So you want to gather up all the toys you have, toss them, and go out and buy a bunch of super expensive Montessori toys? Let’s not panic! Just grab a cup of tea or coffee, and let’s figure out a plan together!
Look, let’s be candid here for a minute. I have spent a lot of time going back and forth about whether or not to write such an article, especially after the Perfect Montessori Parent article I wrote. I don’t want to stress you out or give you the impression that you need to out and buy tons of new, expensive wooden materials.
I absolutely can promise you that if you have some plastic toys, some battery operated toys, if you even let your child use a tablet or phone, that Maria Montessori is not secretly glaring at you from Heaven. Really, she’s not.
Don’t Panic. Let’s Plan!
So where to go with all of this information? First of all – spend a day or two just thinking about it. Think about:
- What is your child into right now? What is she or he naturally drawn to at the moment?
- Observe and write down what you noticed above.
Let’s Use Kon-Mari
In order to create a Montessori play space, it is important to take inventory of what you have at home. It may be necessary to remove some materials from your space. I wouldn’t just start throwing away toys, however.
In my home, we have been using the Kon Mari method of organizing and tidying up to really reduce our possessions and adapt more of a minimalist lifestyle. This has been very helpful to getting a peaceful, more relaxed home.
When it comes to decluttering, I highly, highly recommend reading “Life-changing Magic” by Marie Kondo.
How to Choose What Stays
First, I do want to make a small note. Depending on the age of your child, it is very, very important to involve them in this process. Even though you can go through more materials alone, this is a sign of respect towards your children. Please, do not just take away their belongings in the night or while they are away.
Start by gathering all, yes ALL of your child’s toys into one space. Get every last one of them!
Marie Kondo advises that you choose which items to keep based on whether the item sparks joy. Because we are seeking to create a Montessori play space, there are a few other things I like to think about when it comes to choosing our toys.
Take away materials that definitely do not fit your child’s interests, their age, are broken, or have missing parts. Next, think about these questions:
- Do you love this item? Does your child love it? Do your children get joy from this toy?
- Does the toy/material enrich your child’s life?
- How does your child use it? Why?
If the material isn’t per se Montessori friendly, but is something that your child really uses, enjoys, and you feel it is appropriate for your child then keep it!
If the material isn’t being used, but could become useful later, consider storing it for later, but don’t keep it out to clutter up your environment. If you do remove it for storing, don’t forget about it – otherwise, you’d be better off selling it.
What to Donate
Donate the rest that is whole and is not broken. Toss the broken stuff and toys with missing pieces.
I know it’s hard to get rid of toys. In today’s day, many of us are so lucky to have family and friends that give our children gifts, but you are doing no one a favour keeping extra clutter in your home.
If the materials do not fit your lifestyle, it’s okay not to keep them, but to donate them to someone who would benefit from them. For birthdays, I tend to very politely ask relatives either to get Y books or something specific he asks for. When I attend a children’s party, I also try to ask the parents what their children want or at least what the parents certainly don’t want. It’s just courtesy, I think.
After Removing the Unnecessary Materials
Place back a small amount of materials. Put the rest out of rotation. Place back only a handful of materials to prevent your child from being overwhelmed. Avoid overstimulation and keep fewer materials out at one time.
Please visit my friend Amruta’s amazing videos to learn more about the toy decluttering process.
Download your free Decluttering Checklist!
Still feeling overwhelmed? It’s okay, I’m right there with you! I totally understand because toys are a constant struggle in my home. Honestly, it takes a while to figure out what works and probably by the time you figure it out, it only lasts a bit before the kids move on to the next phase and you need to navigate that.
More Montessori Home Ideas?