Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When we know why we do what we do...

My friend and fellow blogger, Jen, from the Mindful Moms Network is special guest posting today! I absolutely love the message that Jen and her partners are sharing with the world, so I was THRILLED when she agreed to share some tips here on Cosy Carolina. In the post below, Jen gives us three simple but meaningful ways to deal with the clutter created by our kids' toys.

Simplicity Tip: Clearing the Kid’s Clutter and Creating Space for engagement, attention, and imagination

What might happen if you reduced your child’s toys by half…then half again? Would they even notice? My girls didn’t. It’s ironic, as you decrease the quantity of your child’s toys and clutter, you increase their ability to pay attention and their capacity for deep play (Simplicity Parenting). Makes sense, right?

The Mindful Mama goal: control the clutter so that a smaller, more manageable quantity of toys remain that invite deep play, engagement, imagination, and attention. Remember, simplifying, even our kid’s rooms, means making choices and knowing the trade-offs. When we know why we do what we do, we can be more effective in bringing about the change we wish to see. These three steps will help you be intentional about clearing the clutter so that you can create the space for your kid’s engagement, imagination, and attention spans to soar!

STEP 1: Start with PILES-- With all acts of simplicity, you have to have a plan. Decluttering your child’s space starts with planning 4 piles-- 1) KEEP, 2) TOY LIBRARY, 3) DONATE, or 4) DITCH. Explain your plan to your kids as you engage them in the process of mindfully managing their space. When I did this with my 5 and 3 year olds, they were asked to choose a couple items that they wanted to play with now, ones they wanted to play with later, and ones they were done playing with to give to other kids. This was an incredible eye opener for me. I found that the toys that my girls were insistent on keeping out were the ones that were the most simple. For instance, dolls were the overwhelming winner. My girls love baby dolls that they can cuddle, mend, feed, teach, and take on adventures. For my girls, dolls provide an opened opportunity for creative play and imagination. 

STEP 2: CONTEMPLATE-- As you pick up each item (yes, each and every item!) in the overflowing toy box or room, ask yourself, “Is this a toy my child can pour their imagination into, or is it too complicated?” If you are not sure, think about how they have played with it in the past. If they have rarely touched it, you have your answer. Asking this question as I held each toy in my hand helped me decided which pile it truly deserved to go in.

Collect 5
STEP 3: INTENTIONAL Receiving-- There are many times throughout the year that our children are on the receiving end of fun, new toys. Our children are lucky to be so loved by family members who want to demonstrate their love with giving. This is wonderful. Teaching our children to receive this love with excitement for what they receive is important. Even in the spirit of so much getting, we can still be mindful. Even though you have little control over the kind of toys that are given to your child, you do control their environment-- as in…how many toys you allow to fill up the space. Something that has worked well for me is watching closely which gifts my girls gravitate to after the excitement of opening all the gifts, and the initial 30 second “quick play session” is over. I pay attention to the couple gifts that really engage them. I then put away the others for a later date-- maybe in one day, one week, or one month. My intention is to keep the physical space clear so they can focus their attention-- their deep attention-- on one gift at a time.

As Mindful Mamas, we are intentional with clearing the clutter to create space for our child’s natural curiosity and imagination to thrive. But that's not all; we also simplify our parenting in the process. When we simplify our kid’s space, we are also simplifying our parental duties:

“You don’t need to stimulate or enrich play. You don’t have to control it. Sometimes we parents help most by getting out of the way, while being available. We can provide time, opportunities, and resources…by allowing rather than controlling, we give children a sense of freedom and autonomy. Their play is open-ended, the choices and decisions are theirs to make, and the discovery process includes self-discovery.” (Simplicity Parenting)

As Mindful Mamas, we are all about allowing and not controlling, getting out of the way, and providing the space for our children to discover who they really are.

Carrie again: isn't this so great??? I love it! To quote, "When we know why we do what we do, we can be more effective in bringing about the change we wish to see." BINGO!!  Thanks so much to Jen and the Mindful Moms Network!!

Do you think you could reduce your kids' toys by half ... and then half again?? I have certainly noticed that when there are fewer choices, the ones that are left are more meaningful to my kids.  

1 comment:

  1. My two favorite blogs together!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie


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