What do your kids play with?
This is a topic that I get a lot of questions about. While I wouldn’t consider ourselves minimalists, tiny living or living in a small space certainly makes you have to prioritize your possessions.
If you don’t know our story, in June 2019 my husband and I sold our 6 bedroom home in suburban central Iowa and are traveling the US in a 41 foot fifth wheel with our three children.
I presented this idea to my husband about 1.5 years prior to us setting out to travel. Immediately I knew going from 5,000+ square feet to less than 300 square feet it would require a lot of downsizing and decluttering.
The day we agreed to set out on this adventure I started decluttering. You can read my previous downsizing blog post here.
Toys were one of the first things that I addressed, and let me tell you the change in how our kids played and my stress level with the amount of stuff improved instantly.
I started by taking out every single toy we had and put it in the living room one Friday. It was like Christmas morning! So many toys that they didn’t even remember existed! I started by encouraging them to put the toys together as if they were new. If the toys did not have all of their parts, were damaged or didn’t function, they were donated or thrown away.
While it was hectic for the weekend with ALL the toys out, I was able to observe the things that were being played with. Some simply didn’t get played with...and I would at the end of the evening just tuck away in a box for donation. They never knew the toys were gone...🤷🏼♀️
Because we were transitioning to a small space AND starting to homeschool some of the things I thought about what to keep and throw were...
Multifunctional: The toys had to be able to be played with inside or outside, or played with inside and have a use with homeschool.
Space and weight: Not only were were going to be in a small space, we also had to think about weight.
Our kiddos are close in age, at 8,6,4 years when we set out on this adventure. We didn’t have any big baby toys or accessories.
So what do our kids play with?!
- Plastic figurines & doll house accessories: action figures, Fisher Price people, dream house accessories, etc. These can be played with inside, outside in the water, sand, water beads, dirt, wherever. They are small, lightweight, and they can use their imagination.
- Paper/crayons/art supplies: These items are lightweight, can be used for homeschool, independent play, quiet time, and uses they can be creative!
- Outdoor toys: Basketball, soccer ball, bat, helmets, football, flag football belts, whiffle balls, bikes and rollerblades. We have a sports ball bag and if we accumulate more than can fit in the bag, time to assess!
- STEM items: Magnets, yarn (I have enough of that), tape, popsicle sticks, tin foil...a lot of things we have around the house
- Books: This is one that is ever changing. We are always going through our books, somethings that we do to continually rotate books are exchange with friends from home or that we meet on the road. Send them a collection of books and vice versa. For homeschool, especially now that we haven’t gone to public libraries with the pandemic, we use “epic!” on the computer. I am able to search for books at each child’s level and on various topics.
- Babies/barbies/accessories: she’s my only girl 🤣
- Legos: our kids are obsessed with legos, we have a bag that cinches up that’s easy to carry and then is a big round circle to play on. We also use legos for homeschool. And if you don’t know, all of the LEGO instruction manuals are online in pdf. So we threw away all our paper instructions and if they want to rebuild something we search for the set.
We have a toy bin that holds all the toys. That is where they go, when we were decluttering/downsizing I knew there were toys that the kids would outgrow by the time we got on the road so each child had a bin and that was for their toys. We eventually got down to one bin.
It’s an ever changing process, we focus on “one in, one out” concept. The imagination in the kids has grown tremendously.
From when we started decluttering in our home, the kids were more focused when they played, I could see them using their imaginations more, they didn’t fight over toys as much and the toys had a spot to go when they were done playing. This has also driven them to better independent play time. Let’s face it, we are around each other a lot and we all need our own time. So we make sure that we provide opportunity for them to each play independently and this allows them comfort in their own creativity and imagination.