This past Sunday morning I watched my three kids partake in a neighbourhood egg hunt. There were about fifteen kids who took part. It was quite the experience. I don’t know how many items there were to find but it was a lot, spread over three different backyards. They had a blast and as parents, it was a lot of fun watching them explore the backyard and squeal with excitement when an egg was found, and inside of them were chocolate eggs, erasers, bouncy balls, pencils, stickers, little figurines, and trinkets. Most of which still sits in my children’s woven baskets on our kitchen counter, although the joy of the hunt was fun
This morning, I was brought to a realization as I started to “thin” the loot. I’ve struggled lately with the over abundance of stuff in our home. So. Much. Stuff. For the last 10 months we’ve had our house on the market and it sold just last week (yea!). In an effort to make it look “buyer friendly”, we packed away a lot of items that were not needed on a daily basis. Some of these things I dearly missed – family photos, a couple of board games, and a few mementos from past vacations that were lovely memories. However when I look at the ten full boxes in our back room I realize that most of them are probably filled with “stuff” that we don’t need. Quite frankly, I don’t even know what is in those boxes. I obviously don’t miss it. And neither do my kids as I know many of them were toys and other items from their rooms. And even though we have those ten boxes packed away neatly, there is still a ton of things in our children’s rooms and playroom.
I read a really interesting article yesterday about a mom who took away all (yes, all) of her children’s toys in an attempt to recognize the lack of contentment that was happening in her home. My husband, Tom, and I have noted this lately too. We both think that our children have way too many toys to keep them busy. They also have bikes, art supplies, a scooter, a movie collection, computers, a tree fort, books, and a huge backyard to keep them busy. And yet every once in a while we hear “Mom, I’m bored…there’s NOTHING to do.”
I remember growing up in the small village of Midhurst, Ontario. Other than the school, a small library and a general store there were no indoor areas to go and play within walking distance. There were lots of parks, walking trails, and neighbours yards. I played with other neighbourhood kids. We would have neighbourhood-wide games of tag, hide & seek, and Capture the Flag. We would build snow forts and mazes in our backyards in winter. Yes, we would also do sports and activities but there was no shortage of play for us growing up.
Even though both Tom and I encourage active play and imagination in our kids, we find that they default to the toys and other items in the house to keep them busy. So, I’m hedging. Hedging on what to do. While I don’t think the answer is to get rid of ALL of my kids’ toys, I do think a minimalist approach is in order. Unlike the author of the other article, I do feel that it’s important to have my kids involved. I want them to make the decisions on what stays and what goes. I also want to hold onto items that inspire imagination, for example with art supplies and books. Anything that encourages physical activity like sports equipment is definitely being kept. Whether we donate or have a garage sale (quite likely with our move coming up), the removal of toys and other items from our home will be a great step in the right direction.
Have other parents done this? What was your experience like? Did you have your kids involved? I would love any advice you can share.