Like many of you, my children share a room. Sharing a room teaches valuable lessons about simplicity, getting along and life. However, trying to fit all the toys and clothes for multiple children in a small room and leave room for playing is a challenge.
Rearranging the furniture for optimal floor space helps, but pursuing simplicity in the toy and clothes collection is essential.
Ten ways to simplify the toys:
Christmas & birthdays. Thrift store finds. Generous friends.
Before you know it, your child’s room can be overflowing with toys. Toys are meant to be played with. To loosely paraphrase Solomon, “where no children are, the toys are picked up, but happily playing children are a great blessing.” (Prov. 14:4)
However, more toys do not necessarily equal more happiness. A few sticks and pebbles are all some children in the world have. I’m not sure American kids are any happier with their buckets and buckets of toys.
Here are a ten ways that I try to balance fun and simplicity. (You can see pictures of my children’s room here, though I’ve rearranged it since then.)
- Distinguish between durable and disposable toys. Some of my children’s toys I hope my grandchildren will play with, like Duplos. Some toys however (say the Easter eggs from the neighbor) I consider disposable and only keep for a few weeks. After the fun has worn off they are donated or tossed.
- Choose neutral toys, when possible. Dolls and trucks are practically indispensable parts of a toy collection, but you don’t need a pink and blue version of everything!
- Say “No!” Just because you’re offered free hand-me-downs or find a toy for a quarter at a yard sale, doesn’t mean your child needs it. Sometimes, you just need to say “no!” (Or let your children play with them for a few weeks and then pass them on.)
- Rotate the toys so that there are less toys out and they get “new” toys regularly.
- Set mess perimeters. I mentioned this in my post on clutter, but having a few guidelines for where and when toys can be played with makes such a difference! We have set clean-up times several times daily as well as a “no toys in the living room after dinner” rule. Play with one toy “set” at a time, then put it away (we’re working on this one!)
- Keep birthdays & Christmas gifts simple: Laura Ingalls was happy with a tin cup and a penny. You can show your love without going overboard. Choose quality over quantity.
- Gifts are a way many grandparents, other family members or friends show their love. However, sometimes the influx of gifts can get overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with multiple children in a small room. This is a sensitive issue and may not be wise or kind in all situations, but if possible, respectfully address overly generous gift-givers. My children have been blessed with grandparents that are so thoughtful of my children and me with their gifts. But, if you are getting overwhelmed by gifts, try to find a kind way to encourage gifts that will bless your child and you. A frazzled mom is not a good gift! A few possible ideas: offer hints for toys your child would treasure, let them know that what your child has plenty of toys and would most like would be to spend time with them (a trip to the zoo, museum, etc.) or set up an Amazon wish list for your child. (Remember though, never wound someone who loves your child over gifts!)
- Embrace the simple things. Boxes for boats, blankets for forts, chairs for houses. Children are so creative and content! Often, it’s the parent not the child who thinks they need more.
- Donate, sell or toss unused toys. Clearing out the toys that aren’t loved makes room to really enjoy the treasured toys. If you find toys consistently taken out and forsaken (for you to step on ;)) it’s time for them to go!
- Get outside. Let them play with the sticks and pebbles… and maybe even take a dip in the mud.
This post is getting dreadfully long. We’ll have to tackle the kids’ clothes Wednesday…
What about you? How do you handle all the toys? I would *love* your ideas (especially since we plan to add little Meg to the kids’ room soon)!
Linking up at Handful of Heart and Better Mom Monday