The Art of Toy Minimalism

Published on: December 21, 2018

Less is more, or so they say. But how can stripping back the number of toys help promote play? 

By Victoria Davis

Toys, toys, toys!!! As much as we try, they seem to be everywhere!

During pregnancy, I had the idyllic notion that my child would play only with educational toys: wooden sets, musical instruments, and handmade imaginative toys.

Fast-forward two years and my two-year-old daughter, Odessa, seems to be besotted with bells, whistles and plastic gadgets, particularly the kind that are gifted to her from various Thai friends around our soi (my local 7/11 being THE hub of free, plastic items!)

I realized she was overwhelmed. She didn’t know where to start, so she just didn’t start at all.

As the house filled with stuff, I began to realize that, if all the toys were in her play area, scattered around or in tubs and boxes, she wouldn’t play with anything. She would try and find other household items to play with, rather than her own toys. She would constantly bother me for entertainment and I couldn’t understand why. You’ve got a room full of toys, play with them!

I realized she was overwhelmed. She didn’t know where to start, so she just didn’t start at all.

It dawned on me that she didn’t yet have the skills to create her own play time, so it was up to me to do it for her.

Fewer toys led to more play

Every night when she went to bed, I went to town on the toys! I switched everything around. I would pack away about a third of the toys and set up different play areas. A Duplo area, a drawing area, a few soft toys on the couch, a book table with a beanbag.

In the morning, she would come out of her bedroom and see a whole variety of things to do, even with very minimal items.

Every night when she went to bed, I … switched everything around.

The difference has been amazing. I would guess she is getting at least double the time and value out of the toys compared to when they were all out and scattered around with no context.

I found myself wanting to play with her more because the space was more organized, less cluttered, less overwhelming. We could move from one activity to another easily.

Now that she is a little older, she chooses her toys and puts away the ones she doesn’t want to use. These toys are put in an entirely separate cupboard, away from her play area, and we call it ‘treasure’. She loves to come and select her different treasures every few days.

Toy minimalism opens up space for creativity

“Toy minimalism” is the intentional removal of toys in order to open up a space of creativity, value, and resourcefulness.

Between the ages of one and three, toy minimalism can be used to develop focus, purpose, and simplicity in the play experience. At this age, children can also communicate which toys they like and which toys they don’t want to play with at that time. Kids enjoy feeling in control and this is a healthy way to give them that sense of direction.

Essentially, less is more – kids don’t need much to have a satisfying play experience.

Over the age of three, toy minimalism can be used to foster imagination, inventiveness and also kindness. Sorting through and donating toys to underprivileged children can become a joyful and bonding experience with your kids. It also teaches responsibility, not just at home, but also in the greater community.

Benefits of toy minimalism

  • Teaches your child to ‘clean up’ or pack away their toys, thereby giving them responsibility and a sense of ownership.
  • Eliminates boredom and the feeling of being overwhelmed by stuff, which is beneficial for both you and your child.
  • Promotes focus and imagination; watching your child in their own world of make-believe is a blessing.
  • Frees up your time; no more tidying up big messes constantly.
  • Stops you stepping on or tripping over dolls and Lego in the middle of the night!
  • Helps your child appreciate the toys they already have, thereby encouraging them to take care of their toys and ensuring toys are not considered ‘disposable’.
  • Promotes caring and sharing; encouraging your child to donate their toys to other, less fortunate children is a great way to teach thoughtfulness and compassion.

Essentially, less is more – kids don’t need much to have a satisfying play experience.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

 

About the Author

Victoria is a professional astrologer who moved from Australia with her husband Mark and 2yo daughter, Odessa (Frankie). Victoria enjoys yoga, meditation, Thai massage, and spending time with friends and family. She runs a “Community Travel and Living” group on Facebook and her astrology work can be found at “Who Am I Astrology” on Facebook, Instagram and www.whoamiastrology.com.

The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.

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