Simplify for Baby
Sometimes it feels like having a child requires way too much stuff. And it is everywhere. Even the places you swore you would keep "toy free." I got to thinking about how many toys a child really needs.
Clearly we spoil our kids with every shiny new object that we think will occupy them happily for hours (lets face it, minutes). I really have been trying to reel it in, even at Christmas. I got him just two new toys. Mostly knowing that the grandparents would be coming with quite the lot.
I came across a great article on Cup of Jo that had some great advice. The excerpts are from Simplicity Parenting, a book that sounds fantastic, that I will never get around to actually reading. It basically explains how less in your child's life actually will make them more aware, inquisitive, and calm.
From Cup of Jo:
* The number of toys your child has should be dramatically reduced. Dr. Payne encourages parents to put all their kid's toys--bath toys, blocks, cars, balls, everything--into one big pile. That pile should be halved, and halved again, and maybe even again. Why? "An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm," Dr. Payne writes. (That makes sense, even as an adult, don't you think? Imagine how much calmer you feel sitting at your desk when it's clean, versus covered with notes and papers; or how soothing your bedroom feels when everything's put away.) Parents sometimes fear that their kids will be bored without as many toys, but the outcome is typically the reverse: Kids become moreengaged once their toys are reduced. "As you decrease clutter, you increase a child's attention and capacity for deep play," writes Dr. Payne. And it can be surprising to realize how many toys you've accumulated (especially if you have lots of relatives:)
* Organize the room so your child can only see a few toys at a time. (Keep other toys stored in baskets or bins under the bed or in a closet.) With Toby, I've been putting a blanket over his toys, so he can focus on playing with one thing at a time. His room looks simple and inviting with just a few favorite toys. So much calmer than it used to, when it was covered in Legos and books and Elmo paraphernalia!
* Reduce the number of books in the room. Have just a few favorite books accessible at any given time. "Kids need the time to read deeply, and often repeatedly," says Dr. Payne. Then you can rotate out the books once they've thoroughly enjoyed the first batch.
* Keep just one of each type of toy. Toby LOVES cars, and I realized that he has a toy taxi, a school bus, six race cars, two police cars and a digger. But, the book points out, just because one car brings him joy, it doesn't mean that eleven cars will bring him eleven times the amount of joy. Instead, too many cars might seem overwhelming and devalued. Same with a stuffed animals, balls, etc.. Dr. Payne recommends just keeping the favorite one (or two) of each type of toy. The rest can be stored in a "toy library" in a closet for later, or given away or donated. That makes a lot of sense--I kind of slapped my forehead when I read that--and then put away ten cars:)
This plan sounds perfect, except for those moments when you literally go through every toy in the house to capture your child's attention when you try to make dinner/blow dry your hair/fold laundry/sit down for ten minutes. The funny thing is that it is every day objects, not toys that work best. Winter makes it tough too when you are contained mostly to the indoors.
For the next week or so I am going to try a few of these ideas. Just a couple toys at a time, a rotation of just a few books, etc.
What do you think of the article?