For some reason, my kids’ room is where I started with my minimalism journey. Nothing overwhelms me more than toy explosions all over the home. For those of you who were (or currently are) obsessed with Marie Kondo’s addictive Netflix original, wouldn’t say hoards of toys “sparks joy” for anyone.
Not even the kids.
What I’ve learned thus far is that, like adults, children can be overwhelmed by an abundance of “things.” It’s always amazing to me how my kids can tell me they’re bored while surrounded by a house full of toys. It’s because toys get played with and forgotten and left to collect dust under newer, shinier toys; rinse and repeat. There’s no organization to the chaos. No one can find anything because nothing has a place, and thus nothing can truly be put away because where does it even go? Not so long ago, “cleaning up” to my kids meant picking up their toys and tossing them into the play room. And then the door would close, and that would be that.
Every few months, I would find myself combing through the chaos and making donation runs with things no one ever missed.
Or so I thought.
Because always, within a week, my four-year-old would begin a desperate search for an obscure toy no one had even mentioned in months. And guess what? That toy was now gone. Because of me. Because it didn’t have a home, couldn’t be found, and was then deemed, by me, as ready to be re-homed when it hadn’t touched my kids’ hands in a thousand years.
But why hadn’t they touched these long-forgotten toys?
Because out of sight, out of mind.
We are programmed consumers. We are surrounded by advertising that tells us we need new things. Our old things are useless, are lives are empty without the best on the market. And guess what? Our kids are not shielded from this. At least, mine aren’t.
Yep, my kids watch YouTube (and I’m still an awesome mom). They watch other kids play games and unbox toys. And they freakin’ love Ryan’s Toy Review.
If you haven’t seen Ryan’s Toy Review, first congratulate yourself and know that your life has more meaning for being oblivious to this particular YouTube channel (and, now, Nickelodeon show). The gist of Ryan’s Toy Review is that this kid, Ryan, whom every child finds to be relatable AF, plays ENDLESSLY with EVERY TOY EVER CREATED.
The family that started this channel are absolutely geniuses and are now straight up millionaires, I have to give them that. But back to my point. Ryan’s Toy Review, well, reviews toys. But not in a bland, unboxing kind of way. We get to sit back and enjoy Ryan and his parents thoroughly enjoying his toys. It’s a marketing goldmine. It’s the reason why I found myself at Walmart last Black Friday hunting down a giant Golden Egg filled with absolute crap that my kids obsessed over for weeks thanks to that show. It’s the reason we own Hungry Hungry Hippos. It’s the reason there’s shit-colored slime glued to my son’s bedroom carpet.
Look, none of us are immune to advertisements, and as they become more and more subtle the easier it is to remain oblivious to how our lives are shaped around them.
The best we can do is stay hyper-aware of what we need and what we don’t need. And kids do not need hoards of toys to be happy.
So now, my kids have a small stockpile of their very favorite toys, in bins organized in a way that even the youngest family members can fully understand. But the best part about it, is that they can now clean up too. Which means less cleaning for me. And as I write this I’m realizing that’s probably why this whole journey started with the kids’ toys to begin with: out of my own desire to not clean up everyone’s crap all the time.