kids

The mum who threw out her all kids’ toys. And she says she has never been happier.

Like many homes Allie Casazza’s was filled to the brim with toys. Drawers spilling out with dolls. Stuff everywhere. Blocks and dump trucks. Puzzles and Barbies.

“A $150 light-up unicorn no one played with.”

“Bins overflowing with stuff.”

“I had this huge room in my house, dedicated to toys,” she told ABC News.

Allie and her four kids. Image supplied.

But it was making her stressed.

Allie, a mother of four from Arkansas in the US, says she was constantly cleaning it, putting stuff away, just to keep herself sane.

“I’d send the kids into the playroom and they’d dump out a few things. They’d be back moments later, saying they were bored and asking for snacks," she said.

She says every day she’d wait longing for naptime and bedtime.

Survival mode.

“I didn’t enjoy [my kids]. They were a bother to me…I thought that was ‘just the way it was.'”

Allie says she wasn't enjoying motherhood. Image supplied.

One particularly stressful day, in a move that most of us can relate to, she locked herself in her bathroom while her kids, Bella, 7, Leland, 5, Hudson, 4, and Emmet, 2 were napping.

She knew it was time to work out exactly why she was so anxious.

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“I was having this meltdown. I was stressed all the time. I thought, ‘This is not where I want to be.’ In that moment, I decided to break down what it was that wasn’t working,” she told Scary Mommy

The stuff.

It was chaos and clutter. The mess. The constant tantrums and fighting over toys.

So she threw it all out.

Allie's children now just have this one box of toys. Image supplied.

Well, not all of it Allie explains.

She asked them what they wanted to keep and put it all into one small plastic bin, and kept a separate one for Lego (cause you know, its LEGO.)

“All of their toys fit into that bin.”

That’s four children and one bin of toys.

Allie's one bin of toys. Image Supplied.

The results she says were instant.

While she feared complaints from her kids she says they were excited. Overnight she says things changed.

“I had been so resentful of my husband, telling him, ‘you have no idea what I go through all day,’ but after the toys were gone I immediately felt lighter. I had so much less stress," she said.

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

A photo posted by Allie Casazza (@allie_thatsme) on

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She told Good Morning America her four kids are now “exceptionally close”.

What they now do, she said, is use their imaginations to make up games with things as simple as a broomstick.

“That’s all they do all day. Together. There’s no more ‘I was playing with that,’" she said, “because they don’t have those things anymore.”

Of course, not everyone is happy with her solution. Allie says she has received backlash from strangers on the Internet telling her she is selfish and that she is depriving her kids, but she says they have no idea.

“I did for me,” she says.

“The reason I did this was because my kids were suffering from their mum being depressed. We’re all happier now, and my kids are thriving.”

It’s a common problem.

Clutter elevates our stress levels. Image via IStock.

A 2012 study from UCLA’s Center on the Everyday Lives of Family showed that managing the amount of clutter in a house “was such a crushing problem in many homes that it actually elevated levels of stress hormones for mothers.”

Jean Arnold, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles told Boston.com that mothers who describe their home offices, bedrooms, and pantries as “complete disaster zones” had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who identified their spaces as restful and spacious.

“We were able to identify a troubling health trend,” said Professor Arnold.

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“The physiological stress that occurs among women who see their homes as cluttered may have some long-term health consequences.”

Go on any Facebook group for mums and you will see a constant chatter about storage and organisation, about systems and simply how to manage all the stuff you accumulate.

It’s something we all want to overcome but not many of us know how.

Work breaks aren't for folding laundry. They're for jumping on the pile and teaching the baby bad habits. ???? #wahmlife

A photo posted by Allie Casazza (@allie_thatsme) on

Except Allie.

Allie says that after the success of her own experience she decided to help others and started up a website The Purposeful Housewife.

On the site she says that once she got rid of her stuff she felt “lighter”.

“I finally shook my depression and it never came back. I had more free time, I was actually enjoying and playing with my kids, I was happier, I was fulfilled, I was able to serve my family and be the best version of myself.”

Did you know we have a parenting podcast? Join Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright every week to discuss every aspect of family life on This Glorious Mess. It's the perfect podcast for non-perfect parents. Listen to the latest episode here:

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