Soon after we moved in to our new home I read a parenting book. Over the last thirteen years, I’ve read many, many parenting books. This one stood out. It initiated a shift in my perspective which marked the beginning of my simplicity journey. The book is called Simplicity Parenting.I cannot recommend it enough.
Last year, we moved homes and I had the opportunity to give away a lot of the toys I didn’t want moving with us. Our new home wasn’t built when we sold our house so we were between homes for the Summer. Most of our stuff was in storage, and I was counting on the fact that the kids would forget about the missing toys by the time we moved again. Besides, I could always use the excuse that they got lost in the move(s).
It was just too good an opportunity to pass up!
I kept just one box of toys to tide us over the Summer. As I packed the toys, I noticed that we didn’t own any building-type toys (I like those kind). After a couple of hours on the internet I decided to purchase a box of Magformers. My two little ones still play with these on a regular basis and we’ve had them over a year now.
I also bought my son wooden trains and tracks – his first boy toys. Up until then he’d been playing with the girls’ old baby toys. Although I had already completed a make-over for our toy collection, Simplicity Parenting inspired me to re-assess the situation.
Growing up, I remember having a mere handful of play things. I had a couple of dolls, a teddy bear, a toy record player that played nursery rhymes and a lot of books (I loved reading, still do). As I got older, my toy collection included classic board games like Ludo and Monopoly. One of my favorite pass-times was imagining that I had escaped from the bad guys (my family) and I would spend (what seemed like hours) tip-toeing around the house trying not to get caught, and of course, to stay out of sight.
This kind of imaginary play is not something I often see in my younger kids, and when it does appear on those precious, rare occasions, it doesn’t last for very long. In contrast, my older girls used to make up all kinds of scenarios to act out, and it kept them entertained for hours.
I have a niggling feeling that increased screen time is to blame. I’m ashamed to admit it, but the simple truth is my fist born didn’t start watching t.v. until she was almost three. My son (my fourth child) started at the ripe old age of one. He also mastered how to use a computer mouse as well as how to navigate an ipad by the time he was two! I’m convinced that increased screen time has robbed my kids of their ability for creative, imaginary play.
The niggling feeling inevitably lead to a second overhaul of our toy collection. By the time I was finished, I had filled two garbage bags to donate to the Salvation Army.
Granted, our collection is smaller than what it was a year ago. However, all the toys get played with on a regular basis. The kids barely noticed the change. It helped that I added some items to the collection in order to promote simple play (we still had a serious lack of boy toys)!
Most of the toys in our collection are now made of wood which makes them more durable as well as nicer to handle. Very few require batteries. With fewer toys, the kids are much better at tidying up after themselves, so it’s a win-win.
Flashing lights and fancy sounds can be great for awhile and can certainly entertain, but nothing can unleash the imagination more so than simple toys.
I love listening in on the conversations my little boy has as he drives his trains and trucks around the house! After I saw how simple toys affected my kids play (for the better), I was eager to implement some of the other changes outlined in the book.
My journey began with simplifying our toy collection, but it doesn’t end there. One of the goals for starting this blog was for me to have a platform to share my simplicity journey. I’m hoping it will help me to stay accountable to my commitment to change (sometimes it’s easy to fall back into old habits). I hope to share many more of the simple changes I’ve made to our lives in future posts.