Play-Based Minimalism with Emily Russo

Our mission for our Interview Series is to hear from other moms that believe in play-based learning but also attracted to a minimalist lifestyle. To us, “play-based minimalism” is about believing that children should be given the opportunity to play in an environment that is designed for learning and imaginative play but free of physical and “commitment” clutter.

There is a Waldorf Education Philosophy that believes that a child’s education should be focused on the whole child- Head, Hands and Heart. We believe that this philosophy should be applied to each member of the family, and the home itself.

We are honored that Emily is willing to share the Head, Hands and Heart of a minimalist mom that encourages play-based learning. Emily is a joyful mom to two little ones, Ezra(3) and Priya(1) and a loving wife to Joel. They live in Ohio, but I wish they were my neighbors because her party planning skills are on point!

How has “play-based minimalism” helped you as a mom?
“Play based minimalism as a mom has been life changing. My children play so much better, more peacefully and for longer periods of time when they are not lost in a sea of toys. There is also less clean up which is nice because I spend less time cleaning and more time with my family.”
What is your philosophy of play?
“I wouldn’t say I have a “philosophy” of play but I do want it to be relaxed and open ended. We try to focus on Montessori methods in our home so our children while playing are learning but also gaining independence in the activities they do during the day.” 
What is your best piece of advice for parents designing their child’s play space or bedroom?
“I don’t have much advice because I myself am still learning, but one thing I have learned that is worth sharing is that it can be tempting to want play to meet a certain expectation we have in our minds but I’ve had a lot more success letting my children play with what interests them and then the learning just comes naturally at that point. It’s much less stressful to let them take the lead and show you what interests them and then use that opportunity to slip in play based learning. We also try to not buy toys that only have one function (battery operated tend to be like this) but that serve as many purposes as their imagination can come up with. It has made a world of difference to have a play room full of open ended toys! “
What is your favorite toy for young learners?
“We’ve got a lot of favorites but if I had to pick one it would be our Melissa and Doug rainbow stacker. That thing gets SO much love here! It’s great because it’s very versatile. All while playing my 1 year old is working on fine motor skills trying to stack them and if my 3 year old is playing with it he’s working on fine motor skills but also on shapes, colors and counting.”
What atmosphere does “play-based minimalism” create in your home? 
“My home has felt more peaceful since we have implemented a minimalistic mentality. Physical clutter is mental clutter and it’s amazing to see how much better my children play in atmosphere that is free from clutter. It’s also made us appreciate quality over quantity. It’s easy to fall into the trap of consumerism so it is important to let our children know it’s not the quantity of things you own but the quality of play, relationships etc that matter.”
Follow along with Emily’s play-based minimalist life on Instagram  and show her some #playbasedminimalism love!

2 Comments on Play-Based Minimalism with Emily Russo

  1. Ashley
    June 30, 2017 at 5:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Wonderful interview series. I look forward to reading more!

    • natbabbitt
      July 27, 2017 at 5:59 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you, new one is being posted right now 🙂


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