with my daughter at her grandmother's house for a few days, my husband and i did the first sweep of simplifying. in doing a big sweep, it might work better to have the little one's away. we have tried to do a little at a time in the past but it just did not work for us.
it was a challenge to change a play area for an almost 6 year old to an area that could be shared with a 1 year old. the first step was to remove all the small items which could be a potential choking hazard. we left toys that were safe for a toddler to play with, like wooden blocks, smaller-sized playsilks, a few musical instruments, a basket of wool balls and a basket of wooden eggs downstairs in the play area. and on the top shelf of the playstand, we were able to keep a few of our daughter's toys downstairs.
we brought one of the playstand upstairs into our daughter's bedroom. all her natural collections were organized. smaller-sized ones were put in canning jars and others went into baskets. the open-ended toys stayed and the commercialized toys were eliminated. the simplicity parenting book offered a few tips of toys without staying power:
1. broken toys
2. developmentally inappropriate toys
3. character toys like my little ponies, care bears, barbies, littlest pet shop, etc
4. toys with too many functions and buttons
5. hi-tech / over stimulating toys
6. offensive / annoying toys
7. "developmental" toys like smart boards type gadgets and leapsters
8. toys you are pressured to buy
9. toys that inspire corrosive play
10. toy multiples
this is something that is years in the making for my family and we really are not there completely yet. we really did eliminate a lot of toys that we accumulate from well-meaning relatives. i think our family tries hard to purchase what they believe our daughter will like, but unfortunately, the toys just are not played with and the toys really hinder imaginative and creative play.
i have not purchased from mainstream toy stores in years. the last time, my husband and i walked around and around the store, desperate to find a gift for our daughter's birthday. we knew none of the toys in the toy store suited her, but felt we had to purchase something. we purchased a set of fairy dolls (which fell apart) and a set of bugs encased in marbles (weird, i know).
i will say that my husband and i sometimes are not on the same page with this as well beacuse this past christmas, my husband felt that he needed to buy her "other" toys. in his attempts, he went off to toys stores numerous times, only to come home empty handed and his head spinning. he searched the internet tirelessly and spent a lot of time picking out some gifts. despite his well meaning purchases, the toys were barely played with. we'll have to see if he feels the need to venture out to the toy stores again.
has your family been able to simplify? is everyone on the same page? does your extended family support your efforts? what do you say to your spouse or family regarding this?