Shortly after becoming a parent, a ridiculous amount of baby products soon took over our home, including the toys.
I was spending my days cleaning a home that seemed to never be in order because even after the toys had been put away there was the chest full of toys, and the play mat, and the bouncer, and the swing, and the walker, and all with all the exasperating children’s songs in the highest pitch possible.
That was when my husband and I decided it was time to let it all go. With an out-of-state move we left it all behind and started new, only adding what we absolutely needed.
Including just a few toys for my daughter; a couple stuffed animals, a baby doll, some books, some puzzles, art supplies, a box of toddler LEGOs and a tent.
In the beginning I thought she would be bored with so little to play with, but instead my daughter started playing with her toys for longer stretches of time. The clean up time became so simple, not only for her but for me also.
Simplifying our lives, getting rid of the excess, has brought such peace to our day to day, giving me less time organizing the mess and more time spending quality time with my family.
But how can you start simplifying your home? Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Talk about your decision to simplify with your spouse.
If you are in a relationship it’s important that both you and your spouse understand and are in one accord with this decision. I’ve found that if this isn’t the case simplifying can bring more trouble than it can solve. Have the conversation with your partner and come to a compromise that works for both you.
2. Find the reason why you want to simplify.
My reason was that I did not want to spend everyday cleaning up toys after my daughter, who didn’t seem to be playing with any of them. I wanted my home to feel peaceful and beautiful, and I didn’t want to have toys taking over every inch of my home. Finding your own “why” will give you the motivation to keep going.
3. Pick the room or the items that seem to be causing you the most stress, and tackle that first.
Find a day when you can focus on cleaning, find your nearest donation center, and make two piles for everything you don’t want to keep. One for donations and the other for trash. Try as much as you can to remove your feelings from things. There are some things that you’ll want to keep, a baby dress that was passed down from your grandmother, to your mother and then to you. Keep it. But if it’s the toy that your child doesn’t even remember in their room and it hasn’t been played with in years, let it go. Remember the reason why you wanted to simplify in the first place, and keep that in mind as your motivation.
4. Make the habit of constantly cleaning/donating.
I want to remind you that just because you did one donation/clean up day, doesn’t mean that things won’t start accumulating again. It happens all the time. I purposefully do big clean/donation days before birthday’s, Christmas, or any holiday when I know my kids will be receiving gifts. These cleans work great for us because it allows our kids to truly appreciate the toys they receive and it gives me peace knowing that all of this will not be accumulating to an overwhelming amount of toys.
5. Remember that you have the final say over your kids.
My eldest daughter is three years old and she is now remembering the toys she owns and just like any toddler she wants to keep everything she gets. I have found that cleaning out things she hasn’t played with in a while without asking her works best, because most of the time she doesn’t remember. But when she does ask for a toy I have given away I explain to her that we already have many toys she can play with. I sympathize with her, but I also know that this is the decision her dad and I took, and you’ll be surprised how great she takes things.
I want you to remember that kids are more interested in spending time with you than any toy or thing you could give them, even on the days when it doesn’t feel like it.