Allow me paint the scene:
It’s early Saturday morning, Grace has just woken up, the house is silent and I am fumbling my way towards her cot to scoop her into my arms and ferry her to the kitchen where I can silently make her a bottle. I roll out of bed, place my feet on the floor and stand. I take a few steps forward and SNAP! I am assaulted by a sudden wave of excruciating pain. What the holy hell was that? I look down and see one of Sophie’s many Barbie’s sitting on the floor in the exact spot I just put my foot.

My house is littered with these booby-traps. Pockets of clutter that fill me with anxiety. I have blogged a little about my journey towards a minimalist life and for the most part, this has been quite a personal journey, but the older Sophie gets, the more I feel the need to introduce this way of life to her.

I come from a long line of hoarders and fate had so much fun when she made me fall in love with one. It is honestly my absolute worst. I cannot stand mess, clutter or excess of any kind. I have a grading system I use for decluttering – give it a score out of 10, anything less than a 7 gets tossed. If you haven’t used it or worn it in a year it gets tossed.

A month or so ago, I read an article on toy minimalism and my first reaction was a dramatic eye roll because kids need toys. Right? Riiiiight??! Wrong! They need adventure and excitement and love and to learn. Toys are not necessary for a happy childhood, in fact I have reaslied that the more Sophie has, the more stressed and distracted she is. So I kept reading and I chatted to Regan and now we are doing this and it’s been quite amazing.

Simply put, toy minimalism refers to the intentional removal of all or most of the toys from your home. The aim is foster a better sense of creativity and innovation in your child – I mean we all know that old chestnut about a child being happier to play with an empty box than a brand new action figure. Creating an environment where your children have less means you are forcing an environment that is more reliant on innovative thinking and creativity. It also slowly introduces the concept of conscious consumption, but I’ll get to that next. More clutter means more stress and anxiety for both you and your children. Cleaning out is liberating. Trust me. Sophie gets so many toys throughout the year and at the end of the day she actually only plays with 5 specific things. The rest just sit in a toy box gathering dust, waiting to be played with. It’s massively wasteful.

This is a difficult one. Children are born with needs and parents create wants. Once the wants are there, they are pretty difficult to get rid of. We live in a society that celebrates excess and this mentality inevitably reaches our kids through advertising, our own spending habits, their friends and gift giving.  Toddlers have a very strong sense of ownership. Tell them you’re going to pack all their crap up and throw it out and the roof might just come off your house.
So how do you explain it to a 4 year old? Well firstly, it’s not one conversation, but rather a constant, lifestyle altering narrative that needs to center around conscious consumption (teaching your child to look at their toys as objects of value that bring joy to their lives, not just things to get or buy and then forget about). All we’re doing right now is explaining that we have too much, and that’s a bad thing. We’re asking her to look at her toys and decide which toys make her the happiest. Then we’re going to pack up the balance of the toys and donate them. It’s a step-by-step approach.

This was quite easy, one of my favourite blogs, Parenting from the Heart, has a great guide you can use. It’s pretty simple:
1] Is it versatile?
2] Does it grow with my child?
3] Is it classic?
4] Is it still fun without batteries?
5] Does it encourage problem solving?
6] Is it in good working condition?

All the yeses are keepers, all the noes gotta go.

Spend some time watching your child play, take note of the toys they reach for, the ones they carry around, these are the toys that add value to their lives. Toy boxes are unnecessary and only encourage hoarding. Keep what you can fit on the shelves. Nothing should be hidden away, your child should always be able to see and access their toys.

Look, we’ve only just started this journey, but so far the biggest change I have seen in Sophie is that she is more focused on what she’s doing. Before she would jump between toys every few minutes, never finishing a puzzle or colouring in sheet, it was always on to the next. It’s so wonderful to see her actually having engaging play time for a change.

Do you think you could embrace a more minimal life? It’s made a huge difference for me, I spend less money, I’m happier and I cherish what I own more than I ever did. If you’re interested to read more about the steps I’ve taken towards a minimal life - click here. 

Thanks for reading!


Nikki Lincoln

Thanks for reading my little blog! I'm Nikki, writer, mom, passionate foodie and bookworm. In addition to my blog, I also craft creative and engaging content for various FMCG brands and a few events companies.

On my blog you'll find parenting tales, tips and advice, occasionally a recipe or two, products reviews and once in a while even a giveaway. If you'd like to say hi or find out more about working with me or my writing services please pop me a mail:


  1. Great questions on what to keep and what to discard. I'm the opposite of minimalism- I want more toys, feel my 18 month old has too little. I think we get these toys because they get bored easily.

    1. Oh absolutely. But I think we should look at the kind of toys we chose to purchase more critically.

  2. Really enjoyed this post, Nikki! We've also been embracing a more minimalist approach at home, and I've seen massive changes in Noah's focus and in the way he plays. He has a huge love for his Lego collection, but aside from that, he spends the majority of time playing imaginative games outdoors, colouring in, 'playing' guitar and putting on little shows. It's been amazing to watch his creativity come alive, and I think the fact that we whittled down his toy collection BIG time had a lot to do with it. Off to read your previous post on minimalism... think I missed that one!

    1. 100%! I've seen such a huge change in the way Soph engages now that we've cleared out and it's so positive.

  3. We do this with K, and it's awesome. We also make use of the one in one out rule - it applies to everything but books and lego.

    1. The one in one out rule is gospel in our house. And not just for toys.


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