Updated: Aug 21, 2021
When my children, now 16 and 12 years old, were younger they had significantly more "stuff" than they have today. While it is true that younger kids generally require more stuff (with the diapers, carriers, strollers, etc.), that's not the reason our kids had too much when they were little.
The reason was very simple ... we bought our kids too much stuff.
Not only did we buy our kids too much, our parents bought them too much and aunts and uncles bought them too much. We all had the best intentions, but many of them were misguided. And those misguided intentions turned quickly into clutter.
How did we know it was too much? Well, for one, we couldn't manage it. It seemed we were reorganizing our spaces often to make it fit for all the new items coming in. Additionally, there seemed to be too much to even enjoy. The decision fatigue was real with toys played with once and set aside and clothing purchased and worn a handful of times or not at all.
I can't remember exactly when it struck me that we had to find a new approach, but when we did it was life changing for our family. We chose to focus more of our money on experiences together rather than things and we asked our supporting cast to do the same in their gifting. This meant having a conversation with them about how we loved their generosity but items like gift cards to movies or restaurants or experiences were preferred over things.
Knowing many parents have likely experienced a similar starting point as we did, I wanted to share five things you kids probably have too much of based on my personal experience and having worked with many, many of our Neat Little Nest clients decluttering + organizing their homes as well.
There are so many different toys that your children can explore - small ones, big ones, building ones, fuzzy ones and the list goes on. Toys offer valuable opportunities for honing motor skills, curiosity, and they play a role in brain and physical development.
However, having too much of a good thing might not be the best strategy for your child. According to a study published by Infant Behavior and Development, fewer toys help toddlers and preschoolers to focus better and play more creatively.
In the study, toddlers in a group were given either four toys or sixteen toys. The children with four toys exhibited one-and-a-half times more interactions with the toys, indicating that young children “are more likely to play in more sophisticated, advanced ways with fewer toys present,” according to the study. This increased involvement with a toy has positive implications for many facets of development, including imaginative and pretend play, self-expression, physical skills such as fine motor coordination, and problem-solving.
This isn’t to say that parents shouldn't have toys on hand. It is to suggest that you might have more toys then is necessary. When considering keeping items or purchasing something new, ask yourself if it would really enrich playtime as something offering a new feature or functionality not currently in the toy box. I've curated some of Neat Little Nest's favorite items to organize toys here.
It's easy to quickly accumulate clothes with the speed at which they grow. This includes new apparel and hand-me-down clothing. This paired with not having a routine in which you review and take stock of clothing inventory inevitably leads to over purchasing.
And if those reasons were not enough, It is also easy to overbuy clothes because it is super easy to impulse buy when you see a cute dress, t-shirt or outfit that they don't really need.
Creating a plan that includes how often you review and parse down your kid's wardrobe and say goodbye to items that don't fit or pieces that they no longer love is paramount. My guess is that if you went through a handful of drawers or a closet right now, you would unearth clothing that have met the end of their life cycle (in your house). I've curated some of Neat LIttle Nest's favorite items to organize clothes in drawers here.
sheets, linens & blankets
How many sheets and blankets and pillows do you have for your children's beds? If the answer is more than one, consider keeping only one set of bed sheets for each bed. Doing this allows you to wash those linens once a week and put them right back on the bed rather than having to manage different sets of sheets and blankets. This also reduces any significant storage needs.
When kids are younger and having accidents, additional linens are necessary, but as they grow, we often get stuck in the cycle of buying and having extra sets without much consideration as to why.
bath (or teen beauty) products
If you haven't taken a look in your young child's bath or your teenager's shower in awhile, you might have more products taking up real estate than you think. With bath and beauty products continuing to be a focus for marketing campaigns, it's only natural that we collectively are wooed to buy products that we don't really need.
Worth over $500 billion, the industry is estimated to grow to $820 billion by 2023. Consider the patterns that you're teaching your children as they begin to experiment with beauty products and what lessons you might consider valuable to teach them as they head into adolescence and adulthood. To waste less, a simple start might be to use up products you already own before buying something new. To get the items you loved organized, check out some of Neat Little Nest's favorite drawer organizers here.
When kids are sick, of course parents want to do all that they can to help them feel better. In this attempt, often medicine cabinets are filled with a variety of OTC meds, vitamins and supplements. I've had clients who have stocked up on medicine thinking they might need it only for it to expire by the time they actually do. A good rule of thumb is to buy only what you need, one bottle or box of any particular item at a time and to review your inventory a few times a year, such as seasonally so that you are prepared for cold/flu or allergy season.
Kid stuff has a way of taking over. It starts innocently enough. However, kids are easily overwhelmed with choice, and a child who is unsure of what to play with or wear often ends up struggling to make a decision. More and more families are taking a more minimalist approach to toys and other which cuts back on the clutter and allows the focus to be on quality over quantity.
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