Paring Down on Toys

80% of the kids toys disappeared overnight and their reaction floored us. The feared mutiny to minimalism has never come and we’re all happier.

Before hosting my daughter’s first birthday we stashed nearly all the toys in the basement. Save one small toy basket, play kitchen and a ride-on, the rest were hidden away. All this was done while the kids slept and I steeled myself for the meltdowns in the morning. Except they never came.

Literally 80% of the kid’s toys disappeared overnight and they didn’t even seem to notice. Like didn’t say one word about it.

So we stuck with it, swapping the contents of the basket and larger ride-ons every couple days. Nightly clean up time was reduced to minutes and no one seemed to be too restless with less distraction options.

Image by http://www.smallhousebigcity.com

It’s been six months now and I’m finally comfortable enough that no mutiny is coming to have sold our large toy storage unit and pass along quite a few less-loved items.

Simplicity Parenting

I’ve always tried to keep a thoughtful and small toy collection and found psychologist Kim John Payne’s book Simplicity Parenting an accessible and easy read on the benefits to children on having less stuff in their lives. https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/simplicity-parenting-using-the-extraordinary/9780345507983-item.html

Time and again he saw little people that were more emotionally balanced and happier when toys and busy schedules were simplified. And like my own experience, most of the kids he worked with didn’t even comment on a reduction in their toys, despite parents’ fears.

The book gives great advice on how to purge and the pieces to invest in, like kid-size table, costumes, a tent-like space. And those than can go, such as branded character toys with limited creative uses and noisy obnoxious toys (hurray).

Ironically after reading it I went out and bought something new for the kids- a small table and chairs as suggested. It seemed unnecessary but has become a place where both kids are drawn daily for self-directed creative play.

Simplicity Parenting offers no magic number of toys to possess and I never would have thought it’d be as low as our current number but for now its working. As the kids get older we’ll certainly need to adjust but I’m grateful for our little unplanned experiment to realize we can drastically pair down and all be happier.

The Great Media Purge

As a student without cable and pre-Netflix I used to love Thursday night Blockbuster nights. The ritual began with walking the outer store perimeter to review the new releases from A to Z and then trying to convince my friends that my pick was clearly the night’s winner. Don’t bother with the middle aisles, ever.

Next a stop at Metro for Smart Food and M&Ms. Over the years I managed to amass a fairly sizable collection of DVDs largely thanks to Blockbuster’s bins of pre-owned treasures.

Remember two-day rentals and please be kind rewind? Blockbuster has faded to nostalgia thanks to online streaming and I haven’t bought a DVD since getting Netflix but somehow my boxes of DVDs haven’t faded away. I didn’t even bother with a media display when moving into our home five years ago.

Ditto for my CDs which haven’t had a new addition since I discovered Songza and now Spotify.

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Its hard to say goodbye to old friends, isn’t it? How many bed-ridden days has Bridget Jones gotten me through? And Never Ending Story is clearly a classic in my books.

Netflix obviously doesn’t have everything, though more than I’ll ever be able to watch. Thankfully you can also rent movies online of course, that’s how we finally managed to see the latest Star Wars released during newborn baby madness.

There’s also the local library, I headed straight there to remedy the fact that I hadn’t seen or even heard of Lilies of the Field a Sidney Poitier classic, much to my parents dismay (clearly I should have spent more time in middle aisles of Blockbuster).

So I’m ready to let these go, mostly.  Johnny Cash’s greatest hits stays for cleaning marathons, Disney and awesome road trip cds stay too, Princess Bride hangs in there because its my favourite and Bridget Jones stays too because I’m just not ready to let her go.