If you feel like your kids' toys have taken over your house, then you're not alone. The struggle is real.
One fed-up Arkansas mum decided to take matters into her own hands - giving away most of her children's toys and reclaiming her life in the process.
Mother-of-four Allie Casazza, who blogs at The Purposeful Housewife, told Essential Kids that three years ago, a feeling of "total over overwhelm" prompted her to take action.
"I was living every day in survival mode," she says, "and I wasn't okay with that being my story." Suffering from severe depression, Ms Casazza says that life was "tough and dark".
"All I did was clean up and stress out."
Ms Casazza turned to the kids' playroom, the room she called "the bane of her existence" and began to de-clutter. She held on to some of her kids' "open-ended" toys such as Lego and train tracks, as well as the toys her children really loved.
The rest, however, were given away.
See that bin? That holds every toy my kids have, except Legos, and it's only about halfway full. This isn't to show how hardcore we are or to say that you have to do this to experience the fullness of a life lived intentionally with less stuff, but only to say that kids are naturally happy little creatures. They're made to imagine, play, explore, and create. If you remove everything they've been told to stay entertained with, they will complain for a few days, but pretty soon their God-given imaginations will breathe a deep sigh and be brought to life again. They'll discover the beauty in making up stories and acting them out together, of finding bugs and naming them Hubert (Bella's grasshopper), and of forming a strong bond uninterrupted by noisy toys that do all the playing for them. It's a beautiful exchange- junk for life. I'm never going back and I'll spend my life spreading this message. 💕 #minimalism #childhoodunplugged
And doing so, she says, saved "my motherhood and my marriage".
For Ms Casazza, family life changed for the better - almost overnight. "I'm freed up in every way," she says. "My time, my attitude, my relationship with my kids and my husband and I, just got lighter after purging."
But what did her kids think?
Ms Casazza admits she was surprised by the lack of temper tantrums. Instead, she says her children were just happy she'd cleaned out the playroom.
"Kids are so easily pleased," she says. "We don't give them enough credit. They played for hours that day. I had to pull them out."
Ms Casazza describes that her brood, aged 7,5, 4 and 2 are just happy to be. "We tell ourselves they need a bunch of toys to be happy," she says.
After the toy purge, Ms Casazza moved through the rest of the house, starting with dishes and laundry. "That made a massive difference in my daily time," she says.
This man! He has not only kept and cared for our four babies on his own the past few days, but homeschooled them like a friggin rockstar (umm he drew a map of the entire US on the black board and mapped out the journey West from Little House on the Prairie. Like who does that??), taken them out on errands, voted with them in tow, cooked them healthy meals, detailed the house for me, and stripped the floor from our camper. He rocks parenthood better than anyone I know, and that beard just ties it all together. 😉 Cannot wait to see my herd tomorrow! // photo by @beautyofgracephotos
The difference de-cluttering has made to her life – and how it saved "her motherhood" –is the subject of a viral blog post Ms Casazza authored for The Balanced Life.
"Mums are having this light bulb moment of 'I don't have to clean up all the time,'" she says of the response to her post. "And it's great."
In the blog, Ms Casazza writes that she "thought motherhood was going to mean I'd get to enjoy my kids." And yet, she reflects, in amongst all the housework, the piles of laundry, dishes and toys, "I never spent time truly with them."
Having adopted a more minimalist life, Ms Casazza continues to reap the benefits – spending less time managing the house and even opting to home school her kids.
And her depression has lifted, too.
No longer simply surviving, Ms Cassazza notes of the change, "This was abundant life in motherhood; I could feel it."
She now firmly believes that mothers need minimalism more than anyone else.
"Minimalism is less cleaning, it's the joy of always being ready for company to drop by without stressing out, it's more free time to focus on your priorities, it's enjoying your home rather than being owned by it, it's being able to be a mom who plays rather than a mom who's always cleaning up, it's being a happier person."
To learn more visit: www.thepurposefulhousewife.com/free-minimalism-guide-toolkit-download