this stuff is part of our lives and we use it and often it makes our lives a bit easier. until it doesn't, because most times it disconnects us from one another because the stuff needs to be managed and tamed.
a few years ago my husband was on a roll with living minimally with his side of things in our house. he's always had a knack for not getting much more than he needs to live with. but i am not. and having a toddler (at the time) didn't really allow for minimalism, i thought. i was very impressed with his pursuit and accomplishment, and so i tried. and got rid of a lot of stuff and for awhile i really thought about what i bought before i bought it (you'd think that would be a given, but i buy it and then usually think about it). it was good. i'm glad for that. there are a few things that have stuck. overall, i really like organization and i like purging the unused from our house. but then i usually like to replace those things with new things.
we also moved over seas which REALLY complicates the having stuff issue. we have stuff in 3 different parts of the world, and i mean major piles of stuff. but we live in 3 parts of the world from time to time. all that to say, it can be hard to downsize when you need things for a family of 4 while spending time in different locations. but it makes it so much easier if things are downsized.
but our primary home is in doha, qatar and this is what i was focused on. and what i was focused on the most was the accumulation of toys stuff. toys aren't bad. too many useless toys are bad. i started using a critical eye and boxed and gave away about half of the toys. and with the other half, i put away in the toy library to be cycled out from time to time.
the day after i downsized (the first time, because i also downsized a second time yesterday), the girls really seemed more content and played more harmoniously. i also wanted them to learn to play with what they had and if they didn't have it, to create it. this is play and childhood: discovery and creativity and mindfulness. sure, they have a sofia the first doll and a few princess dolls, etc. but i've also pulled out the blocks and the tinker toys to encourage manipulation and imagination. fewer toys, and more purposeful toys allows them to settle back into a more rooted childhood where the "slow, essential unfolding of self" occurs. (23)
even though most of the purging was with the toys, i also went through a lot of our clothes and other household items to give away.
when we live with less physical stuff in our homes, it seems like there is room to relax and just be. i don't feel so distracted or worried about the mounds of toys that will need to be cleaned up before bed. this is a process, like with most things. it's a life commitment which means continually learning. but even in this first act of downsizing the stuff, i believe we have ushered in a sense of simplicity that will slowly saturate other aspects of our lives.