Guest written by Mimi Chan, founder and CEO of Littlefund.
One of the most common warnings my friends with children gave me even before I was pregnant with our first was that your children’s things will take over your living room, and then eventually your life.
I couldn’t help but think that this was a challenge for me to take on when I eventually became a parent. I was certain that our family could find a way to balance the possessions from our little one given the limitation of our home square footage. It wasn’t only the fear of chaos, clutter, and primary colors potentially burying our home that scared me. It was also that those things would hinder our path to teaching our children important values and life lessons in the long run.
So, when I finally became a mama and took on the task of making room for my little one, I devised a parenthood plan for everyday living while teaching my children a way of life I’m proud of:
Determine how FEW storage baskets you’ll set aside for your children’s toys. It’s a lot easier to hold yourself accountable when you’ve made a public declaration of your goal, so make this rule be known to your extended family. For example, if you decide on 3 large baskets, as the family grows the children will share or add to those storage baskets. Instead of expanding your storage, you’ll want to decide what types of things get brought into the home and kept since you have limited storage space for toys. Savings should compound, not storage bins for your children’s toys. The baskets will be a reminder to the family when things are filling up and how valuable space is. Having less will allow your children to get more play out of the things you do keep.
Before purchasing a toy, take time to think about it for a bit before making the decision. Amazon makes it too easy to buy anything with one-click to arrive same day. Making a rule to NOT get click happy when it comes to toys will help parents and children find the “joy” in toys for longer than a day. Shop around and make sure it is something you and your child will want beyond the initial “I want it” phase wears off. You can ask a few friends, research online, compare items and prices, and read reviews. This time allows parents to be more conscious about what’s really inside their children’s toy bins versus using it as a way to hide the overwhelming amount of things in the child’s play area.
When giving gifts, go practical. We now live in a world where gifts do end up piling up and creating more harm to our environment than we ever realized back then when that quote ‘it’s the thought that counts” was popularized. It’s tempting to give something you think is cute, but chances are the recipient’s family may not find it as useful or have room in their toy bins for it. So, think outside the gift box! Experiential gifts, including fun outings and classes, offer something we can never have too many of, and that is great memories!
Don’t hoard Hand-Me-Downs. Hand-me-downs are the best but accept offers wisely. The clutter from stored hand-me-downs that don’t yet fit, can often distract you from seeing what you already have. For my family, play clothes are our hand-me-downs of choice. It’s great to not spend money on the things that will wear and tear fast. When you receive a bag of goodies, always invest a moment to sort through everything and then donate or offer it to others the items you don’t need or can’t easily store. A great rule for toys is to only take what your child CURRENTLY is in need or want of.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Although they are suggestions to help simplify your home life with children, I know staying dedicated takes discipline and patience. But like any habit you want to build, just keep at it. And you’ll surprise yourself. For me, what started out as just this simple plan for me to manage the influx of things also became the inspiration to start my current company.
Mimi Chan is the founder and CEO of Littlefund, @littlefund. She currently resides in San Francisco with her husband and daughters, preschooler Liv and, baby Ivy. In her spare time, she enjoys capturing her daughter’s weird sleep positions on her Instagram stories.