One Year. One Toy.

It all started with a box.

I’m sure it originally hauled a month’s supply of diapers, or paper towels, or something equally unexciting that my delivery-man-who-knows-me-by-name dropped off from the gigantic online shopping site that regrets giving me free shipping.

The kids asked if they could play with it. Sure.

It stayed in our family room for a month. It was a house, a hospital, a car, a train. It got decorated for Christmas. It was slept in, fought in, sang in and ate in. It entertained my kids more than any other toy I can think of.

It got me thinking about how less is more. About how toys like this

spark more creativity and imagination than anything that lights up or turns on. I looked around at the battery-operated, singing, electronic toys that are cluttering our house after the holidays. They’re only a few weeks old, and they’re already collecting dust.

I don’t know if it was a coincidence or if it was part of a subconscious cleansing act, but on New Year’s Day, I woke up and wanted all of the junk out of the house. I started tossing loose pieces, selling unused toys and organizing what was left. It was a fresh start.

I started thinking about the year ahead and our planned move to New York City. Yep. The six of us are moving from the Northern California ‘burbs into one tiny Manhattan apartment this summer. There’s not going to be room for all of this stuff. But, I realized, that’ll be just fine. When the kids have nothing to do, they turn blankets into forts, pillowcases into ghost costumes and spoons into instruments.

And, I started thinking, “What if we don’t bring any toys to New York?” It could be my own little social experiment. We’re only going to be living there for a year, so I can try it out and see what happens.

But, then I realized I don’t want to punish myself, so maybe instead of none, I’ll let each kid bring one. They each get to pick out their favorite toy, we’ll bring only our most-read books and we’ll simplify life in every way. Who knows, maybe it will be our new way of life?

I brought it up to the kids, and instead of arguing with me, they each announced what they want to bring with them. Here’s what they picked.

A Star Wars ship, a princess castle, a toy stroller and an Otteroo (ok, fine, I picked Booker’s toy out for him).

So, that’s my plan. And, now that I wrote it on the Internet, I have to follow through. I’ll be sure to check back in with you to let you know how it went.

Did you simplify for the New Year? Could your house use a de-cluttering? Or, how did you start the New Year with a fresh start? Share your story with us!

Julie Forbes

Julie Forbes

Julie Kroenig Forbes graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She spent the next 10 years working as a news anchor and reporter in various cities, most recently in Nashville, Tennessee. After a few years in Northern California and New York, she now lives in Ohio with her husband and four kids.
Julie Forbes