Excess can be overwhelming and stressful, regardless of whether it is too much stuff, information, actions, choices or too fast pace – hurry between successive activities, no break to play and “nothing to do”.
Simplifying daily routine, reducing information overload, and reducing the number of toys can help especially over-stimulated children in quiet. Children are happiest and thrive when they have time and space to explore the world without pressure and without excess.
It is worth simplifying the child’s world
“Many of today’s behavioral problems are seen in children who have too many things and live too fast” (1). Lots of children experience excessive sensory load due to too many objects around them, too many choices to take and too much information. Organizing the home space, the rhythm of the day and the selection of arriving stimuli can significantly reduce the child’s everyday stress and give space for positive growth, development of creativity and make it calm and relaxed. By simplifying the space in a child’s room, reducing the amount of “distractions”, like toys and clutter, we increase its ability to focus attention and focus on a specific occupation, because “too many things surrounded by children means that they are unable to see or sink into the world around them”.
Yes, we all know that, but how to do that? The answer is Less toys = more fun!
Children have their favorite toys, which they play regularly and for a long time. Often the simplest items are the best.. (2) – no sounds or electronics, such as stuffed animals, dolls, wooden blocks, Lego, trains, cars, dishes and all art and artistic materials. And these are worth leaving! At the rest look with the critical eye and assess what it will be good to part with forever, and what maybe in a while again will be interesting and will find a new application in the game.
I find the easiest and the best way to organize is to divide toys into categories:
- educational toys that support both cognitive development and motor skills, such as puzzles, puzzles, sorters or games;
- artistic toys, e.g. paper, glue, crayons, plasticize, paints, etc.;
- toys for play sports, e.g. balls and other sports equipment, wheeled vehicles, pushers;
- building toys, e.g. wooden blocks, Lego and other toys for the development of small motor skills;
- musical toys, i.e. all kinds of instruments;
- toys that imitate everyday activities, that is toys for emotional and social development, and supporting language skills, when the child presents the stories he invented, such as kitchen sets, cars, fire station, animal figurines, plush toys.
Often, despite such a reorganization of toys, there are still too many of them.
Then their turnover works well: some of the toys will be hidden, and after some time will appear again (and other will disappear).
At my home, I have a special storage places to contain most of the toys and rotate them when necessary.
I can suggest you a simple Ikea BESTA shelfs (various sizes) – these white shelves are simple and practical. Build them to fit your space, but my favorite is the basic element 120x40x38 cm with one shelf.
Such a scheme of rotational exchange of toys has many pluses:
- having fewer available toys reduces over-stimulation, making children more creative;
- every moment of changing the set of toys causes positive emotions related
- rotation gives a chance to eliminate toys from which children have already grown up.
In the children’s library, it is also worth doing a review, finding a place for your favorite books, which you often come back to together, and for the rest reach for rotation.
For the book corner in our home, I am using again from Ikea, these simple shelves hung at a low height and they are great to display books – FLISAT and MOSSLANDA– to hold books front facing for easy choice.
It is good to add pieces of various types of fabrics, string and pillows to this book corner – it is an indispensable material for building bases, forts and playhouses. And your child wild thank you for a new place where she can get so much fun!
Slowly means better
Now it’s time to look at the family graphic designer. Simplifying it like space in a child’s room, you can finally make everyone stop feeling forever “on the road”. Children with a tightly filled schedule of school and out-of-school activities may feel overwhelmed and stressed. They really need free time to play and explore space. In addition, it is worth setting limits on the use of electronic devices; they are “time eaters”, and their limitation can have a beneficial effect on the concentration and mindfulness of the youngest, on joyful involvement in what is happening here and now. As Kim John Payne writes, “rest supports creativity that supports activity. Activity supports rest that supports creativity “(1).
Activity and rest are inseparably connected, one has a direct impact on the other. Parents often fall into the role of a “taxi driver“ who transports children from school to other out-of-school activities, and they are not likely to be satisfied or feel relaxed. When we limit the child’s extracurricular activities to one or two favorites, we will give him time not only for free play and discovering the world, but also for focusing on activities and activities that he chooses.
The physical ordering of the environment, determining the predictable rhythm also benefits the parents, because “as parents, we define ourselves through what we pay attention to and in what we participate in. It’s easy to forget about it when everyday life is more like “segregation of the wounded” on the battlefield “(1).
It is worth focusing on what is really important to us, and not just spending time responding to everything that the world accuses us of. Having fewer things brings the child many benefits: it supports the imagination and gives a sense of peace. Limiting the amount of additional activities allows you to enjoy your free time and to organize this time creatively.
Simplicity in parenthood
Simplification is a constant process, it cannot be “done” in one afternoon or weekend. It takes time to change habits, reduce possessions, set new paths and rituals. It is not easy to make changes when the whole family lives in a constant hurry, and chaos lurks at every step. It is worth to start slowly, from small steps, small changes, with a vision of how we want the future life of our family to look like.
After many years, it often turns out that it is not an exotic vacation or a costly trip to Disneyland, they take the first place on the list of childhood memories, but quite ordinary things – family dinners, walking together, reading before going to bed, Christmas baking gingerbreads.
Thanks to simplification, our life has a chance to gain new value because we will put the needs of our family above social expectations. Getting rid of excess will help to find harmony, slow down and adjust life to our dreams and hopes about how we would like our children’s childhood to look (2). Do we remember how it was when we were less stressed and carefree ?
Unfortunately, it is mainly us adults who generate haste, excess and ubiquitous chaos. There is a chance that when we slow down, we will stop and let our children let go of the bursting graphics, rush and expectations, let’s see how thanks to this, they grow in joy and enthusiasm in learning about the surrounding reality.
Only thanks to the simplification of the world and life, children have the opportunity to learn what they really like and what they want. This is what I wish to you and to myself.
- Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids.
- Marie Kondo: The life-changing magic of tidying up.