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Toys taking over? 4 simple ways to declutter your child’s playroom

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As a certified KonMari consultant, I help my clients simplify their homes and their lives. Together, we implement the method pioneered by Marie Kondo, Japanese de-cluttering guru and author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The method is simple: Choose to surround yourself only with those items that spark joy, and say goodbye to the rest. This is life-changing indeed.


Before I did the KonMari method in my own home, I felt overwhelmed and frazzled. My home felt like a never-ending list of to-dos, and half the time, I just felt like I was moving things from one side of the room to the other. In fact, the UCLA Center on the Everyday Lives of Families did a study that showed that there is likely a direct correlation between women’s stress level and the amount of clutter in their home. So, our stuff can actually make us feel sick.

Our children feel it too. Their small brains are trying to grow and learn, but when their environments are overwhelmed with too much clutter, they can go into overload, which can affect behavior, concentration and mood.

Luckily, my KonMari journey led me to the wisdom of Simplicity Parenting. Written by Kim John Payne, this book further solidifies all of the reasons why having a de-cluttered space is so important for the WHOLE family.

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As Payne puts it, “Children need time to become themselves--through play and social interaction. If you overwhelm a child with stuff, they will only know one emotional gesture: More!”

I learned Two Big Lessons after exploring Simplicity Parenting:

1. It’s important to do a MASSIVE de-clutter of children’s rooms and any space in which they play.

Payne asks us to get pretty drastic here, saying that most toy collections can be cut down by two-thirds or more: “Imagine the sensory overload that can happen for a child when every surface, every drawer and closet is filled with stuff? So many choices and so much stimuli rob them of time and attention. Too much stuff deprives kids of leisure, and the ability to explore their worlds deeply.”

2. Choose toys that are not “fixed” and can provide endless ways to play.

For example, a plastic toy with a buzzer does only one thing. It doesn’t challenge a child to invent and create, and it’s likely to end up at the bottom of the toy chest pretty fast.

Instead, choose toys that aren’t “fixed” and that can offer multiple ways to role play, create and learn, like a cardboard box that can become a rocket ship, a castle or a lemonade stand. Dolls, building toys and creative materials like paint and molding clay are also excellent “non-fixed” choices.

With these two concepts in hand, I was ready to conquer toys!

Um, easier said than done.

While I love these concepts, I have to confess that they were a little tricky to implement in our household. As a professional organizer, I can easily let go of things. (My husband says I’ll get rid of anything that’s not bolted down.)

My daughter, on the the other hand, is a different story. She is attached to ALL of her toys, whether they be broken, tossed aside or “fixed.” We are guilty of having MANY “fixed” plastic toys. So what’s a parent of a little pack rat to do?

Luckily, I had an ace in my back pocket. One of my dear friends, Patty Morrissey, also happens to be a KonMari consultant in New York and a Simplicity Parenting advocate. Patty encouraged me to think of our home as a classroom and our toys as inventory that I can curate based on my daughter’s current stage of development.

For Patty, her ah-ha moments came when she finally began to choose toys that she actually wanted to play with with her daughter. She says, “As soon as I brought some nostalgia back into my daughter’s toys, I found myself wanting to play and engage with her more. I love thrifting, so I went out and found old vintage board games, Strawberry Shortcake dolls and watercolors, and before long, the TV was off and we were finding ways to connect and play together.”

Keeping Patty’s wisdom in mind, I was ready to implement a system in our home that felt true to the Kondo and Payne method and that also inspired me to WANT to play more and build more connection.

Our middle ground came from implementing a toy rotation system, which we did by following these steps:

1. Store

I stored the vast majority of my daughter’s toys in plastic bins tucked neatly away in her closet.

2. Curate

We chose a very limited amount of non-fixed toys for active play. These are her dolls and doll houses, Easter eggs and little figurines for impromptu Easter egg hunts (all year round!), markers and coloring books, Play Doh and a few other things.

3. Rotate

When she tires of the toys that she is currently playing with, we place them in a plastic bin and store them away, and bring out some other toys to freshen things up.

4. Donate

I take note of toys that are NEVER played with, and they quietly make their way to the donate bin. This way, she doesn’t feel as though her treasured toys are being discarded behind her back, and we can ALL feel the peace that comes with having an un-cluttered space.

As Payne so succinctly says, “Simplification establishes an unspoken emphasis on relationship.”

So, when your child is asking for that new shiny toy, ask yourself: Do they want that toy or do they want more of ME? By decluttering our environment, we make space and time for more connection.

By giving my daughter less, I am hoping to give her more.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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