Thank you to my friend and colleague who recommended this wonderful book to me. Simplicity Parenting is about just that, simplicity. Our society has become too rushed, too complicated, too stimulating and our children are feeling it. Kim John Payne provides a step by step approach on simplifying almost every aspect of a family's life, from toys to clothes to meals to extracurricular activities.
I am currently reading his chapter on simplifying the child's home environment. The author states. "As you decrease the quantity of your child's toys and clutter, you increase their attention and their capacity to play."
Now I have always prided myself on not owning too many toys. We only have a few toys from the major kid toy categories, but we are nothing like the families Payne writes about...or so I thought. As I read on and started to really think about my girls' play habits, a few troubling observations came to mind:
They rarely are engrossed with their toys.
They spend way too much time fighting over or about toys.
They often walk into their toy room and come out empty handed with no clue what they want to play with.
Could it be that even our "small" toy collection is too overwhelming and contributing to their negative play behaviors?
I figured, I would give Payne a try and did as he suggested: pile up all your toys in the living room and just gawk at your toy accumulation.
So here is our toy collection (plus a suitcase full of books) which I still think is not "that bad".
But I figured, I'd continue with this process and wean out the toys Payne calls "Toys Without Staying Power":
- Broken Toys
- Developmentally Inappropriate Toys
- Conceptually “Fixed” Toys
- Toys that “Do Too Much” and Break Too Easily
- Very High Stimulation Toys
- Annoying or Offensive Toys
- Toys that Claim to Give Your Child a Developmental Edge
- Toys You Are Pressured to Buy
- Toys that Inspire Corrosive Play
- Toy Multiples
So let's have a look at the before and after of our play room:
So the differences are pretty huge: less clutter, less choices, easy accessibility, and clear labeling.
My post-op observations:
1. They ACTUALLY played and played imaginatively and attentively
2. Having toys in cubbies without a bin was great for my 2 year old. She just pulled her toys out and really played with them. No help needed from me.
3. The girls spilled out tokens from a board game and poured them back in for like 10 minutes while singing the word "teamwork"--I kid you not!
4. Choosing books for "library time" was quick and easy due to the lack of clutter and easy visibility of books.
5. Clean up was a breeze for the kids to do themselves, because there wasn't as much to clean and they knew exactly where everything went.
I'm a believer: simplicity might just be the answer.
Stay tuned for other ways we will be simplifying our existence.