The "toy detox" - an interview with an in-the-know mom

LIVE WITH LESS the toy detox

I’m delighted to share with y’all an interview I had with a mom who recently underwent a move that involved packing most of her family’s stuff to put into storage for a couple of months while their new home was being completed. Since many of her children’s toys were packed away, I was curious to learn how her children dealt with having less toys to play with, and I was fascinated to learn what has changed as a result. Read on for Kayla’s story.

1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family:
My name is Kayla Kuyper and I am wife to Levi and a stay-at-home mama to three littles: Nova, Lainey, and Asher. Our family recently uprooted ourselves from the comfort of our small hometown in the flat plains of southwestern Minnesota to what we call the “Big City” – big for us as its 50 times more populated, has a Target store within reach, and is accompanied by the nerves of roundabouts, 70 mph speed limits, and frequent honking if you’re too slow.

2) How did you prepare for the move - did you pack all of your belongings yourself or did you hire movers to pack your stuff?
Our preparation for our Big Move happened quickly. The day after my husband accepted his new position; our house was put on the market and sold within the week. Levi started his job in two weeks and our deadline to be out of the house was by the end of the month. This meant two things: I would primarily be responsible for packing our home by myself and I would need to prioritize what needed to go and what needed to stay.

My method for packing was a room by room approach in which items were boxed and labeled accordingly. During this process, I decided what to keep and what to toss by asking myself if I had used the item within the past 6 months and whether or not there were any duplicates. I can tell you that a number of crock pots and cake pans didn’t make the cut. 

3) How did you decide what to pack away and what to keep available for use?
During the process of packing, I also had to decide what to set apart to bring to our rental unit until our new home was ready to move into. Since it was fully furnished with a selection of a few toys, I decided to bring only that which is necessary to survive: clothing, food, and our coffee pot. All of our personal toys were either boxed, tossed, or gifted away. 

4) Tell me about your children's toys pre-move. What kinds of toys did they have? How did you decide what to get rid of?
The toy room was the hurdle I was not looking forward to jumping over the most. It wasn’t because it was messy or disorganized. Each toy had a bin and each bin had a space. The room was fairly large and organized. The thing was there was just too much! It caused me anxiety just looking at the room somedays. But I knew I had to get to work and so I applied the same method I had used for the rooms prior along with a few more parameters. First, I wanted to get rid of most plastic toys that were cheaply made, noisy, and, to put it simply, downright annoying. Second, I wanted to toss away those toys that didn’t help my children to create or use their own imaginations. Lastly, I said aloud to myself that one of something is enough. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work and ended up with way less boxes of toys than I had expected.

5) What have you discovered/observed as a result of the toy detox? Do your children miss the toys that are packed away?
The toy detox was a challenge for me because I struggled with the thought of “what are my children going to do?” I was (and still am) a newbie to the whole concept of living with less is more and there are times I hope I am not doing something crazy. But I have really seen something beautiful evolve that otherwise might have been missed. I have seen the imaginations of my children soar and with that a really sweet time of togetherness. Play food has been used as entrees at a restaurant as well as items at a grocery store. Legos have built castles, barns, towers, and houses. Toilet paper rolls are taped together by dad to be used as binoculars. Stairway steps as a stage for singing or used as seating on a school bus. End tables as an office desk. A couch as a hospital bed. Literally, their ideas are endless and the imaginations of my children have blown me away!

The other thing I observed was how I felt that my children needed my attention less. It seemed that they were able to engage in their play for longer periods of time than before. I felt that in the past I would sometimes have to tell or show them how to play with certain toys whereas, since the Big Move, they have appeared comfortable with fewer options. Maybe it’s because they feel less stressed or maybe it’s because they don’t have a choice. ☺ 

6) Do you plan to reintroduce the toys you packed away? If so, how and when?
The time is quickly approaching for us to move into our new home and unpack the toys we boxed away. It has only been two months into our toy detox so I am feeling both excited and nervous to see what the next few months will look like. I have thought of toys that I have boxed away that I already plan to give away. I was going to use a room in our new home as a toy space, but decided against it. My goal is to create smaller spaces within our home for play – having a basket of Legos here and a bin of dolls there. I plan to reintroduce their old toys a little at a time. Maybe even a box at a time, who knows. Moreover, I want our home to exude creativity, friendship, love, and a sense of belonging over the entertainment of toys.

7) What advice would you give to a parent who is thinking of packing up and/or donating some of their children's toys?
Our story may or may not be of any encouragement to you. It may seem overwhelming or impossible or even unappealing. Please remember that we went through a major life change to prompt the reconsideration of all our stuff. I do, however, think it is worth the attempting if it’s of any interest to you. My suggestion for other busy moms is to start small and work at it. Dedicate a weekend or weeknight to sift through what doesn’t belong. And if you are finding yourself stuck in the trenches needing help, I think Shannon would be of wonderful assistance!

Thank you so much, Kayla, for sharing your story with me! What a lesson in choosing to LIVE WITH LESS!

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