Several months ago, I was at the end of my rope with cleaning. With 5 kids my house was literally stacked to the rafters with more toys than Santa’s workshop.
I spent more time cleaning the toys than playing with my kids. The rest of the time I was moaning at them to clean up. We were fast running out of places to put all the toys and my kids, more often than not, were saying they were bored!
Every, Easter, Christmas and birthday, well-meaning relatives buy my children some amazing gifts, they are so generous and it’s great to see the kids getting so spoiled but on the flip side there was a lot of negatives that came along with their generosity.
A few months ago I was browsing the Internet when I came across an article about why fewer toys are better and it struck a chord. My kids were so overwhelmed with the vast number of toys they couldn’t decide what to do.
On the rare occasions they played happily, they made so much mess that they ran out of space to continue playing.
It was a vicious circle that is played out in many homes throughout the world. Play, mess, moan, clean, then rinse and repeat.
After reading the article I decided to have a proper declutter and be very strict about what would stay. i wanted the harmony back and above all i wanted to reduce the time i spent cleaning up toys.
I made a list of toys that i felt offered more open ended playing opportunities and that would be easy for the kids to tidy up themselves each time they played. I wanted them to learn to be responsible for their own mess but also wanted them to have a say i want stayed and what went. We decided the following would stay.
Wooden train track
Top trumps cards
They each got one special toys each to keep. One of my sons loves fire engines, so we kept one. Everything else either went to landfill (if broken), charity or was carbooted, with any monies made going towards a family activity.
It seemed quite a daunting task but once I started it took about 7 hours in total to get rid of everything.
The first thing I noticed immediately was THE SPACE! Everything looked sleek and tidier than it’s looked for a good 7 years. The house felt airy once again and the kids seemed happier. I felt like a weight had been lifted.
The knock-on effect was over the coming weeks it took no time at all to tidy. 10 minutes every evening and everything was back in boxes, ready for the following day.
As a result, we could play together once again, cards, games and reading together was happening daily.
I noticed soon after the younger kids were playing longer on things. Hours at a time were spent drawing and sticking and gluing. The began to make more elaborate Lego buildings and began researching how to build various things with the box of Knex they had, but never used.
They stopped bickering as much and played together both separately and together happily. They just seemed happier in general, which in turn made me happier.
Making the kids realise that what we have must be looked after as they are not disposable, if you break it, then it’s gone and won’t be replaced for a good stretch of time. Which helps to grow accountability for their actions.
Apart from the initial getting rid of everything, living with less means you are significantly reducing what goes to landfill. Which has to be beneficial for your kids future.
We have started to think about moving forward thinking with less. How we can maintain it without the kids feeling like they are missing out if stuff. I love having a house chock full of presents at Christmas but if we want to maintain living with less a new way of thinking has to be adopted.
We have decided to invest in things that really bring the kids joy. For example, a family pass to a local tourist attraction. Or investing in a timber play frame for the kids. It will mean that family will need to limit what they buy too. So, we have ideas like:
Opening a bank account
Taking the kids for days out instead
Buying a joint present
Saving for a large item the kids want
We have been spending a lot of time outside since decluttering. Buying a family pass to our local zoo and spending many hours there has helped to limit screen time, increase exercise and is hugely educational to boot.
Have you decluttered and found the experience positive? Please share your story below in the comments.
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