Minimalism has been all the rage for quite some time now, and I get the feeling I know why.
We are constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of new images, sounds and information each day. Our phones flood us with more stimulation than we can process, at times. So, to me, it makes total sense that we would seek refuge in… less.
We rid ourselves of our excess, so simplicity can settle in. We create light and airy spaces in our homes, lives, habits and minds, so we can breathe more deeply than before.
Yet, kids and the parents of young children are targeted relentlessly by product advertisements for an endless amount of “necessities”. Often, parents choose to fill their homes with all the latest “must haves,” believing that if they love their children, they must continually provide them with the newest, brightest, most entertaining thing.
I’m here to tell you that the opposite is much more beneficial. Less is more — for children, too.
Less quantity, more quality
When I notice my children carefully pacing the floor of their cluttered playroom, not knowing where to start building, playing, imagining, or how to clean up — that’s when I know the time has come to do some toy rotation and store some things my kids haven’t been using, or declutter and provide them with the space to enjoy the things that actually interest them.
When choosing to bring an item into our home, I focus on things that can be used in diverse ways that will bring my children joy for a longer period of time, rather than cheaply-made things that end up getting tossed aside or thrown away.
Less entertaining, more learning
For a child, not only the amount of toys filling their space can be overwhelming — the stimulation they are often confronted with can be overbearing, as well.
Magda Gerber says that a child under 3 months of age does not require a single play object.
If you were to ask the infant and toy industry, they would counter with a list of colorful gadgets and informational entertainment. But for a baby, even something as simple as their own two hands can provide them with not only fascination, but also important information that helps them further understand the world they find themselves in.
Making the connection that the hands which sometimes find their way into the scenes they observe are actually a part of them, then discovering all of the things they can do with them, are all ground-breaking discoveries taking place for our infants!
When we do start to introduce play objects to our children, we mustn’t look far. Small scarves, or household items such as colanders, cups and baskets fully suffice if our focus is to provide our children with the “passive toys” which provide our children with the opportunity to become “active learners,” rather than lean back and watch as an “active toy” does all the work and leaves them with no alternative but to become a “passive baby,” always waiting for the next form of entertainment to engage with them.
Less noise, more natural
One of the most beautiful things about becoming a parent, for me, has been the invitation to view the world through fresh eyes, as if for the first time.
When we slow our pace to take in what our children are seeing, or even just observe the way their eyes are brightened in wonder upon experiencing the simplest of things, we will quickly realize that a child’s natural surroundings are enough.
They don’t need spinning, twirling mobiles when there are leaves dancing in the trees.
Nor do they require singing stuffed animals when they can listen to the melodies of their mother mark their heart forever.
Our homes do not need to be filled with toys that are visually or audibly loud. This world is vibrant enough as it is!
Let us choose to compliment our environment by bringing in beautiful things that are pleasing to the eye, rather than ones that distract from the beauty that surrounds us.
I’d like to conclude with a gentle reminder that when we choose less for our children, we are also choosing…
- less time cleaning up,
- less money being spent,
- & less distraction for our little ones.
In turn, we are providing them with more space for them to enjoy discovery and more time to be spent in their place of deep, creative flow.
So yes, in a child’s case, less is also more — and it is an invaluable gift for the entire family.