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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.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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