When people come to our house they often ask, where are all the toys? It has become common practice to see big toy boxes, or plastic bins filled with a conglomerate of collected bright and shiny plastic noise makers in most living rooms. Some families even have entire rooms designated strictly for toys and play. Constant gifts from well-intentioned loved ones, Santa, birthday presents bought because of societal expectation and pressure. And let me make it clear, there is nothing wrong with that! But for me, personally, it would be anxiety inducing to constantly have to deal with the mess, the creative chaos of clutter, and I’d get irritated from the noise. (Cue the Grinch— “oh the noise noise noise NOISE!!”)
And let me clarify and tell you that we have a big collection of Lego, nerf guns, and hot wheels. So, yes, my boys do have toys. However, they rarely play with them— usually only when friends come over. But my boys are only 7 and 10, and as homeschooling only takes about two hours of their day, unstructured, free play fills the majority of their day. They actively search out natural things that they can customize and curate into something to play with.
Creating their own toys out of a stick, or a rock; inventing their own games with a rope and a tree; concocting potions from weeds and dirt; devising plans and games… these are just a few examples of how my children play for hours outside every single day. Now, my boys aren’t unicorns. Most children, when given the gift of time in nature are the same. Just take your child for a walk in the forest and try not to come home with a stick that they simply must bring home. Or go to the beach and try not to bring home a collection of shells. Children naturally, want to connect and get up close and personal with nature…. In fact, children are nature itself. They are one and the same. So, if you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of toys your kids have, and/or the mess those toys create, try hiding them away for a few weeks. See what life is like with less. I can all but guarantee you’ll really find out that life with less is really more… more creativity, more ingenuity, more space, more peace.