| be intentional |
We like to keep toys at a minimum over here. Less stuff = less mess = less stress for me. When we buy toys we pick natural materials over plastic and handmade over mass produced (of course there are exceptions to this, but we try!). My preference is open ended toys that are educational and well made, specifically Waldorf and Montessori style. Our criteria for toys may seem high maintenance, but I think it plays a big factor in maintaining a sense of peace in our home. I'm someone who doesn't do well in an unorganized space filled with distractions. Our kids are already over stimulated. Heck, I'm over stimulated. I want to maintain a calm environment as much as I can and picking simple toys is one small way that helps our household do just that.
All this being said, I don't ever want to seem ungrateful for gifts for our children...we are blessed with generous family and friends who love Pier as much as I do! But we're intentional about what we buy for a reason. Kids don't need a lot of stuff. I don't want our materialistic culture to infiltrate what is meant to be a season of innocence, wonder, and discovery. I've seen how Pier can be perfectly content with a stick for minutes on end. Or how he plays with the scraps of my vegetables while I'm cooking. I say this simply to reinforce what I think we intrinsically know -- children teach us to slow down and see the world through pure eyes.
| toy rotation |
You've probably heard of this already and it's GENIUS. We do this primarily with books, but I think it's a good idea if you find yourself having a hard time narrowing down your toys to keep. Buy a big basket to keep in your hall closet to store excess toys in and then rotate them out as often as you like.
| spring clean twice a year |
We do a seasonal spring cleaning a couple times a year and go through our entire house to see what needs to be organized more efficiently to better serve our family. Kid stuff is a huge thing to tackle at first, but now that I do a seasonal clean out it's way more doable.
| everything has a place |
Not only does it teach kids organizational skills, but it also helps save a mother's sanity. As a parent, it's my job to teach my children how to take care of their home and the possessions that fill it. If everything has a place then it makes things a breeze to clean up! As soon as Pier was old enough I taught him how to put his toys away. Basically when things got messy I took him (literally) by the hand and physically showed him where things go.
After a few days he got it and it has made my life much, much easier. He knows now that his books go in his book basket, his blocks in his block baskets, and his pots and pans in his play kitchen. I'm not sure if this will work with all my children or if it's just how Pier's brain is wired, but he's done a really good job putting away his toys before taking out new ones. And cleaning is a game to him, which is a good thing for all parties involved.