanting to eliminate, I am careful not to upset my child with this choice. I will sometimes store things out of sight for a time and wait for her to ask for them. If she doesn't for a few weeks, I consider it safe to get rid of them. It's a fine balance to eliminate clutter and respect your children at the same time, but it can be done.
For the loud toys, let the batteries die or just trash them. I have come to see that many toys are not needed--my oldest (the only one currently playing with toys) comes back to the same things repeatedly. Keep the favorites and leave the rest for the garbage man or donate. Any toy can be open-ended in a child's eyes, so creativity will surely pick up with fewer things around.
Mothering an Autumn (08) , a Spring (11) , and another Autumn! (Nov. 2013)
Taking what works and leaving the rest
Thankyou for getting back to me!
I have started putting things in binbags and hiding them in cupboards! It's astonishing, I filled three huge bags today and still there are plenty of toys left. Good news is the kids haven't noticed!
Handing out catalogues to family is a really good idea, I will definately be doing that. On another forum someone suggested asking for experiences as gifts or making a giftlist; pretty good ideas too!
When the kids got back from their day with Granny, we had rearranged their room and the living room. Toys were on shelves and in baskets. There was plenty of floor space to build a wooden train track or build a castle of blocks. They could see their toys! For them it was like Christmas morning. Until that moment, I hadn't fully realized that the 'abundance' we'd been living with was smothering my kids.
Good luck, Mama! It feels so wonderful to do that work and it feels even better afterwards.
I can so relate, what a relief it was to read Kim John Payne's book,
I was so impressed and amazed at the impact it has had on our lives, I am starting the Simplicity Parenting training this week to facilitate how to support parents in the different aspects of simplifying our lives...on the call last night we did a straw poll and it seems like children never complain when the mountain of toys is reduced...
As far as dealing with the relatives who gave those gifts that are getting removed, I think attics or basements are a good place to put those toys and a gentle conversation about what you want you children to have in terms of gifts and I personally have started telling family about what a relief it is to reduce the clutter and thereby asking them not to add any more.
Suggesting what gifts for the children is a great already suggested - there are some lovely arts and crafts things from any Waldorf supplier - beeswax for modeling, natural felt for crafting, silk scarfs for playing dressup etc that are perfect present for a simplicity parent's child.
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Ok, I'll put in a plug for a bit of a "cold turkey" approach. Last year, we saved up as much $ as we could and bought a lot of Waldorf friendly toys at the Waldorf festival. We took that opportunity to purge all the plastic, noisy stuff and insert the Waldorf stuff. I literally did it overnight or during nap when my daughter was sleeping. She didn't miss the old stuff at all because she was delighted and intrigued with the new stuff.
Less was more. It had to be! And, best of all, I feel good about all of her toys now. I'm not good with the discipline requiried to do stuff gradually, so I need to make big changes all at once when I'm feeling motivated or I risk not following through. I will say we got a quality play kitchen which is the centerpiece of her play now. If I could only have one toy for her -- that would be it!
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