Play-based Minimalism: Natasha

Our mission for our Interview Series is to hear from parents 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.

It seems odd to highlight myself on the play-based minimalism series, but I have been asked many times to share my answer to these questions, so here it goes!

How has “play-based minimalism” helped you as a mom?
“Minimalism was a journey that my husband and I began prior to having our daughter. We felt pulled to make some changes, and each step brings us closer to the inner peace that we were craving. Our goal is to allow our children to flourish in an environment of calm, joy and intention. Play-based minimalism has helped me dedicate my time to playing and observing, rather than cleaning and organizing. It has given us the gift of free time as a family and the privilage to live a debt-free (minus mortgage) life. Minimalism and the practice of essentialism, truly makes me a better mom. I am more mindful of choices, mindful of my words and mindful of my actions because my mind is not cluttered like it used to be. This opens up so much time for joy and play!”
What is your philosophy of play?
“It is difficult to find a subject that I am more passionate about than play. I believe that giving children time for free play is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. My style of play is most similar to Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf style, where the emphasis is on imagination and learning through whimsy, with an emphasis on delaying academics. That being said, I also am a huge early literacy promotor and love seeing books come alive through play so I am drawn to Charlotte Mason’s teachings. “
What is your best piece of advice for parents designing their child’s play space or bedroom?
“I believe that play spaces should encourage imaginative play. This is my number one when looking at a play-space. Do the children have room to release their creativity? Do they have access to toys that are open-ended and offer many different play scenarios? I believe that natural materials like wood should be integrated into the play-space because it grounds the children and exposes them to more advanced textures and energy. Even with minimal toys, children have the urge to sort, fill, empty and organize. I make sure that there are baskets and bags for this critical play skill, even if the baskets remain empty when not in use.”

What is your favorite toy for young learners?
“My top three are blocks, baby dolls and fake food. These are three toys that remain out at all times for our daughter. They are used on a daily basis in different forms. The blocks may be parts of a house, phones, chairs or hats. That food may be set up for a birthday party, shared with a doll or thrown in the shopping cart on an urgent shopping trip. I am also loving our new Wave Board! This toy is the ultimate open-ended toy. It is amazing for sensory integration, movement and soothing. But it is also a beautiful piece that becomes a bridge that angry trolls live under, a slide for dinosaurs and a rocker for baby dolls. “
What atmosphere does “play-based minimalism” create in your home? 
“Minimalism in itself creates an atmosphere of intention. We are not stark minimalists, so we feel that our style allows us feel the calm embrace of intention without the harshness of a sterile environment. With less stuff, and less commitments, we are able to use our time the way we want to- hiking, reading, cooking, visiting parks and playgrounds and eating locally. I am a Type A Virgo, but have such a love for play and free time. Minimalism allows me to be content and organized while still enjoying and living my life. It is such a blessing. “
Follow along with our series on Instagram, #playbasedminimalism.

1 Comment on Play-based Minimalism: Natasha

  1. Debbie
    September 29, 2017 at 1:00 am (2 years ago)

    Love that you unestand the importance of a play-based childhood. Play is work for the youngest!! Plenty of time for technology and clutter later. Yes to books, blocks, babies, and play food. Less is totally more!! Thank you for sharing your philosophy and experiences as a mom. The world needs more Natalies!!!!!!!


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