When I have a few minutes to spare, I like to go into my 3-year-old’s room (preferably when he’s not home) and pare things down. Why?
1) Children play better in an environment that is calm & orderly, and spacious enough to spread out and play. (Both FlyLady and John Rosemond recommend this approach, and I couldn’t agree with it more.)
2) It is easier to keep his room tidy when there are fewer things to deal with. Therefore, I can hold him responsible, to a greater degree, for tidying up his room.
Last week I pared down his collection of markers and crayons from 40 to perhaps 20. This is a sanity saver for me because he sometimes likes to take out all of his art supplies and play make-believe with them, putting them in boxes, bags, and so on. I don’t want to discourage this make-believe play, of course, but it is good for my mental health when there aren’t as many markers involved.
Like many parents, I also rotate toys in and out of storage. I do expect him to entertain himself most of the time, and I can handle the occasional guilt about this if he can enjoy something “new” now and then. However, I do try to make sure I don’t put him in a mindset where he thinks he can entertain himeself only if there is something new to play with.
As adults, sometimes it’s easy to think that more is better when it comes to toys for our kids. It can be difficult to fight this mindset, but I think it’s worth it. Kids don’t need lots of things; they do need the opportunity to play safely, to explore, and, when they are old enough, and to play creatively and imaginatively.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding kids, toys, and decluttering!