What you see in the picture above is one of three identical shelving units we have in our home – all stuffed to the max with toys. There is nothing “minimal” about the toy situation around here, but I realize that these toys belong to my kids and I can’t just go throwing them out all willy-nilly. It has to be the children’s choice.
So, last night, I opened a Rubbermaid container and asked my kids to choose the things that they no longer want and would like to give away and to put them in the bin.
I fully expected my kids to rebel against this idea or maybe put two toys in the container and adamantly insist that they simply must keep everything else.
Boy, was I wrong.
They filled the entire thing.
[If anyone sees something they gave to my kids, please don’t be offended, it has all been well-loved. And trust me, most of what is in this bin is from Brett and I.]
Still, I was doubtful that they really understood what was happening to the toys in the bin, so I left it in the living room overnight and this morning we went through everything again.
They changed their minds about a few things [Eva decided to keep her Moana dolls and Theo wanted to keep the plastic blocks] but everything else was still a firm “give it away.”
It’s not like they don’t have plenty of toys left to go around.
This entire basket is filled with little people and cars and animals – which I didn’t count, but is so obviously excessive – and yet my kids love imaginative play with these characters, so we will keep them all…for now.
And my living room shelving unit looks much better.
It obviously won’t stay this tidy, but they reduced the amount of toys in this unit by 253! That definitely makes a difference! Everything fits in the baskets and cubbies without being crammed and squeezed. And now they can look through a bin for what they want without dumping its contents all over the floor [which they will probably still do anyway, I realize].
After the group of toys were finalized, I sorted them into recycle, donate, and trash piles. I threw out trash and put the recycle pile in the recycling bin, but I am keeping the donate items for a little while just in case someone gets “givers remorse” in a few days. But I bet that none of these things will be missed now that they are out of sight.
Throughout last month, our kids watched us give away tons of things – often wanting to participate. I explained at that time why we were getting rid of the items [we don’t need them or use them] and what we were doing with them [giving them to other people who may need them or use them]. I think this prepared them for giving away their own belongings.
As always, the best way to teach your children a behavior is to model it, and by modeling minimalism, we are creating some mini-minimalists!