Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Simplifying Life: trying to be clutter free (Part 2 of 2)

People often ask: "How do you do it? How do you live on that tiny boat with two kids?" My answer: It's just the same as living on land, but smaller. And because it's smaller, we don't have the space for a gazillion toys. Not having tons of toys...it's actually refreshing. I know what toys we have, I know what toys the girls like and which ones they're not very interested in, I know which ones they might like in the future. But we still have a bunch of toys and the only way I can keep the clutter and mess under control is by using some sort of toy rotation.

Instead of housing books, the bookshelf in the main cabin is now a depository for Matilda's board books and a few toys both she and Freja enjoy.  We have a tiny play stove that we bought in Sweden that also doubles as a stool for Freja. She has a corner of the counter allocated for her "choking hazards." Small toys that a preschooler can play with but a baby would choke on.

Freja standing on her stove; Matilda hoping she can one day climb up there.

Matilda with her bookshelf emptied.

Toys and books at baby level. 
But yes, we have many, many more toys than fit in the little bookshelf. Hidden away in the closet in the aft cabin is a big box filled with blocks, legos, dolls, ball games, and more. When the girls get bored with what is currently on the shelf, about once every two weeks or so,  I wait until they're sleeping them stealthily swap the toys out. They wake up in the morning to a whole new batch of toys.

Toy rotation is also a tenet of the Montessori way of learning. The Montessori method believes that kids get easily overwhelmed with too many choices. The image of a kid leaning over toy box and frantically slinging toys over his shoulders till the box is empty and the living room floor is covered with toys is no urban legend. It happens. Shelves allow kids to see what toys are available and select what they want to work with. Not only are their fewer toys out which means fewer toys to pick up at the end of the day, but the girls know exactly what their options are for play and they can be a little more intentional. (Well, as intentional as little one can be!) Our shelves are not beautiful and we have a fair number of plastic hand-me-down toys, but here are a couple posts of prettier play spaces for kids: Montessori for Beginners and Toys, Materials, and Shelves.

Sometimes Freja does panic and suddenly want to play with Legos or that "blue toy that has the song that goes da da da dum de dum and there is the ball thing that goes around" (if you know what toy she is talking about, please tell me!) and I'll pull out the requested toy. But, generally, the girls seem happy playing with only a few toys at a time and it only takes a few minutes to clean up the mess at the end of the day. Win-win all around.

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