There were a lot of unexpected things that came along with having our first child. But the one that surprised me most was the overwhelming amount of toys that seemed to magically appear in our home.
From the toys that I bought to the presents from grandparents, family, family friends, neighbors, to the kind grandma at the playground who told my baby she could keep the ball she was playing with (even though we already had five at home), I honestly cannot remember where all of these toys came from.
By the time my daughter was 8 months old she had so many toys that we had filled two huge chests with them. Plus the activity gym, bouncy seat, swing and walker that were sitting in our living room. Oh, and don't forget the bag of bath toys hanging to dry in our bathroom tub.
The problem was that even with all of these toys, she didn't seem to be actually playing with anything!
Cleanup time was not only frustrating for her but became frustrating for me too. I wanted to instill in her the habit of cleaning up her toys, but halfway through our cleanup, she would throw herself on the floor and scream, "No cleanup! NO!"
And guess who would end up cleaning all of those toys at night?
(Spoiler alert: me.)
When my daughter was about 18 months old, my husband and I got a job opportunity that would move us out of state, and that's when we decided we were not taking any toys with us.
When we settled into our new place I got our daughter a couple of stuffed animals, some puzzles, some books, art supplies, a box of toddler LEGOs and a tent.
And suddenly, like a miracle, we noticed our daughter started playing with her toys. She would play in her tent, throw her stuffies, and we would read those books until we learned every single word on every page.
And with minimal toys, clean-up time became notably easy. She would put her stuffies back in a cart, her books and legos back all by herself in just minutes.
With this change, our home also felt peaceful. The toys were put away every night in her room, and my husband and I would watch a movie and spend some time in our adult apartment once again.
During this time I had my second baby and we moved back to our home state. It was then that I decided I would again create a room for them with a minimal amount of toys. We have continued with this lifestyle for the past two years. And we've loved it so much we have implemented it in every other area of our lives. From the number of sippy cups and bottles we have, to our clothes.
Simplifying our lives with the number of things we own has definitely cut down the amount of time we spend cleaning and organizing, which is a gift in and of itself. But it has also given us more intentional, focused time to spend together as a family, and for our children to truly play and interact with what they have.
In this journey, I've learned that my kids are more interested in spending time with my husband and me than any toy they could ever own. And that's something that fuels my motherhood every single day.