We recently decided to declutter, and vastly strip-down the quantity of toys available to our ten-month twins, by donating and rotating our stock. The effect of this has been immense: our home is much cleaner and tidier, and family life is more peaceful.
Sausage & Bean are able to play independently, whereas before they needed constant adult interaction to be content. Not because they’re high-need babies (they aren’t), but because WE created an overstimulating environment for them.
Dreaming of Minimalism
It all started when I discovered the KonMari method. At first I felt like this would be a great idea… one day. Because clearly I was not going to get the opportunity to do it properly any time soon!
I was a bit sad because I am naturally a messy hoarder (housework is my nemesis) and KM seemed to be the magic bullet which would solve this problem. I joined the KonMari UK and Ireland Facebook group, and gazed longingly at the transformations I saw.
But with two baby boys needing my attention, and the energy demands of breastfeeding added to that, I didn’t feel I had the capacity to start such an enormous project.
The solution came when I stumbled across the 40 Bags in 40 Days concept. This was an equally challenging idea in terms of scale, but it had huge appeal in that I could choose to do it gradually or in spurts – whatever my schedule allowed.
I love a good Lenten challenge – usually I fast from vices such as alcohol, chocolate or unhealthy food. But the very existence of this project challenged me, and showed me that I had an ‘addiction’ to stuff. We were drowning in it!
A Bespoke Blend
Despite choosing the 40 Bags method, I still used elements of KonMari in the decision-making process. Which toys actually spark joy for the children? Which toys sap joy from the parents (ie creating a cluttered, visually noisy environment)?
KonMari purists would insist on one concentrated session: one massive pile of everything in a certain category (Komono would be the jargon phrase, which essentially means Miscellany, and would include many household items in that category as well as toys.)
With twin babies around this just wasn’t an option, but I did find it helpful to make a pile of each category of toy in turn, to help me see how many similar/duplicate types we had. The biggest culprit was soft toys. MAN those things take up space! Particularly since my boys have shown very little interest in them…
Now we only have 4 toy activities on display at any one time, plus a reading corner, all at child-level and intentionally arranged to look as inviting as possible. The boys can easily help themselves, and it takes me all of two minutes to tidy it back up again.
Toy Rotation Sparks Elation
I rotate the twins’ toys & books on a weekly basis, and currently have no more than 2 Ikea Kallax boxes worth of stuff in storage. And yes, one of those is full of soft toys (I seem to be convinced that they will hit a soft-toy phase?!). As soon as a box overflows, something has to go in the charity bag!
I am aware that I will want to expand this 2-box limit somewhat as Sausage & Bean get older, since I’ll need to include art supplies, puzzles, fancy dress and some gross-motor toys. But for their needs right now it really works, and our home is a much calmer environment because of it!
I am almost all the way through my 40 bags challenge, and I can honestly say I have missed just one item from all the many bin bags-full that have gone to charity. And it’s so insignificant that I can’t even remember what the item was now!
Where are you up to on your decluttering journey? Or are you still drowning in stuff? Comment below to let us know!