Ever since I wrote the post a few months back about living a simple, intentional life I’ve wanted to share more about how we’ve been working on that in our house. I was so encouraged by all the comments and emails I received from readers and friends (thank you!) striving for the same things in their own lives. It really seems like it’s a common goal for so many of us. Over the past 2 months I’ve majorly purged our house. There seriously has not been a drawer or closet untouched. We have a huge pile of things for a garage sale and have taken countless trips to the goodwill. Man I loved knick knacks a little too much. Anyways, I wanted to start a series on here talking about the different areas that I went through and purged/changed/reorganized to reach our idea of a simple, intentional life.
Today we will talk about toys, but over the next few weeks I would love to talk about the changes I made to our closets, our food choices, our calendar/time, and decorating. Hope you will join along and share your own tips in each of these categories.
Boy, Oh boy! I can’t escape a trip to target without having to bring Rowan up and down each of the toy aisles. She always asks me when we walk in, “Momma, can we just go check on the toys and make sure they are all still working?” Nice try kid. The reason I picked toys as something we needed to change was because I felt like they were taking over. I don’t say any of this as a way of passing judgement on anyone. This is just how I felt for our house. I don’t like getting caught up in the idea that kids need lots of toys. They don’t. At all. In fact, I believe that too many toys hinder how kids play. I also don’t want Rowan and Finley to think they need toys to have fun either. I’ve never been a big fan of the big ol’ plastic, loud noise making, breaking every 2 seconds, million of parts, fill your house with clutter kind of toys. I stood pretty firmly when Rowan was a baby but over time they just accumulated. You can’t help it. Birthdays, christmas, etc… Every time you turn around it’s another holiday that presents are being given. I am always grateful, but there comes a time when enough is enough in my opinion. I looked around our house at the beginning of the summer and thought we have waaaaay too many toys and the kids play with literally 20% of them. That’s when I went to town on the toy room, their bedrooms, our toy dresser and donated about 75% of everything.
Kev and I sat down and came up with a new game plan when it comes to toys in our house. We talked with each of our parents and asked that for Christmas and birthdays they really try to limit what they give the girls. We suggested that what we would really love is if they gave a gift of an “experience” instead. Bring Rowan to the science museum, Disney on Ice, or the ballet for example. Something that would create a wonderful special day for the grandparents and the girls to share together. Rowan will talk about something like that for months and months, when a toy would interest her for like a week maybe. Some of you may think that is harsh or no fun but I really just didn’t like our parents wasting money either.
As far as the toys I did keep, I narrowed down the toys to 5 different categories. If it didn’t fall into one of them, wasn’t well made, or well loved by the girls, or a toy that I felt enriched their play it was donated. Our toy categories are…
1. Dress Up/Imagination play:
I kept all our dress up clothes (Melissa and Doug have the cutest outfits) and I created a little dress up chest with all the accessories. We have the Melissa and Doug Puppet theatre that the girls love as well. They use all their stuffed animals as “puppets” and love to put on little shows. We have a cute B. Doctor set the girls love. We also have a great kitchen set with lots of Melissa and Doug food pieces. Rowan’s favorite is her Kid Kraft dollhouse, I feel like that is the one toy we’ve bought her that she still uses almost daily. I keep a little basket next to it that houses all the dolls, figurines and furniture. She doesn’t use any one set of dolls for the house. I’ve seen a big ol’ party up in there with Barbies, My Little Ponies, Princess Sophie and Minnie Mouse.
2. Art and Craft Supplies:
In my opinion you can never have enough art supplies. We have loads of markers, paper, coloring books, scissors, glue, glitter (ugh), goggly eyes, pipe cleaners, ribbon. etc… Don’t get scared if you are not a crafty person. If you have the supplies out for your little one to create- they will create! They are so creative without even trying. Sometimes I like to have a set craft in mind for the girls but most times I just let them go at it. Love seeing what Rowan will come up with. If you do feel like you need a lithe help in this area, we love the Alex Toys Craft boxes you can get. It’s a great place to start!
3. Puzzles/ Building
Rowan loves puzzles. We especially extra large floor puzzles, but man she is good at even teeny tiny piece puzzles. She works so hard at them, it’s pretty darn cute. We also love legos. I just bought her first set of real legos. We’ve moved on from duplos and we had the best time this morning building silly animals with them. We also love these bristle blocks and then my absolute favorite are the Haba blocks. Rowan has this Janod circus set and it’s about the cutest thing I have ever seen. We also love this Janod alphabet puzzle.
4. Musical Instruments
Any real musical instrument is ok in my book. I not a huge fan of the fake kid ones out there, I don’t mean a miniature version of the real one, I mean the ones were you press a button on a “guitar” and it plays music sort of thing. That’s not really teaching anything about music. One musical toy we do absolutely LOVE is this Symphony B. Music Toy. I find myself sitting and playing with it well after the girls are done. It’s so fun.
Books! Books! Books! I will never say no to books. I always want our house to be full of books to read and look at. I want them out and accessible to the girls and not just tucked up in their rooms either. We have 2 separate areas for their books downstairs on our main floor. I always want them around as an option for something to do.
We organized all the toys and created a few little areas of play around our house. Our basement has most of the imagination play items. We do a lot of our art projects over at my craft table. We have Rowan’s Dollhouse set up in our living room. In the family room we have a little chalk drawing area as well as all the puzzles and blocks stored in the drawers of the dresser. Our goal was to have things accessible but to not take over the house. I wanted it all scaled back and for everything to have a home. And you know what? Removing more than half the toys actually has made the girls play with the toys more. They can find things, aren’t overwhelmed, know how to clean up better, and are more creative with less.
How to you handle toys in your house?
Here are some photos of our play areas. Nothing fancy or styled for pinterst just real life how we organize our kids toys.
p.s. I didn’t mention any super specific toys for Finley because she honestly doesn’t want to play with anything other than what Rowan is playing with. She loves all the toys mentioned above just as much as Rowan.