Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 10 Toys for a Minimalist Family

Imagine you are a real minimalist mum.

Not like I am, writing about it on my computer in utter middle-class suburban bliss while surrounded by a houseful of things I am still trying to tame.  And odds are, not like you are either.

Instead, imagine you are a mum who does not buy a toy for her kid "just because" ... ever!  You value money, space, time, imagination... you name it... too much for that.  Your friends and family also know this, so they don't give toys "just because" either.

Think about the tabula rasa (clean slate) method.  You have no toys left in the house.  (Wow - huge sigh of relief from the person who organises the toyroom!)

Now pick 10 toys to entertain your children.  We'll make it easier:  a set can be a toy and a game can be a toy.  If a toy has parts that get used up, you can replace them.  As toys are outgrown, you can replace them.

My Top 10 Toys

  1. Stacking blocks
  2. Lego
  3. Playdough and accessories
  4. Beachball
  5. Chalkboard and chalk
  6. Train set
  7. Soft toy (animal or whatever)
  8. Musical instrument
  9. Dress up costume
  10. Marbles
Could that be enough?  Why not?

My kids would be richer for the experience of using only these.  They would need to:
  • Share
  • Cooperate
  • Imagine
  • Invent
  • Enjoy

What would be on your list? I guarantee you'll learn something if you make one!


  1. I agree with your list, but would change soft toy to soft toy/figurines. My dear son doesn't care about soft toys, but uses his imagination effectively with his little soldiers. The nice thing is that they can be used with the blocks, train set, Legos, etc. to enlarge the playing field.

  2. The list is wonderfully flexible to cater to your own child's loves!
    Thanks for commenting!

    When I made my list, I considered some toys very carefully and remembered that there is also a household full of other objects that can be played with too.

    I don't know if I'll ever reach this nirvana, but the exercise will certainly influence my choices and discards in the future!

  3. What a great idea! I am planning to do something like this... soon.

  4. This has already motivated me and I have been sneaking toys away into bags...

  5. I plan to deal with toys in the coming weeks as well. I've already gotten rid of a bunch. :)

  6. It is quite amazing what you can do with a changed perspective...

  7. Great list - I'd add sandpit, paddling pool and other children

  8. Hi Deb,

    Absolutely - to keep it to 10 I excluded outside toys. Not that other children are outside toys. :-)

  9. I would add puzzles, my kids are addicted to Legs and puzzles. Go figure, I suppose they are similar.

  10. Hi Anon,

    We do own a number of puzzles in real life, but I wouldn't swap out any on my list of 10 for puzzles because puzzles only do one thing.

    I could also borrow puzzles from libraries and other sources.

    It's cool to consider all this!

  11. Pretend you HAVE to live in a shipping container within the next week, or a boat (we live on a boat), that will get you in the motivated mood quickly, and you will be able to prioritize the items QUICKLY without hesitation.... "If in doubt leave it out", is a moto I often used. :-) Good luck!

  12. We live in an rv, with 5 children. We have a tote that stores a basketball, 2 jumpropes, badminton racks. Then we have 2 bikes. We have a fainted with paper, scissors, crayons and glue. We also have a small set of building blocks. That's it.

    1. Thanks for your contribution!

      I always imagine that as your indoor space and entertainment toys reduce, you enjoy more of what the outside has to offer.

      Is that true, or am I fantasising?

    2. Yes! That is absolutely true! One of the best things about the rv is the closeness it bring us as a family as well.

  13. Just stumbled upon all of this info and minimal living stuff tonight.
    A few weeks ago we were on holiday. We took one bag of small toy characters. They were happy, shared and cared for them because that was all they had. Since being home the playroom is a mess and everywhere is filled with toys that are not cared for in a way that they could become broken etc... I am seriously thinking of clearing out all except maybe 10 different types of toys in a bid for a tidier calmer life...and then i may just follow on with the rest of the house.

    I don't know how easy it will be. I'm am not a 'visitor ready' house. EVER. It is one thing i wish for myself to change. I hope i can make a differnce with this!

  14. Good luck! Every time I go on holiday I feel the same way!

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  17. Thank you Jessica for this informative post, as a single mom i enjoy reading this. I want to add the Leap frog tablet too as a best toys for 2 year olds.