School Bus Conversion | A Minimalist Family Adventure

A Family of 5 Living on a Converted School Bus. We blog about skoolies, travel, family, and minimalism

Category: Minimalism

Does Your Tiny House Have Room For Toys?

OF COURSE IT DOES…but only the few that actually get played with. A question we get asked a lot is “where do your kids keep their toys?” In our previous house,…

OF COURSE IT DOES…but only the few that actually get played with.

A question we get asked a lot is “where do your kids keep their toys?” In our previous house, we had an entire room dedicated to playing. It was our “toy room”, and the kids rarely played in it. Instead, they enjoyed playing with boxes, bowls and the containers that held the toys more than the actual toys (proof below). They would dump all their toys out, get overwhelmed and ultimately end up back in the living room with us or outside playing.

I’ve read many articles written on people who live tiny with kids. Often there is feedback from internet trolls complaining about how kids “need their own room” and “need toys”. This is bogus! Kids all over the world live in one room homes with little to no toys and those kids are doing just fine.

These kids don’t have their heads in an iPad all day and they know how to find entertainment outdoors. Their only entertainment isn’t watching other kids play with toys on Youtube. They help their families with the work around the house and enjoy exploring, and getting dirty.

Although at some point when our traditional home is built, our kids will get their own room it will be a room meant for sleeping and for the resale of the house. The house will be built at moderate size and be built with simplicity in mind . It won’t be a place for them to constantly shut themselves away and separate from their family. They will have their own space, but our home will be built with the focus of being together and hosting.

So to answer the question, our kids keep their toys in their beds. They don’t have many and we are ok with that, but the few toys they do have they actually play with. If they don’t play with a toy it gets donated or thrown away. They naturally deal with the consequence of having too many toys because they are solely responsible for keeping their beds picked up and comfortable.

Here are our top three tips for keeping toys under control.

  1. Make kids clean up their own toys/rooms/beds, properly, not everything thrown into one bin or container. Sorted and put away properly. If they can’t do that then they have too much. A two year old doesn’t need 30 hot wheels cars, 4 different train tracks, 25 action figures, 4 bins of dress up clothes, etc. The younger they are the less they need, in my opinion. A few good quality wooden toys like Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube, few cars, dolls and some Duplo legos should do fine. Ill bet your kids won’t notice most of their toys are gone (ours didn’t) and those few things are easy to sort and organize.
  2. Teach your kids about other children who have less. I explained to mine that other kids could and would use their donated toys. Whether you donate to a local thrift store, a church, local gym, or a domestic violence shelter. Its good for them to realize its not going in the trash and what they are doing is kind. My youngest tries to give away her toys constantly because she loves the feeling of giving and it makes me so proud.
  3. Stop buying junk. Just because its on sale or is cheap doesn’t mean they should have it. The clearance toy aisle still calls me but on sale isn’t always better. I bought my kids RC cars because they were $10, originally priced at $40…well they broke within the first hour. The batteries cost me more than the cars did and now i know why!  My $10 could have gone towards getting ice cream or going to a movie instead. Not every good deal is a good deal.

I know that we are the extreme, living tiny, very few toys, 4 drawers of clothing for the entire family but if I knew then what I know now Id spend a lot less time organizing and much more time donating and throwing away toys.

 


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Downsizing – 5 Steps To Get Started

Before we knew our destiny of living minimally on a school bus, we were constantly “decluttering” our lives.  Every week I (Ashley) would single out a room, and tackle it….

Before we knew our destiny of living minimally on a school bus, we were constantly “decluttering” our lives.  Every week I (Ashley) would single out a room, and tackle it.  I would frequently day dream about the tiny containers that would fit perfectly within my bigger containers to organize my over cluttered life.  I spent more time thinking about it than actually working towards simplification. Downsizing was little more than just a pipe dream.

We had a 4 bedroom house with a pantry the size of my bus, two dining rooms and an enormous walk in master closet: all packed with my things. At one point I remember telling my husband “this house doesn’t have any storage!”. I laugh now looking back on the women I was.  So concerned with properly folded decorative towels and storage bins. I still am at times a princess about somethings but I have come so far! ::::patting myself on the back::::

I get asked a lot about how to start minimizing and decluttering so here I will share my top 5 tips.

  1. PRIORITIZE YOUR GOALS: Why are you wanting to simplify?  What are your goals? Things waste our time!  How often do you spend time looking for Tupperware lids, never to find the one you were looking for? Does cleaning your kids toys take more time than they actually spend playing with them? Life isn’t suppose to be spent organizing and cleaning things. If you choose to just keep cleaning things up, rather than simplify nothing will change. My “ahh ha moment” was standing at my kitchen sink while I was washing dishes and my child asked me to go swing with them.  I responded with “no, honey I need to finish the dishes”….WHAT?! Why are dishes more important than actually spending time with my kid? (Obviously I still wash dishes, and still have responsibilities around the bus, but they pale in comparison to what they used to). I was spending hours a day loading and unloading dish after dish from my dishwasher because I kept buying more and more dishes. I bought more clothes to satisfy my materialistic desires to be trendy rather than because I needed them. Which lead to more laundry, more folding, more stress and more mental over head. The fewer things you own the more your able to live the life you want.
  2. MAKE LISTS: I am a list maker. I find satisfaction in making long lists and checking off tasks as they are completed.  It also clears my mind to actually focus on the task at hand.  If you have too many things floating around in your brain nothing actually gets done. A large house full of organizing and decluttering sounds overwhelming which leads to failure.  Get out your pen and paper and start writing down the rooms, closets, dressers, junk drawers, cabinets etc. that are cluttering up your mind and your life. Figure out what is a reasonable timeline for yourself and aim for 1 room, drawer, cabinet whatever, per week. Start checking off those tasks and watch your list get completed!
  3. DONT QUIT: Decluttering isn’t fun.  Its incredibly tedious at times. I fought my boredom with audio books (mostly zombie fiction). I would start a book and not want to stop listening; it would keep me going for hours. The Girl With All The Gifts got me through my entire master bedroom, bathroom and closet! If you’re not into listening to books, 90’s hip hop is pretty motivating also. If you don’t know now you know! (RIP Biggie)
  4. NO MORE “JUST IN CASE”: Most of the clutter in our lives are the “just in case items”. We hang on to cords just in case, we keep those jeans just in case we lose 20 lbs, we keep that crystal pitchers just in case we throw a party. How often is the item actually used? Have you used it in the past year? If not get rid of it. If you can replace the item quickly and for under $20 its not worth cluttering your home with it.  Not quite ready to ditch it? Put the item in a box in the garage and if you use it within the next three months than keep it, if not wave goodbye!
  5. START….YEP GET STARTED: No more excuses, no more procrastination, no more “Im too busy”. I hate that excuse BTW because what you’re really saying is “its not a priority”.  Everyone makes time for the things that are a priority in their lives.
    So if you don’t have time…MAKE TIME.

Affiliate Link Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. We will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that we have experience with all of these companies/products, and we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something through them. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you in achieving your goals.
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