Meet Exhibit A.
Where do they all come from?! ?? #timetocull #toysrus #overtakenbytoys #nomoreplease #softtoys #imaginativeplay by @theplumbette
I had put our fabric tee pee up in the living area and my girls had decided to bring out all their stuffed animals. The girls were entertaining themselves, so I took to the couch to open the mail.
As I got up to put the envelopes in the bin, I was shocked to see all their stuffed toys on the floor.
I had only culled a stack of stuffed animals a month ago and placed them as ‘beans’ in a bean bag.
But clearly we needed to cull more.
Every Christmas, Easter and Birthday, a new stuffed animal toy is added to our ‘collection’.
We certainly don’t need anymore, but I have no doubt, more will be added to our stockpile over time.
What gets me about having this amount of toys is finding storage for them and getting the kids to pack them up after they’ve played with them. My girls will generally pack them up, but will ask for mummy’s help to get started.
A mum in the US, Allie Casazza, was over constantly yelling at her kids to pick up their toys after playing with them.
When she was pregnant with her third child, and fed up with constantly cleaning her home, she started throwing stuff out.
Now she is a mum to four and her children’s toys have been culled to fit into a single bin.
Casazza writes a blog, The Purposeful Housewife, to help other families embrace a minimalist life.
She remembers the moment she decided to become a minimalist household.
“I just had this day when I realized that I was yelling. I was basically pushing my kids aside and getting them busy and out of my way so that I can maintain my house.”
That ‘aha’ moment was four years ago. Now, she’s known as the minimalistic mum. She’s given away many possessions and has decluttered her home.
“I was very unhappy, overwhelmed,” Casazza said. “My kids’ childhood was slipping by me while I was cleaning up. My stuff was owning me, rather than the other way around, and I was determined to find a different way.”
Casazza now has a system in place. If one of her kids loses interest in a toy, she doesn’t put it away, she gives it away.
Her kids Bella, 7, Leland, 5, Hudson, 4, and Emmett, 1, are all on board the minimalistic lifestyle.
They play with what they want to keep and are happy to donate or give away toys they no longer want to play with.
“Once a month, I’ll get into their toy bin and I will ask them, “OK guys, what are you playing with? What are you not into anymore? What can we give to people who don’t have any toys?
“And they’ll just voluntarily say, ‘Mum I don’t want play with this anymore, or I really want to keep this,’ and [it] keeps the toys in a rotation where there’s never really too much.”
Some toys, like trains and Legos, are kept off the giveaway list. “When you get rid of toys,” Casazza says, “you want to keep those open-ended, imaginative items that will fill the day and build their brains.”
The mum of four is convinced that the secret to experiencing the fullness of life is to have less stuff.
“I think a lot of mums really have a deep desire for a simpler lifestyle,” she says, “and they either don’t know how to get there, or they’re afraid to let go of the things that they think they might need. It’s kind of a shame because this really is the answer.”
Some psychologists believe a minimalistic lifestyle may work for some families, but not for others.
Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychologist and the author of Your Best Age is Now says, “If Casazza feels tidying up keeps both her and her household a happier place, I think that’s great.”
“She has found a method that works for her and her family. [But] when parents are working and going to doctor appointments and going to meetings and trying to put so much on their plate, I think this idea that one-size-fits-all is a dangerous one. This goal/desire to keep things tidy can cause stress and get some mums to engage in unnecessary ‘self-attack’ if they can’t achieve this.”
I think Casazza has a point about many parents desiring a simpler lifestyle. We do live in a consumeristic -driven world and I know as a parent I have fallen into the trap of buying unnecessary treats for my kids.
Even though I have given away or sold toys that my girls no longer play with, our playroom is still full to the brim with toys and books.
If anything, Casazza’s minimalistic approach with her family has inspired me to look at our existing collection of toys and work out a plan to consistently donate and give my girls a healthy awareness of appreciating their belongings.
I’m not sure I could minimalise down to a bin of toys, but the motivation of having less things to put away is a real draw card.