“They already have so much sh*t!” Can I get a hand raise if you’ve uttered these exact words after the grandparents excitedly tell you what they’re getting Johnny for his half-birthday this year? And should half-birthdays even be a thing…?
So just when exactly did your home go from tidy, ready-for-that-Pinterest feature to a disastrous minefield of brightly colored toys that hurt a fricking LOT when stepped on? When you started having kids, that’s when.
Or how about this one?“But mom, if I don’t get that new[insert latest brand-named cheap plastic toy], I’ll like, actually die!”
Of course they won’t really die. They’ll just throw a temper tantrum in the middle of Target and you’ll pine for a large glass of rosè as you politely smile at the other families with carts full ofstuff.
You know as well as I do, mama: clutter just isn’t healthy. Clutter makes us grownups feel overwhelmed, and it’s no different for kids. Do you really want your already cranky toddler to be a cranky toddler who’s also overwhelmed and overstimulated? Answer: a resoundingno.
Ascending the soap box... “We need to live a more sustainable, more green, more crunchy, more…” Okay, you get it. It really just boils down to keeping life - and all the things - simple. And starting with your child’s playroom is an easy way to get started.
If you’re like me, you’ve gotta smuggle old or broken toys from the house like a drug mule under the cover of darkness. So while this may take just a bit of thoughtful planning and execution, Ipromiseyou it’s worth it. Here’s why decluttering and simplifying is soooo good:
WHY YOU SHOULD EMBRACE DECLUTTERING
- Decluttering will create a more serene environment for your kids. They’ll feel calm and like there is order in the universe! A bit dramatic, but true. Nap times will be a hell of a lot easier, too.
- Buying fewer plastic toys will be better for the environment. According to the Ocean Conservancy, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. Why? Because every year 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean. STOP 👏 BUYING 👏 PLASTIC 👏TOYS 👏. And politely request that your family and friends stop buying plastic-toys for your kids.
- Spending less money on #AllOfTheThings means more money to spend on family activities and outings. And happy memories always outweigh all the things.
- Toys and furniture made from plastic, aluminum, pressed wood, and other synthetic materials can off gas toxic chemicals in your home. Fewer toys means healthier indoor air. You can’t depend on the house plants (you forget to water anyway!) to keep your home’s air clean.
- What mom has time to clean up a playroom every. single. day? Not me, and I’m betting not you either. Fewer toys means less work for you, and a much higher likelihood that when you tell the kids to clean up the playroom in the five minutes before dinner is ready, it willactually happen.
- All that stuff I mentioned earlier? It can lead to a sensory overload for kids. Fewer toys means better focus. And better focus fosters independent learning. Shop our educational wooden toys to keep your little one entertained while developing their minds and motor skills.
- Want your kiddos to grow up without amust-keep-consuming mindset? Keeping their sheer number of toys to a minimum helps them understand and appreciate the value of the toys they do have.
Okay. Now that I’ve covered WHY you should embrace decluttering with open arms. Let’s get to the HOW.
SEVEN EASY WAYS TO GREEN AND SIMPLIFY YOUR CHILD’S PLAYROOM
Greening and simplifying your child’s playroom can be as easy as choosing the right furniture and emptying the toy box. Below I’m sharing my best suggestions on how to green and simplify your child’s playroom to promote a healthier environment for your little one.
I promise you, mama… There is no one way to go green or declutter. So take what works for you from the suggestions below and mix them with your own ideas.
Choose Solid Wood Furniture + Storage
Solid wood is extremely easy to clean and maintain and overall a way better option than plywood, veneer, or laminated boards. I love the fact that solid wood has a durability that allows for alteration over time. You can sand it, paint it, or stain it. You can update its edges and corners. You can literally turn a piece of solid wood into a brand new piece of furniture.
Remember that solid wood is also recyclable. It can become a new product altogether or if you give it time, it will decompose. Solid wood furniture and storage will not harm the earth unlike other semi-wood materials held together with glue and other chemicals.
If you’re unsure if a product is solid wood, check the marketing. If it’s not marketed as “solid wood”, then it’s probably not.
Choose 100% Cotton Rugs
I love a good rug. And when I mean good, I don’t mean cheap or aesthetically pleasing. I mean good for the home, good for the environment, and lovely to look at. When you’re rug shopping, try to choose 100% cotton rugs with non-toxic dyes over any polypropylene rugs.
