So please, dear family + friends, know that this message comes from a place of love: No. More. Toys.Our kids don't actually need much of any "thing"—they just need our presence, consistent love and guidance. But maybe your family has gotten here, too. Here's how it happened it ours— Growing up, my father regaled our family with tales of his humble childhood—he only had a ball and a stick to his name and walked uphill to school both ways and wore the same outfits several times a week. He ate ham sandwiches (every day!) for school lunch and spent his afternoons playing games in his friends' backyards. It was a simple childhood. But now, this loving grandfather started showing up to visits with armfuls of toys for our kids. He was a one-man Christmas morning, every time he visited. It sounds like a four-year-old's dream come true—but when it comes to kids and toys, there truly can be too much of a good thing.
It was all of the work of having toys, but not enough space for the fun.Most ironic of all? Our playroom was often unusable because—you guessed it!—the toys were E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E and all over the floor, all the time. (No room to play.) So when we packed up our home earlier this year to settle our family a few states away, we spent weeks doing what we knew we needed to do: We got rid of 75% of the toys we owned. We brought—honestly—probably 50+ bags/ boxes of "stuff" (toys included) to Goodwill. (We also got rid of 50% of our own personal possessions—clothes, books, cosmetics—and that felt awesome, too). It felt amazing to ditch years of junk that had been holding us back. It felt great to donate hardly-used toys to families that could use them. And it has been absolutely incredible to see the impact of living with radically less—on me, our home, and especially our kids. My four-year-old's reading skills have absolutely taken off.
Here's what my kids really need—
- New sneakers
- Swimming lessons
- An adult to look them in the eyes and talk about anything their little hearts desire (probably 'poop'-related jokes, if I'm honest—they're obsessed)
- A weekend at grandpa's
- Art supplies
- Someone to bring them to the library to return their borrowed books—and get new ones
- A trip to the playground
- A movie night
- Grocery store gift cards. (Real talk: these little kids eat more than I ever imagined possible.)
- Someone to build blanket forts
- Ice cream. (Seriously.) It might be messy and sugary but at our house—it doesn't last. Plus, ice cream leaves nothing but sticky fingers, brain freeze and innocent childhood memories—the best gift of all.