As part of my “Minimalist Mom” series, I want to first address one of the first issues a mother has to tackle when attempting to keep a clutter-free home. Personally, I define “minimalism” as a lifestyle approach that means surrounding yourself only with items that truly bring you joy and are necessary (as opposed to the aesthetic definition, where you see a sparse home with very few belongings, which frankly is unrealistic for a family). By doing this, your home will feel more peaceful, your life will run more smoothly by reducing choices, therefore saving yourself time and reducing stress.
Is your child’s room overflowing with toys? Do toys fall out of your car, every time you open the car door? Are you stepping on tiny plastic pieces? Do you feel like you spend all of your days just picking up & picking up & picking up again? Are the toys trailing off into every room of the house? Do you wince at the eyesore sight of circus-colors dotting your home? Do you feel overwhelmed and stressed by the sheer amount? … I’m willing to bet your child is, too.
Here are some thoughts on how to tackle the playroom clutter.
Remove Unused Toys
This step is the first and most obvious step. Pay attention to what your child actually plays with and what they have grown out of developmentally. When your child is not around, bag them up to donate or try selling larger items on Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Craigslist. If you are saving toys for a future child, or have a few sentimental items, box them up and put them somewhere out of the way (like your mother’s attic, for example). If your child has a say-so in what toys are leaving, you’re not going to make a big enough dent.
Make a goal for a few toys that will remain. In my case, I have three medium-sized baskets sitting out, and that is all that is available in the room. Kids can only make as big of a mess as you allow them to. I find that the larger, stationary toys are best and most-used, as well. For example, my child and all of the friends who come to visit, seem much more interested in the play kitchen and the dollhouse than the box of random smaller toys.
Cycle The Toys
Designate a dresser drawer or an out-of-reach box in the closet to be the spot for all of the “other” toys that you don’t want to throw away just yet. When you notice your child is growing bored with a few toys you left in the room, switch them out with items in the secret box. They will be elated and the toys will be like new again!
Aesthetically Pleasing Toys
I’ve found that my stress level is lower when my child’s toys are not offending my interior decorating. I try to keep most of her toys in neutral tones that “match” the house and have a quaint feel. If her vintage wicker baby stroller is left out in the middle of the living room, it makes me smile–as opposed to my reaction to a hot-pink and purple plastic castle with pink blinky lights all over it.
Click here for my post on aesthetically pleasing toys.
Make Wishlists for Toys (& Experiences)
To continue my last point, I’ve tried to make it very clear to the family members who I know will want to buy my child toys for holidays and birthdays that I’m not a fan of hot-pink plastic. I’ve got a Pinterest Board made with aesthetically pleasing toys appropriate for her age, and if they are looking for ideas, they are welcome to browse that. Even if they are not purchasing precisely what is on that Board, they now understand my aesthetic. Even better, include experiences on your wish lists –like passes to the museum, aquarium, botanical garden or zoo. A true minimalist is much more interested in making memories with experiences, than collecting material items.
Keep the Noise in the Car
I don’t want the circus-colored or noisy toys in my home — but I don’t mind them in my car. My backseat is full of plastic that lights up and sings songs. These toys never cease being of interest to her because she only gets to play with them while in her car seat. This has made our many road trips so much easier. If she had already been playing with these toys in the home, she would have lost interest five minutes down the road.
A Place to Learn
Keeping the playroom tidy will not only make you feel saner, it will foster a stress-free place to learn for your child, too. Look into “Montessori Style” rooms to ensure that your child can reach each book and toy and has a place to be creative with art supplies, Play-Doh, and more.
Click here to learn more about minimizing the clutter in the playroom with St. Augustine Moms Blog contributor Meagan Nordmann Fowler on News4Jax River City Live: