Less is More

by Lina on February 11, 2011

I’ve just come across a couple of articles on the topic of kids and their ‘stuff” that has made me think twice about what’s going on in our home. More specifically, how our home environment helps or hinders our creativity.

The first is an article found on ohdeedoh reviewing the LA TImes article “They’re not hoarders, they’re just messy”.  Interestingly, the article states that the tendency for children to collect things is natural and normal.  I remember collecting all sorts of things as a child from sticker collections (so 80s!) and friendship beads (the 80s really did rock!), and neon coloured shoe laces (oh ya!). Not to mention, stuffed animals, cabbage patch dolls along with the cabbage patch pony, the twins and all the accessories, barbies, along with the pink bedroom set and the pink convertible and caravan. Oh, I could go on and on!  As an adult, I don’t consider myself a full blown hoarder but I certainly find controlling my book collection, and other collections a challenge that has stayed with me.

The second article on a slightly different but related topic titled “Toys for Children: Less is More” raises some pertinent questions around the environment we create for our children from a young age. Which then leads me to question whether one (the environment we establish) has to do with the other (whether children collect and hoard and to what extent).

How much of a child’s tendency to ‘collect’ things is inherent vs learned?  Even if it is natural when is too much stuff… too much?

The following excerpt from the “Less is More” posting isn’t surprising:

…too many options can be debilitating. If they have a multitude of toys in front of them, they don’t really know what to do… they don’t get that opportunity to develop focus and concentration by playing deeply with one toy for an extended period of time.

There’s certainly something to be said for creating a beautiful and peaceful space for our children (and ourselves).  In particular what spoke to me in this article was the idea of creating a space where toys can be displayed rather than hidden away in a toy box.

Another point that hits home is the idea of providing toys that encourage open-ended play, meaning the child gets to decide what to do with them. As opposed to toys designed for a specific purpose.

What’s the take-away from all of this? I thought it might be worthwhile to create a checklist of criteria in which new toys need to meet in order to make the toy ‘cut’. Here’s what my family checklist looks like:

  • Is it beautiful?
  • Is it made of quality materials? (Bonus points for Canadian made or Fair Trade..)
  • Does it allow for open-ended play?
  • And of course, does the ‘boss’ like it?

Time to go de-clutter. I might not be back for a while…

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