Monday, March 11, 2013

Putting the Toys Out of Reach

 I can recall a time I wanted more toys.  Not for me - but for my delightful little sweetheart who was always clinging to my legs.  Without any siblings to play with I was her only companion.  I had hopes that if we had enough toys I might once again be able to wash the dishes.

 A great way to keep Chloe entertained :)

Things have changed since that day. 

I now have three children who play with each other and keep each other occupied.  And I've discovered to my dismay . . .


Way too many.  Like piles and piles too many.  Over the last year and a half or so I have been trying to downsize our toys but find that it is like trying to ride a bike uphill.  They have birthdays.  They receive gifts at Christmas.  We find great deals at yard sales.  And some toys are really great to keep.  They do serve a purpose and I just can't quite get rid of them.  It doesn't help that we are now homeschooling and there are so many wonderful educational toys I have my eyes on.

But really, when I think about it and try to not let my mother's heart be swayed with "my kids would have so much fun with this", I realize that the less toys they have, the happier they play.  The happier we all are.  There is less to clean up.  Less to organize.  More room for imagination and creative play.  I once saw a blog that had pictures of a beautifully set up toy room.  This room had it ALL.  Toys and crafts lined the walls in a very organized and orderly way.   It was like a dream.  For a few seconds I thought how wonderful that might be.  But I am also realistic enough to remember that I struggle greatly with maintaining order and organization.  Keeping on top of messes is beyond my natural abilities.  I have to make an effort and am learning more all the time about what it takes to keep a house from complete chaos.  I have a feeling that a room like that in my house would be a constant source of frustration and despair.  And I also believe that while it might be fun for the parent and the child to have access to so many wonderful toys and crafts and ways of creative playing, it is no substitute for having less.  I think that having too much can be a crutch for a child.  Less means they have to be more creative.  More imaginative.  They learn to share.  I have been tempted at times to purchase three of something just so we don't have fighting - and while this is fine for some things like the hockey sticks they all got last Christmas, it isn't necessary for a lot of things and gives them great opportunities to learn compromise and wait their turn.
I love the creative ways they come up with to entertain themselves! They thought
of adding rubber bands to the puzzle for a guitar - and anything can 
become a mik :)

So while I have gotten rid of a lot of their toys there are others that I still want to keep.  But the amount of toys we had was driving me to extreme distraction.  Mess all the time.  Everywhere!  Trying to stay on top of the cleanup was just too much for me.  My children are still small and while they are getting better at cleaning up it is still mostly me who does it.  And if I'm not actually doing it, I'm standing there directing and ensuring that they are doing it.   And then I decided.  NO MORE!

We have a closet downstairs that now probably has over half of the kids toys.  They have some in their room and some downstairs to play with - but the toys in the closet are off limits.  They have to ask if they want something and lots of times the answer is "no".  It is a special treat to get those toys.  Most of the time they actually forget that they're there and don't ask.  Often if they clean everything else up they are allowed to get something out.  And then on those days when we're a little stir crazy we pull something out of the closet and it's like the toy is brand new!  It's wonderful!  It has saved my sanity, I am sure of it! Sometimes we'll trade things around and put toys that they're not as interested in in the cupboard and take something else out that they can have for a while.  I've noticed that they play so much better.  Before they would just take a toy out and not really play with it, they would just scatter them all over the house.  Now when we take toys out they play with them and it's fun for them and easier to clean up.  

My house still gets messy.  There are moments when I'm sure we're in complete chaos.  It's still hard to get the kids to clean up.  But it's way better than it used to be and I'm so thankful!

Besides . . . who needs tons of toys to play with when there's socks to put on?

1 comment:

  1. Seems all those bags of toys I hid away haven't been missed yet!! I think I will get rid of some of those and do the rotating thing too. Some of the toys are nice and fun, and I just can't sell them all. I have really enjoyed not having as much thrown all over the house, the kids appreciate me not always nagging them to clean up! :)


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