The short answer, of course, is that none of it is necessary. Kids have just as much fun with a cardboard box and a bit of string as they do with any plastic, light up, talking toy you could buy. Even so, I find it hard to suppress the consumer in me and forgo all the fun stuff. And once it's in the house it is well-loved. The problem I have currently is that there is so much of it. It is impossible to treat so many objects with care, to keep them neat and organized. Last night I was reading this page from Montessori World and this passage spoke to me:
Children of this age like order. They make a great effort to remember where everything is kept and to return things to their right places after using them. Making this effort is an exercise for the mind. The children need to be observant. They must memorize the environment. They must be aware when something is out of place. If the environment contains too many things, they cannot do this; there is too much to remember. If the environment is cluttered with materials, it is too confusing. There is too much choice and the children do not work well. In a good classroom, there is everything necessary for the development of the children using the room, but very little else.Obviously, if too many materials is confusing, too many toys would be just as confusing. If I barely know how to take care of them, how is my two year old supposed to know?
Clearing out the clutter will likely take me all week. Each pass through the house clears out more things, but I'm finding it very hard. Because everything has a story and a memory and a use... it's hard to let go.
While simplifying I always think of new ways to reorganize our space. I realized this morning that we need a new place for Ryann's books. The built-in shelves I'm using now would be better suited for toys and the books should have a more prominent place in the room. This means we need a new bookcase and even though I have made multiple pacts with myself to stop buying particle board furniture, I found myself perusing the Sauder knock-off isle at Target today. Particle board doesn't last as long or look as good and offgases more than real wood furniture, so why buy it? Because it's $20 a bookcase at Target, that's why, and it's hard to pass up! I kept my promise to myself today though, and decided to at least look at a couple second-hand places before buying another short term solution. And then I think, if I just followed through on decluttering I probably wouldn't need another bookcase at all.