I just want to see the floor again
We sold our house in London in April 2017 and were told our visas would be with us by Easter, and then we would be flying out to New York a week later. So we went to stay with friends for two nights, the shipping company came and packed up all our possessions and we completed on our sale. Off we went with a bunch of suitcases, a travel bassinet, a stroller and a few toys to amuse my 1-year and 3-year-old children on the flight. We had the maximum amount of things we could take on the aeroplane and hopefully survive for the first few weeks before our shipment arrived.
Then the fateful day came when my husband returned from work and told me that our visa application had been delayed. It was unclear when it would be approved. Weeks and months went on, and we moved seven times in five months. Surprisingly enough my children survived with a minimal amount of toys to play with. They were just fine, and I loved how creative they were with less stimulus. Each evening there was only one small box of toys to tidy up in the corner of the lounge and I embraced this transitory minimalism. Then my offspring were reunited with all their toys they hadn’t seen for six months, and the mess came back…
And yes folks, this is the mess we see on a daily basis; toys strewn across the floor, muddled and mismatched. And as the weeks have passed, a quick tidy up just isn’t enough. I need a blitz, I need to declutter, these toys need the KonMari treatment. It fills me with a giddy kind of energy, I look at friend’s children and babies who are younger than mine and think about which toys we can give away. Everything needs a home, a box, a shelf and I desperately try and keep a ‘one in, one out’ policy. Just before we sold our house, I had a big declutter, firstly for the decorator, then the property photographer and then the viewings. It filled me with a strange sense of zen. At 7pm when I’m trying to hide any item that is a primary colour so I can feel like a grown-up again, I long for that calm.
If you are looking for a small decluttering project with spring cleaning on your mind, here are our top tips for a toy declutter:
- Remove and clear out any toys that are not age appropriate for your children and ones that they don’t play with any more. Give away to friends, your local play centre or charity. Do not put them in your basement or loft room. Keep the process quick. The toys should exit the building.
- Aim to keep toys which will be played with for longer, for example toys that develop good motor skills and can be educational such as Lego, Brio or Playmobil.
- Try and theme your storage boxes with sets of toys; colour code and label as needed. And if you end up with miscellaneous leftovers, be creative. I have a toy box at home which I call the sensory box – it is full of noisy things, some musical, tactile, imaginative toys; things with different textures.
- Put up shelves or display boxes to create a dedicated space for the most treasured and special toys that your children are attached to. Make your children own this space and get involved with choosing what is stored there.
- Invest in furniture with good storage for your child’s room whether it be a desk, bed or bookshelf. Purchase items that have flexible storage options.
However, if you are thinking big for a kid’s bedroom or playroom, especially if you are redecorating or renovating, go and get lost in Pinterest. Be inspired by those beautiful, clean spaces all color-coordinated and tidy with not a lego brick out of place. It’s good to aim high, and we’ve created our own Pinterest board to get you started. Good luck!