We don’t always feel like it, but we’re good mums. We try our best to give them what they need and want. We try to balance EVERYTHING to give them the lives they deserve. And, we’re the best they’ve got.
How do we get more of the best and reduce the worst?
By weeding out the things that stand between us and the best bits of parenting.
For now, let’s focus on the toys that stand between us or our kids and fun!
So why declutter?
We COULD make it all Pinterest perfect, colour coordinated and perfectly organised but it’s much more realistic to have less to organise, so we ALWAYS declutter first. It’s not just about making it easier and prettier for mum though, it is actually better for the children too.
By having fewer toys children are better equipped to take care of their own belongings better – giving them independence, autonomy, confidence, life skills. They’re better able to find the toys they love and get the most joy out of them quickly and without distraction. – more time for play! Less fighting or moping. They get to use their imagination – believed to boost intelligence, empathy, creativity (site: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/beautiful-minds/201203/the-need-pretend-play-in-child-development)
Children with fewer toys are less likely to be ‘bratty’ – in fact, they are more likely to recognise brattiness in others and are put off by it. Scarcity activates the limbic system in the brain – the area responsible for motivation, emotion, learning and memory. This fosters cooperation between siblings and even within the only child as their different interests don’t need to compete with one another. (site: http://www.themotherco.com/2011/12/too-many-toys/). When their toys are few, they are valued more highly.
“Limiting toys allows for increased depth of play that allows children to process their day.” – Rachael “the joyful space specialist” (site: https://nourishingminimalism.com/limiting-toys-gives-children-more-ways-to-play/)
How to declutter toys:
Involve the children – you might be surprised how well your children deal with this process. It could be hard to start with, but the sooner you start this teaching the easier it will be in the long run. When we’re dealing with THEIR belongings, they need to have some control in the process.
Be prepared – prepare to spend some time on this. Prepare to give your child the time and space they need to make decisions while setting boundaries. Be prepared to say goodbye to some of the things YOU might not expect.
Attitude is everything – Your mood will affect theirs and theirs will, in turn, affect the outcome of your decluttering.
You are allowed to keep things too – but if your child chooses to part with something, it shouldn’t be in their space anymore or they haven’t been in control and they will not learn. Say “I understand you don’t want this anymore. Is it ok if I have it?” eg picture books, clothes, favourite baby toys.
Compare apples with apples and dolls with dolls – make it easier for your children by having them look at all of one category at a time. Set them a limit (the container concept) such as a shelf or basket and ask them to choose their favourites first. Once the allocated space is full, we can play one-in-one-out anything left can go to kids who might not otherwise get a Christmas present this year. – if you’ve bought second hand before, point that out to them, how it meant you could afford other things or helped save waste.
Have fun, celebrate, and praise – I do NOT encourage music or tv while decluttering – it’s too distracting. I DO encourage taking breaks if you are trying to do it all at once. Mini dance party between categories. Take photos to show off the great work they’ve done. Once it’s all done, play a game with the favourite toys – THEN PACK AWAY, read a book on the tidy bed, just lay down and spread out on the clear floor!
The LIFE CHANGING bit
Make sure your kids understand that we’re going to keep their space this way by not adding to it. If they receive a new toy, they have to consider where to put it. If the space we’ve allocated for soft toys is full and they get another effing beanie boo for their birthday, they’re going to have to make a choice. One in means one out.
Have a donations box easily accessible. I keep mine near my entryway. Some people keep it near the door to the garage; others use a box in the boot of their car. As long as EVERYONE in the family can get to it to put something in it at any time, it will do. This becomes part of their everyday vernacular. If it’s too small – donate, if you don’t like it anymore – donate if you’ve got a new toy and this is the “one out” – donate. This is for EVERYONE. As soon as they can walk and carry a pair of socks and understand a few words they can start learning. It goes for you too, it has to become part of your family.
Think about purchases before you buy them. Do you really want to buy your child more toys when they only really play with a quarter of the ones they own? Do they have space for it? Maybe you could put that money towards something else? Like a visit to a theme park or a really special Lego set, they might be saving up for.
I want you to think for a moment – when can you make time for this? Even half an hour will make a difference. Write it down now. Remember your child or children have to be there with you.
If this is still too overwhelming, please know you are not alone, that is where there are professionals like me to help keep you on track and accountable. Your best tool when decluttering is YOU the second best is a great support person. If you are struggling, I bet it’s the support that you are lacking.
Make the decision to declutter, make a plan, get your support and accountability booked in, and then you can enjoy the rest of your day knowing that you’ve got this locked and loaded ready to go into battle for your kids and your sanity!
Lauren Winzar is your Decluttering & Organising Coach. Bringing a light-hearted & non-judgemental approach to decluttering, Lauren reduces stress & overwhelm in her clients’ lives. Lauren doesn’t believe that we’re born organised & wants to help you learn the strategies that work for you so you can curate your ideal life.