Is your home overrun by toys, sports equipment, and children’s artwork masterpieces? Do you have boots, gloves and hats overflowing at the front door? Well I do. Living in Vancouver we do not have the luxury of a lot of space in our houses. Due to the high cost of housing many Vancouver families are living in condos, townhomes and small houses. That is the case for my family of five.
Tame the Beast
Every few months we go through our house, we sort things by keep-out-to-use, store away for a later date, give away, and toss. With three kids it always surprises me how much we accumulate in a short time. My girls love to keep every school creation and cool looking rock or stick we find on our walks. After we do a thorough sort and clean up we all feel so much calmer.
A Move to a Minimalist Lifestyle
A minimalist is interested in keeping things very simple. A minimalist prefers the minimal amount or degree of something.
We don’t need all of the clothing we have stuffed into our dresser drawers. Most people wear the same five outfits week in and week out. If we could see everything in that drawer, you would wear it. When an area gets too full or cluttered, we can only handle what we can see and do not even look past the surface.
Think of your kitchen pantry (if you’re lucky enough to have one). If you can’t see what you have, you will probably purchase a duplicate item, not realizing you already had it buried behind other items
Clutter, Children and Anxiety
Clutter is defined as a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass. Some people love to stay tidy, others, not so much, and then some are oblivious to the chaos. Organize your space for the family. It can make a difference in your children’s behaviour.
After a long day, coming home to a calm, tidy house provides space to decompress.
Children who have just spent 6-8 hours at school or daycare are often exhausted! When they arrive home to a messy or cluttered home, many kids cannot handle it. All of the extra stimulus that comes with clutter and an untidy home makes your body starts to flood with that uneasy feeling of either I can’t handle this and I will turn off completely, or you go into overdrive and work to clear a path.
Less Toys, Longer Play
Do you have a playroom full of toys or a living room full to the brim? Even with ALL of those toys, you still hear ‘I am bored’ or ‘I have nothing to play with’. This is common with children who are overwhelmed by the amount of toys they have to choose from. Having too many toys and too many options actually hinders a child’s imagination and, in turn, length of play.
In a ScienceDirect article, “The influence of the number of toys in the environment on toddlers’ play,” the researchers found that fewer toys allowed kids to play longer and be more imaginative with the items they had. And in a Psychology Today article, Dr. Susan Newman discusses that fewer toys resulted in healthier play, and deeper cognitive development.
I am not saying to go through and get rid of all of your kid’s toys, but minimize what is out at one time. You can rotate toys and/or store toys away for later use. When you bring them back out kids are often more excited and, sometimes, think the toys are new! If you bring out stored toys and no one plays with them, it is time to donate!
How to Create a Calm Home Environment
I strongly believe we should NOT be following our kids around the house cleaning up after them. Let them play freely without worry of being interrupted in the middle of a fashion doll wedding or a dinosaur parade. But a few simple steps can really help get the house back to calm and tidy so everyone in the house can relax. Having only what you need in your home makes putting items away much easier.
Every 3 to 4 months:
- Go through items one room at a time and sort into use it, donate it, sell it or trash it.
- Store items you have designated to the future with labels like, hand-me-down clothing with the size/age and/or toys for a certain age group.
- For items you are keeping, make sure it has a visible place in your home.
- Find storage solutions that the whole family can use. Think open shelves, open bins, clear/see through bins, hooks, and shoe racks for even the youngest family member.
- Label seasonal items before putting them away so you can easily bring them out when needed.
- Create a place for everything—and put things away.
- Find a time of day to tidy up, for example, after dinner each night.
- The whole family can work together to put items where they belong after using them.
As Marie Kondo would say, “If it doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it!”
You do not need a bigger home. You need an organized one with less stuff that allows you to spend less time cleaning and more quality time with the family, having fun!