Where should you shop for a new rug? Check out Lorena Canals. These awesome rugs can be cleaned easily (often machine washable) and they resist mildew (this is especially good for kids who are prone to allergic reactions to dust and mold). If you want some natural playroom styling inspo, consider checking out #LorenaCanals on Instagram.
Earth Friendly, Healthy Paints
If you’re going for a full playroom makeover and your walls could use a fresh coat of paint or two, I seriously recommend you choose a low-to-zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) paint brand. We’ve researched and used a lot of brands in our days, and our favorite by far is ECOS Paints. Their paints are non-toxic, odor free, and you won’t get a headache. Plus, each organic product is free of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
Seek Out USA Made Toys + Products
Okay, so “Made In The USA” doesn't automatically mean the toys or products are green in and of itself, but it will usually mean the production process and supply chain is shorter and more transparent so that it's easier for you to determine if their products are truly safe and non-toxic.
Eliminate Potential Sources of Lead Exposure
We all know by now that lead exposure is BAD, especially for children. So when you’re trying to green and simplify your child’s playroom, eliminating potential sources of lead exposure is a must.
Just a few examples of where lead can be found:
- Very old toys (especially ones with peeling paint)
- Cheapo plastic toy jewelry (sorry, Princess...)
- Plastic/aluminum cheap toys (like from vending machines or street fairs)
Empty The Entire Toy Box
Alright, here we go, my toy smuggling mama. Now unless you're a glutton for punishment, do NOT do this with your children present.
Put the kids to bed, pour a glass of wine, and take out EVERY. SINGLE. THING. in that bottomless toy box.
- If it's plastic, are parts cracked, worn out, or will it likely break soon?
- Do you see any paint peeling? (red flag for potential lead)
- Does your child(ren)actually play with it?
- Do you already own a similar toy?
Then make four piles:
- Throw away
Be ultra selective in choosing what goes back in. Try to leave that box no more than two-thirds full because they willwithout a doubtget more toys again soon. So leave some room for the toys-to-come.
I know, I know... you'd rather be watching your fave Netflix show. Me, too. But I promise that getting started is the hardest part. Just don’t think too long on any single item, make your decisions, and stick to them. Your children will love you regardless of what mysteriously disappeared while they were sleeping. And once you start emptying that box, the environment in your child’s playroom will instantly feel calmer.
Minimize The Multi-Piece Toy Sets
Let’s be real. How many times have you collected all the pieces from a set off the floor? Or do you ever find one random piece in the laundry room, another in the silverware drawer, and before you know it you've reached your Fitbit goal for the day tracking down these pieces?
If your childreallyloves the multi-piece toy set I’m talking about right now, you’ll probably want to keep it around regardless of the steps you take in gathering the pieces daily… My best tip? Make sure it has its own designated storage solution and make sure your child knows to put the pieces back or else it might disappear across the border one day.
And the next time you or Nana is looking for that special something to teach sorting and building skills, choose a high quality, non toxic toy that comes with it’s own storage. Our wooden shape sorting toy is beloved by kiddos, and mamas love that it comes with a USA-made, organic cotton drawstring bag to keep the pieces together. Or consider our monogrammed toy crate for easily storing wooden letter and number blocks. Bonus: built-in handles mean even your toddler can carry his crate of blocks back to its proper storage spot after playtime. Three cheers for EASE!
As you start the process of simplifying your child’s playroom, setbacks are bound to occur. You likely won’t get it all done in one weekend; I mean unless you’re hiding out in a locked closet right now, your toddler interrupted you at least five times when you were reading this.
It’s a given that despite your best efforts, they’ll soon see yet another ad for that new set of tiny plastic dolls with an excessive number of small (painful-when-stepped-on) accessories. And yes, family members and friends will inevitably still want to buy your kids all the types of things you just got rid of. For tips on combating the plastic-gift-givers in your circle, check out my quick read on how to politely request plastic-free toys.
Once you've minimized, check out advice from these experts on designing the ultimate playroom for your family.
Doing just a few of these things will go a long way. And you’ll feel better knowing you’re doing your part to keep your child safe and healthy, and your family’s environmental footprint in check. Now go forth and BE GREEN!
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