Decluttering: the kids toys

Since the start of the year, I’ve been all about decluttering and simplifying our home. I’ve always been an organiser, so it comes naturally and brings me great satisfaction. And neither Nick nor I are hoarders – we like to move things on when we no longer need them.

But that said, we still seem to be surrounded by a lot of stuff. And when the stuff is just sitting around collecting dust, or filling in the spaces, creating a visual clutter to mirror my mind – then it’s time to re-evalutate. Why do we have it? What is it used for? Does it add any value, or bring joy to our lives?

I really enjoyed decluttering the kitchen a little while ago, and blogged about it: here. A few months on and it still looks just the same. 

In terms of the kids toys, I’ve always had a bit of a system going: labeled boxes of categorised items, in lieu of random boxes of miscellany. So the problem wasn’t in my organising, it was simply in the clutter. We just had so many (albeit organised) boxes laying around the house, filling every nook, and almost none of it was ever getting picked up, explored, or played with. (I mean, occasionally a box might be upturned, with no real purpose or intent – but it would then remain upturned the whole day long… until I eventually gave in and tidied it up myself).

So I gave the toy boxes an overhaul one day, donating and selling some things, and then I  transferred them all down to the garage – where still they sit today.

Please ignore the state of the garage!

My intention was that, each evening, I would bring up a different box and set up a ‘play invitation’ on the coffee table for the morning. Maybe the train set; or some animals and random pebbles and sticks; or dolls with a doctors kit from the dress up hamper or something. Go all ‘kindy’ on it! But the truth is, I’ve never quite gotten into the rhythm of doing that… and I’m not so sure the kids would be all that bothered anyway…

Generally, they just like to watch TV first thing – a quiet half an hour with their smoothies as the sun is rising – before Beau will play a little on the Wii, or maybe get the LEGO out, whilst Georgie just potters around and gets under my feet as I make lunches and tidy up from breakfast, before then it’s time to jump on our bed / brush teeth.

When Beau’s at kindy, Georgie and I are usually out – at a playgroup or a playground, or running errands, or going for a walk – or, if we’re at home, I’ll be doing housework whilst she tags along with me or potters around doing her own thing. She enjoys putting things in and out of the cupboards on her (formerly Beau’s) little play kitchen (although my own cupboards are FAR more interesting!), and she’ll lose herself into some water painting, if I set her up with them. She certainly hasn’t noticed an absence of toys; neither of them have.

I do wonder how long the toy boxes will remain in the garage, until it’s time to let them go for good because the kids will have outgrown them all! And now their next birthdays are imminent, and Christmas is hot on the tails… so it might be time to chat with family about gift-giving this year – because our needs are minimal, if anything.

It must be said – it’s been painful to realise (and admit) the role we have in contributing to this modern, unsustainable lifestyle of ‘new and replace.’ So Santa might be visiting some op shops this Christmas, and not only because we’ll be bankrupt.

Anyway, back to the post at hand. Categories for our toy boxes are as follows:

  • Train tracks
  • Musical instruments
  • Dolls and figurines
  • Building blocks
  • Shape sorters
  • Vehicles
  • Animals

And upstairs we still have the following:

  • Books
  • Cuddly toys
  • Arts + crafts
  • Puzzles
  • LEGO
  • Dress ups
  • Play kitchen
  • + a dolls cradle (rarely looked at).

We also have an outside toy chest – filled with balls, buckets, deflated paddling pools, and goodness knows what else – but it’s yet to be decluttered, so no more on that!

And there’s a trampoline.

Overall, I’d say the kids do watch a bit too much TV – and this is something I will wean myself off over the summer months (because it’s me putting it on when I’m tired etc, not them being overly demanding!) – but mostly their time at home is spent playing together with LEGO; either the puzzles, or the arts/crafts; or pottering outside and bouncing around on the trampoline.

Beau is definitely into the Wii at the moment; Georgie really likes to just climb all over the furniture; and they both enjoy pulling out the dress up hamper every now and then – especially when we put some good music on after dinner and they fancy a dance party!

And of course there’s the books – Beau can’t get enough books at the moment – lately he’s started to enjoy my Roald Dahl books before bedtime, which makes my heart so happy. And Georgie is still a big fan of Peepo. Another childhood favourite of my own. (Although she’s been purchased a newer version, so as to not wreck my 80s original. She’s a wrecker).

So as far as the toys go… it’s proven to me that they need very little indeed. Some books, some LEGO, plenty of paper and pencils and paints… and outdoor space for them to tumble into.

I’m writing this whilst they are at Granny and Grandad’s on a sleepover… with acres of garden and field and trees to run around. And Nick is at the workshop finishing Georgie’s birthday dolls house. Because surely no childhood would be complete without one of those?!

There’s minimalism, and then there’s mindfulness – so long as the kids are aware, and conscious of the items that belong to them, then I’ll feel quite content with that.

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