On this episode of the Plan Simple Meals Podcast, I’m really excited to talk with Becca Lane, a Waldorf teacher and Simplicity parenting specialist about toys—how do we handle all the toys already in our house and the influx that seems inevitable to many people this time of year.
What happens when we simplify? “We find when children simplify or when parents simplify and children have this space that has been simplified, that parents say the children cooperate more both inside and outside of play time. They are able to keep their rooms tidier. It doesn’t become this once a month going in with a backhoe to clean everything out. It becomes a process that is manageable in your life keeping a room tidy.”
This happens for a couple of reasons. When our personal space is cluttered, our minds are too. Plus, even though we think choice is a good thing, too many choices leads to overwhelm. So what do we do about it? How do we get some things out of our house? And how, with the holidays, do we prevent the same number from just replacing those we got rid of? We dive into both questions.
We talk about:
- Not involving children 9 or younger in the simplifying process, but focusing on one space and simplifying yourself quickly all at once—and how much kids love seeing their cleared up space
- Boxing up toys for a while if you are afraid kids will miss things (they usually don’t) or creating a toy library that you rotate through
- Simplifying first, then organizing what is left—Getting to a point where your kids can tidy up within five minutes with adult help/modeling
- Tying back into your values when you think about the toys you buy and keep
- How to acknowledge the love and generosity of people who want to give your children gifts, even as you are asking them to give less stuff
- Ideas for cutting down on gifts from other people: setting numbers limits for grandparents, providing a list with internet links or catalogs with very specific ideas, giving experiences like ballet lessons or a zoo membership, non-toy gifts like tools to help children cut vegetables or work in the garden
- The importance of being able to receive as well as give, and the fact that material things aren’t bad, but we need to work on balance and intention
- Simplifying isn’t a thing you do and are done with.
Becca Lane is the director and lead teacher of the play-based preschool/kindergarten Little Round Schoolhouse. While she initially trained and taught as a public school teacher, she now holds certification from LifeWays North America (a Waldorf-based training) as well as several certifications from Simplicity Parenting. In addition to her time in the classroom, Becca also coaches parents and families in Simplicity Parenting and provides consulting for early childhood programs. She and her family live on the edge of the forest outside of Asheville, NC.
- Toys simplification formula
- Becca on Facebook
- Kim John Payne on Plan Simple Podcast
Doable Changes from this episode:
- SET YOUR VALUES. Tying decisions about toys to your values helps you make choices and send clear messages to other people who want to give things to your family. Think about personal and family values. This may mean cutting out or back on plastic toys or buying toys that will last. It may mean choosing tools or equipment for activities like cooking or gardening or outdoor exploration. Whatever it is, you can use your values as a filter as you make decisions about what you buy and you can share this information with family.
- CLEAR ONE SPACE. Choose one space to clear and make time to do it when your kids are not around. You could choose a book case or the art table or the play room floor. Choose a specific space, ago in and clear it up fast. Think about simplifying first. Throw out anything that is broken. Box up most of the stuff. Decide if it is a toy to put away to rotate later or if it is a toy you are ready to move out. Then organize what is left.
- DO A FIVE-MINUTE CLEAN UP. Five-minute clean ups are a goal to work toward for many people. To get there, you need less stuff and you need a place for the stuff you do have. But trying a five-minute clean up lets you see where you really need to simplify. It also allows you to model clean-up for your kids. This is a great doable change if you have streamlined some as a way to help keep clear, uncluttered space.