The Big Switch
8 years ago we were getting ready for our son's first Christmas, I remember being so excited to find things he would love to open on Christmas morning. Little did I know our son would be surrounded by gifts, a sea of presents far more fit for a family of 4 then 1.
I was proud of my bargain shopping, I had started shopping early and felt confident I got toys that were the best. After Christmas the following year, I did the great purge during the summer. I donated so many toys, threw away so many broken pieces. I sat there looking at all the money going down the drain. Then it was Christmas season again, rinse and repeat the cycle of buying/purging. We had our first daughter and then our second daughter, before we knew it we were run over with toys.
I was spending my days sorting, cleaning, organizing, all for nothing. My kids were overwhelmed, I was overwhelmed and it was time for a change. We bought our first home in Colorado, and I was determined to bring less stuff in. I purged so much and it felt so good, I was happy with what my kids had left toy wise. The following Christmas we decided to watch what we were getting the kids and make more meaningful gifts and memories instead, it was the best Christmas. Our children got more thought out toys, and more importantly toys that would last. When we did our big move to Texas this summer, we purged even more really getting rid of the final cling-on-plastic toys. Yes we still have barbies in our home, and legos. My son enjoys his hotwheel cars and a few action figures. It sounds scary to invest so much thought, effort, and money into making the switch. However the rewards are worth it 100x. Happy kids who are not stressed out over so many toys, brain development and milestones using open ended imagination play. Is the fun gone? no, in fact I would say there is even more fun to be had. I love playing with my kids now, instead of being stressed out looking around at all the toys and what I should be organizing. Does it take a bit of hard work and dedication? yes!
A few starting points when making the switch.
1) Explain to your family the why you are making the switch, talk to your kids about it. Ask them how they feel when everything is messy and cluttered.
2) Marie Kondo time. I tried the little by little method it didn't work. Dump all the toys in the middle of a room, really sort through them. Keep the meaningful ones, the ones with memories that your children love. However my best advice is to NOT let the children purge. They want everything and it's hard. I narrow down a good amount of toys, and then present that pile to them. I ask them to pick their top 5 favorite items they would like to keep. It's too much for them to go through all of those toys and try to purge. It will end in a melt down, either you or your child.
3) Get your kids excited about the possibilities of open ended play toys and wooden toys. Let them see the options online, head to our website and Instagram. Show them what it could look like, and let them be inspired. We have a wish list feature on our website, have them create their own wish lists for holidays that they would like. You aren't purely taking away their toys for the fun of it, you want to show them you are going to build an environment for so much fun play!
4) Change your mindset. This is no longer throwing every clearance toy at target in your basket. It's saying no to the impulse to get the good deal (no black Friday toy shopping!) It's choosing to put money where the quality is and something that will last through all of your kids, not just 1 kid for 6months.
"Children don't need more things, the best toy a child can have is apparent who gets down on the floor and plays with them" - Bruce Perry
I hope you feel inspired and motivated. All of us are in this together, and there is no perfect method, our hope is always for you to be able to relate and feel encouraged here!