It had been only two days since Ruth Soukup had re-organized her daughters’ room, and there were still a few toys on the floor that her kids, then three and six years old, refused to pick up. “I would say to the girls, ‘If you can’t take care of your stuff, I’m going to have to take it all away,’” Soukup recalls. It was an empty threat, until that afternoon when Soukup realized she genuinely “wanted it all gone.”
Very calmly, Soukup started taking everything except for furniture out of their room and amassing their toys into a gigantic pile.
She took away all their dress-up clothes, baby dolls, Polly Pockets and stuffed animals, all of their Barbies, building blocks and toy trains, right down to the furniture from their dollhouse and play food from their kitchen. She even took the pink Pottery Barn Kids comforter from their bed.
Her kids stared at her. Soukup was surprised, too. She couldn’t believe how much stuff had amassed in her home, especially in lieu of her recent efforts to donate, de-clutter and organize.
“It was a shock, kind of,” Soukup says. “I thought, ‘What are we doing with all this stuff? How could I let that much stuff come into my house?’”
She was also stunned at what happened next.
Soukup had expected crying and wailing and protesting from her kids, but they were unfazed by the ordeal. They resolved to play without toys, saying, according to Soukup, “That’s okay, Mommy, we can just use our imaginations.”
– Are toys integral to child development or do they hinder creativity? Gina Ciliberto talks to parents who adopted a minimalist approach to gift-giving and child-rearing at Narratively.