Simplicity Parenting Part 1:
Half of Half and taking on TOYS
Since the beginning of the year, I've been looking for new and more permanent ways to downsize. I've always felt like a minimalist. But since having my two babes, I could feel myself moving away from wanting, needing, and living with less. I felt myself getting swept up in the tornado and onslaught of "stuff" that marketers and even other respectable parents recommend.
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I've also been feeling a call to change course in our homeschooling. We we're practicing Practical Living Montessori basically from birth and then Before Five in a Row for the past two years.I honestly felt quite overwhelmed by even limiting my scope to just the two. Our "school room" was overflowing, we we're drowning in learning and teaching tools, games, toys, printables.
I have and want only two kids. I have an easy-paced lifestyle. I have a very supportive and encouraging husband. But I was missing something. I was spinning my wheels. It was all unnecessary.
The first take-away from the book:
Half of Half.
That's really all we need. And sometimes even that is too much. This applies to any and everything, including even the words we choose!
I started with TOYS. I love toys. My husband loves them even more than I do. My kids, of course, love toys. They'll play with, explore, and discover them all. They even watch them on Kids YouTube (don't get me started on the iPad situation around here. It's next on my hit list of minimizing). It's ridiculous.
Where to start? We had toys in each kids' closet, in the school room, in the garage, on the patio, in the living room, in the bathroom, the dining room, even the Master bedroom. No room was safe. So, I started in Baby's room. It's by far the least trafficked room in our house. The author recommends getting ALL your kid's toys together, in one monstrous pile. Then take away half. Then, of the pile that is left, cut IT in half again. That's where you start. That's what can have a chance at staying.
I know what you're thinking: there is A LOT of money wrapped up in those toys. MY money. It's almost like the toys are a representation of all your hard work.
Butjust like food, your kid can't get fat and lazy unless YOU buy the crappy food and allow them to be lethargic (role modeling is also a pretty big factor on both accounts as well). Your kid didn't buy himself all those toys. YOU did.
I'll admit that the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't my kids that we're going to take issue with toys disappearing. It was going to be ME. Me? LAME. Once I got past that it was more about my reservations, and my actual fear of moving the excess out, the ball rolled. And it rolled quickly! It rolled FIVE truck-loads all the way to the Thrift Shop and Goodwill. FIVE. In my Escape. I'm talking front seat and way-back. It was unbelievable.
We sold off a small portion in the worst yard-sale ever. And a few cherry-picked items we're passed on to good friends. Not all of it was toys, though. That was only the starting point. Once I got my feet wet with those, I moved on to everything else. I went room-by-room. Closet-by-closet. Drawer-by-drawer. I was methodical. I sized-up ev.er.y.thing. One thing at a time. Tools, pens, kitchen appliances, clothes, shoes, crafty crap, outdoor items, the garage. Every corner that was not safe previously to getting a toy tucked here and there, was met with the scrutiny of "stay or go."
Once the bulk of "stuff" was out. I was really able to see with what we had left to work. This was my "half pile." Then I went room-by-room AGAIN, amazed at what all was still in the way and still here . We have only been in this house a year. We purged like mad before we PCS'd. How in the world we're we swimming in STUFF???
So then I got mad at it. It was like in a workout, when you're half-way in and just give in to the fact that it's going to suck: you embrace it. And then you beat the heck outwhat's left. In the end: VICTORY. Sweet victory. The sweat and the work: always worth it.
You'd think our house would be barren. You'd think my kids would be bored. But a funny thing happened.
They started playing. Not only playing, but together. And WELL. And constantly. I'm still a bit befuddled. But I'll take it. It certainly beats the alternative and what was going on before. Which was a bunch of toys and no one playing with them. Sometimes there was a fight over this toy or that. No more. It was like magic.
It was like Costco I refer to Costco as being like my mom. She went in and did the work to find all the premier things for me so I didn't have to think, and then let me choose the best of the best.
I removed all the excess, and then they we're ABLE to SEE the best of the best. From that, they get to chose what to do and play. It's really great. Life got easier because of it. I'm not playing referee NEARLY as much.
This author is a Waldorf follower, a form of schooling that lead me to the book, actually. So, I've also been reading some other Waldorf teaching books in conjunction. The same ideas are present in my other readings. But they also add that you should have natural toys and materials for your children. I'll admit it, I'm kind of a hippie. I LOVE my kids to play in muddy puddles. I LOVE that every time we step outside my 3 year old daughter finds a rock or stick with whichshe just can't bare to part. I LOVE being at home with them and seeing that wonder in their eyes as they are discovering, experiencing, and learning.
So, in addition to basically kicking out the majority of our licensed toys (think Disney, fisher price, nickelodeon) I made her natural choices front and center. Her little nature area used to be tucked into a built-in bookshelf in the back of the living room. Then it move over to a corner. Now, it's right there in the middle of our living room. Pine cones. stones. Miniature wooden peg people. Flowers. Long sticks, small sticks. glass beads, sea shells. Right there. It's pretty cute. And she's so proud of her finds. She's so happy to see her blooming flowers. I have a couple little mirrors at the table, too. There's something about the reflection of the elements
Some other Waldorf biggiesare blank figures, clothes of various sizes, shapes and material, construction toys (blocks and such), and generic items that can be used for various sorts of things. For example, our sea shells have been many different things, from dinosaur treats, to swimming pools, to doggie bowls. Our pine cones have been trees for miniature camping puppies, as well as pine cones.
Another thing that we've shifted more towards are fairy tales, a Waldorf staple for young learners. It was Einstein that said "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." It's amazing how these stories work memory, storytelling, literary, and even math & estimation skills. They offer familiarity andcomfort right into the dream world at night. Last night I told Baby "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" twice, at her request. Then she told it to me. A few little songs followed and she was eased into sleep, easily.
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Posted in Food Post Date 03/08/2017