Recently I was asked by a friend how to help kids deal with getting rid of toys when they have too many. While preparing to write a blog post about it, the thought came to mind to ask my 9 year old son Blake for his answers since he’s experienced it a few times. I wanted to hear his thoughts on the process. I began asking him questions and suddenly I had a wonderful interview on my hands that is better than any blog post I could’ve written on my own. Here are his exact words …
Q: What’s minimalism?
Blake: I don’t know. Do you even know what minimalism is?
(He already has me laughing out loud…)
Q: Blake, what would you tell a child you want to encourage to own fewer toys?
Blake: You’ll feel like there’s more space and might feel more safe without stuff all over the floor. If you have too much toys, sometimes it feels like a trap and you can’t move around. It’s like pressure. I would tell him to choose his favorite ones he will use and will help him pass the time; don’t keep toys that sit around and don’t get used. Here’s an example: if you were one of the toys in a crowded room, how would you feel? They don’t get played with.
Q: What do you do when you have too many toys? How do you make sense of all the mess?
Blake: We donate and we throw away bad quality toys that keep breaking. Toys from the dollar store don’t last and you can’t play with them very long. You can’t enjoy them when they’re all over the room and you’ll miss seeing all the hidden ones to play with anyway.
(Tip from Dana: Have two buckets of toys to rotate. Keep one bucket in the bedroom or play room, the other in the garage. Switch them out bi-weekly so the toys are “new” to the kids but not all filling up your home at once.)
Q: When you started wanting to keep all your toys instead of giving some away, what helped you agree with Daddy and me that you needed less?
Blake: It might feel bad to give toys away or throw them out, but sometimes you have to take charge. When I felt my room was crowded and I couldn’t walk around in it or fit any more toys in my toy box, it wasn’t fun. I didn’t like being in my room then. Now I have more space and I feel better. It’s easier to clean my room now.
Q: How did you decide which toys to donate?
Blake: The ones that weren’t containable. I dumped out my toy box and put my favorite toys back in. When I ran out of room, the rest of them were donated or recycled and we threw some away. Now you will feel better and it will be easier to make decisions when you’re older. Also, you could be a great speaker or something from how you experienced this stuff you are going to go through when you do this getting rid of some toys.
(Tip from Dana: Observe which activities you child gravitates toward most – arts & crafts, building sets, sports, etc. Have the objects or toys related to their favorite activities be the majority of the toys they keep.)
Q: Now that you have fewer toys, how do you keep things tidy?
Blake: Well, I have space now to put it all away and I set them in the place it’s easy to remember where it belongs when I want to find it. Every night when I’m done playing outside, I put all my toys back in the sports bucket in the garage.
Q: Anything else you want to say?
Blake: When you do this you’ll have space to play other fun games that might involve toys or maybe they don’t, like playing tag or a board game or making origami. But the point of this is that you’ll feel better and life will be easier.
My heart melts that Blake defined minimalism beautifully with his last statement even though we don’t really use the word much at home. Proof that much more is caught than taught.