Thoughts on Toys from an Aspiring Minimalist

September 21, 2013


Minimizing toys can be tough and emotionally loaded.  My husband and I are on the same page with minimizing toys, which makes it much easier.  But, getting rid of toys can cause relational tension with your kids and family members.  We told our family about our one-in-one-out policy.  Knowing that for every toy that came in, one would go out was hard for them.  Some felt sorry for our children.  But, neither my husband nor I feel sorry for our kids for having to make choices.  They can’t have everything they want- they have to choose and focus on only those things they most value.


With that, I  wanted to share a few thoughts on toys:

  •  Resist toys that do something to entertain your children.  Talk.  Move.  In my opinion, these toys lose their novelty quickly.
  • Lean towards toys that require something of your children.  Designing.  Pretending.  Creating.  Building.  Crafting.  Decorating.
  • I love wood blocks.  I bought a heavy set as soon as I was sure that Charlie wouldn’t hurt his sister with them.  These are one of the items that I’m planning to hold on to even after my children are gone.
  • Trains are wonderful toys.  Although our children have outgrown them, I get them out regularly when young children visit our house.  Charlie and Elizabeth are more than happy to help their younger friends by building track- not because they want to, mind you.  They’re being helpful.  ;-/
  • Legos are wonderful.  After the initial project is built, there’s so much room to build and create.  I love what our children come up with.
  • Our Playmobil toys have seen a ton of use.  For several years, the kids would get lost in their created universes.  My kids often set up scenarios that included wood blocks, legos and Playmobil.
  • Art.  I keep a well stocked art cabinet.  If the kids are bored, we get the bin out and talk about the possibilities.  There are hot glue guns, potholder kits, yarn, knitting needles, embroidery supplies, felt, sculpey clay, paint, paint brushes and heavy paper.
  • Board and card games.  So much to be said here.  Board games have helped my children practice the habit of being a good sport.  Throughout life, they’ll benefit from being able to win and lose graciously.  Our current favorites:  Dixit.  Forbidden Island.  Skipbo.  Jumbling Towers.  Aquarius.  When I’m playing with Elizabeth, she still often opts for Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders.
  • We go through the kids toys about every six months.  The kids choose which toys they’re ready to part with.  If they haven’t played with a toy in the last six months, might be time for the toy to have a new owner.
  • Our back yard is our best toy.  The kids still spend hours creating rivers in the back yard with the hose on a trickle.  They love to set up Playmobil villages, rivers and dams.  They pretend for hours.
  • I can’t recommend a rebounder highly enough for home schoolers.  Whenever our children have a hard time settling down, 3-5 minutes of jumping helps them calm down and focus.  We still use it several times a week.

Perhaps this list doesn’t sound so minimalist.  It’s definitely not as lean as some minimalists.  Minimalism is a process for our family.  We’re trying to live simply with only the items that we find beautiful or useful.  Yes, we could cut the number of toys.  We’re trying to tread lightly with our children.  While we would love for them to grow up embracing simple living, they are not minimalists right now.  We love our kids more than we love minimalism, and we don’t want to have conflict over belongings.  As we move toward my older child’s pre-teen years , we want to spend our relational capital carefully.  We have found that as all our belongings are more and more simplified over time, our children have gotten used to getting rid of what they don’t play with.  They often suggest it before I do now.  So, it truly hasn’t been a battle.

What about you?  Thoughts on great toys for toy minimalists?


2 Responses to “Thoughts on Toys from an Aspiring Minimalist”

  1. Mr Smith Says:

    After the excesses of the Christmas period, this rings so true! I’m planning on doing some talking and thinking with a group of year 6 (10yr old) children tomorrow whom I’m supporting with reading skills. I’m going to let them read your blog post, after our discussion, and then I’ve written some questions for them to answer regarding your thoughts. Hope tis is okay with you, I can send you a copy if you’d like to see what I’m planning.

    • Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

      So glad you found the article useful! I hope you have a productive discussion with your students.

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