Something took over our lives when we became parents. Our life was taken over by STUFF. Namely toys.
I blame myself for the situation, as it is so easy to accumulate ‘stuff.’
- You go to Mc Donalds to purchase a Happy Meal, they get a toy.
- School Birthday parties, there is a toy/gadget in most of the party bags.
- Their Birthday Parties there are toys.
- You go to Checkers, nowadays you also get toys.
- The children are spoilt by extended family members for Christmas holidays and birthdays.
When is it enough?
In 2018 I was already feeling this way, and for their joint birthday party (turning five and two), we politely ask everyone to bring newborn baby essentials which we donated to HATCH in Cape Town. HATCH provides moms from underprivileged areas a ‘starter pack’ containing newborn baby items to begin their mothering journey.
A few parents still brought gifts for the girls, which was appreciated.
I looked at my children’s toys scattered all over the house and how my children played with these toys.
I noticed the following things:
1) They were not playing with all their toys.
How could they? There were TOO MANY.
2) They did not spend a lot of time playing with any toy.
Again too many toys. There were a handful of toys that they played with most, the others were neither here nor there.
3) Cleaning up our home was a mission!
Legos, Blocks, Toys everywhere. Nevermind their clothes (that is a whole other story). It was so overwhelming. My desire to play with them also decreased.
So I gave away most of their toys. I did it without their involvement (too much stress otherwise).
I kept the following:
1) Self-contained Bag of legos and lego-like blocks.
2) Shoe sized Box of Wooden blocks.
3) Container with crayons and pencils (As they love drawing).
4) Box of puzzles & board games (mostly adult board games like scrabble etc.).
5) A Shoe sized box of smaller toys (figurines and cars) for imaginative play. We use it to add people and character to what we built with the blocks.
6) I kept their soft toys. Some soft toys sleep with them or they are kept in a box in their room (so it is very controlled).
7) One random toy box, which contains their favourite toys in there. Like their toy piano, toy xylophone, abacus, etc.).
I still feel that it is a lot despite the two black bags of toys I have given away.
But baby steps.
When we now get their favourite McDonald’s meal, I buy what they want separate and not the Happy Meal. As the Happy Meal comes with more toys that they don’t need. I just don’t feel that getting a toy with a meal is necessary.
I am not a complete monster, now and then I will allow them a Happy Meal with a toy.
What happened after we did the splurge?
1) It is so much easier to clean our house!
Let’s face it, with kids comes clutter. All kinds of clutter. Toys, books, clothing! Now tidying up at the end of the day is so much easier.
2) The toys I kept are the ones they play with.
Now it is so much easier to get them to sit down and play. They can actually focus on playing with the toys they love.
So, the wooden blocks are a favourite in our home. I noticed that they are much more creative during play. My feeling is that this is because they can actually get the most out of the toys they still have.
3. We can easily find things.
Before, when we were looking for a specific toy, it was a nightmare rummaging through everything. Now, things are easier to find. Also, keeping the toys together is simplified.
4. It is easier to rotate toys.
Example, when I am home with them on the weekend, I bring out something which I know they would not have played with during week.
5. I can easily see which toys they need.
I noticed that Caitlyn has outgrown most of her puzzles so I will make a point of getting her a new puzzle or two.
6. The playroom is much more inviting to play in.
The term ‘playroom’ is used very loosely here. It is basically a playroom/ study/ spare room. But, I digress…
Now they can actually play contently in the room as it is much tidier and easier to keep clean.
7. I feel lighter, and now I WANT to sit down and play with my children.
By decreasing the number of toys, I want to sit down with them. I am not overwhelmed by everything. We choose what we want to do and really PLAY.
By the way, they do not miss the things I gave away. I have not heard a peep about them looking for any toys. They have ENOUGH.
Motherhood: Living with intention
There is this notion that parenthood is chaos. That we must ‘survive motherhood.’ I reject that notion entirely. Yes, motherhood is busy, loud and chaotic, and that is okay.
But, I don’t want to ‘survive’ motherhood.
I want to thrive and enjoy my children.
We also started purging our home and practicing meal planning during the week. I am not so distracted by all the THINGS, and I can enjoy my home and my children more.
There are ways we can take back our lives as parents.
We can be intentional about our family life. By having fewer things, I feel lighter. I have more time for our priorities as a family and myself.
I work full time and am out of the house from 8am until 17h30 every week day.
Simplifying our life, and being a little organised has helped me to make the most of my time I have with my family.
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