Minimalist Momma – keeping toys, kids art, gear and clothes to a minimum

The struggle is real. Toys are overtaking our living spaces, adorable art is camouflaging our fridges, and socks of all sizes are losing their matches in our dryers. So we swear we’ll get rid of the surplus kid things someday, but until then, we buy them more socks.

Is it even possible to be a minimalist mom? And if it is, how can we stay organized as we go? How can we purge beloved toys and sweet art guilt-free?

Good news! It IS possible to be a good mom and be minimalistic at the same time. And you don’t need to be the bad guy or do it by yourself either! We’re big fans of letting kids choose things to donate often, letting them learn that having “all the things” isn’t what makes us happy. And also letting them see that there are others who might not have as much as they do. So, here are a few practical tactics to keep the kid clutter in check – and to do it together as a family!

TOYS

We’ve said this often, and we’ll say it again – keep a donation box in plain sight, and fill it frequently. Modeling for your kids by dropping off a few of your own items in the box is a tremendous teaching tool for them. Then, whether it’s once a month or once a year, have the children come with you to drop off the toys for donation! You can even let them pick out one thrifted item as a treat if you like!

Staying organized is huge in keeping kid clutter at bay. Using clear boxes like these helps both you and the kids see the contents. You can label them so kids know where to put them back, and challenge kids to throw a few to the donation box once the toy box is too full.

Another old trick is keeping wicker baskets of toys on rotation. This is a fabulous way to keep toy clutter down and also keep things interesting. Hide one or two toy bins in the attic or closet, and do a big toy switch every now and again! Then watch the Christmas-morning-glee ensue. Kids get bored with too many options, and after a few weeks pass, the old toys you had tucked away feel brand new! If you still have too many, you could even keep one basket in the car as “car toys.”

ART

How guilty do we feel when we throw away our “little picasso’s” beautiful creations? Digitizing their art is a great option, but the many forms of digitalization can seem endless and overwhelming. We got you covered here.

We recommend using apps like Canvasly, where you can upload, organize, share, and even create cool gift items and cards with your kids’ art. Keepy is another great option, where you can upload, share, and organize – plus, backup to Dropbox in case anything ever changes with the app.

Another quick fix is to simply take pictures of your kids with their art to ensure the memory lives on forever. Just make sure you organize photos as you go on an iPhoto album for each child on your phone, so the memories don’t get lost. (Because digital clutter is now a thing, too.)

If you’re not into the technological hassle though, frame it and give it as gifts to grandparents, or simply hang their art on a clothesline in the mudroom, and have kids take an old one down to be tossed every time they hang a new one up!

GEAR

Between car seats, baby swings, high chairs, cribs, monitors, strollers and bikes, kid gear is inconveniently large, stationary, difficult to store, and expensive! Typically, parents feel they “need” all the gear and then end up only using 75% of it, so keeping a minimalist mindset is key here. Kids follow our example way better than they hear our words, so keeping these larger items down to a minimum is teaching our littles.

Keeping it gender-neutral is another way to get the maximum longevity out of the most necessary items. So even though it’s tough for grandma to resist the pink flower bike, politely request gender-neutral things that are both more reusable and economical.

Speaking of gifts, if you’ve been given two of something, whether an umbrella stroller or a sound machine, keep one at grandma’s or the sitter’s house. (‘Cause, let’s be honest, it never hurts to have an extra sound machine on-hand.)

CLOTHES

This one’s tricky because it’s different for every mom. What do we save, what do we keep? Some moms save for posterity or reuse, whereas others are quick to bring overflowing boxes to donate to their local thrift stores (ahem, subtle plug). If a gifted item doesn’t fit your taste, feel free to snap a pic of the child in the outfit, send the photo to your loved one, and swiftly bring it our way!

Wherever you are on the clothing storage spectrum, be sure (again) to stay organized! If you plan to pass things down to a younger family member, it may not overlap based on size and season. Store in boxes that are stackable, transparent and clearly labeled. We recommend labeling by gender, size, AND season for ease of reuse.

We hope these tips help bring peace to the process of simplifying your childrens’ items. Or just make your life a bit easier. We realize we neglected to advise on how to find those missing socks, though. Unfortunately, that’s just part of life. For more tips on having a minimalist lifestyle, see our blog “Tidying Up!

For additional information on how to donate and give to our wonderful charities, visit ThriftSmart.com.

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