1.24.2014

{life} decluttering - G's toys edition

If you follow MaMeMima on facebook, you had probably noticed I've been posting some interesting articles about kids and toys. I've always been a firm believer in less is more {not only in the toys department but in almost all areas of life. I have to admit, though, I don't always put my mantra in practice}. Since becoming a mom and dealing with an incoming flow of toys, baby gear, more toys, school papers and more knick-knacks I've hold onto that principle even harder and I've really tried to apply it. I constantly organize and purge the boys clothes, school papers and of course toys. However, I think my desire to provide for my children and pampered them was a little stronger. I'm not sure how but I let the first floor of our home became a pre-school classroom. Literally.
 
This came to my attention some weeks ago. Exactly at the beginning of the new year when G brought home a horrible stomach bug, and one by one, each of us got sick. I was lucky my case was not that severe, but that meant the four of us were home for almost four days in a row {I'm surprised we survived, really}. Since the kids were home all day, for all those days and I wasn't feeling my best, I didn't even bother to pick up toys or straighten up the house. After the fifth day when we were all feeling much better, kids went to school and M to work, I stayed home, and no matter which room I was in, they all looked like a toy explosion just happened. What have I done?

 
You see, I purposely let toys in every room on the first room of our house. In the kitchen, in the living room, in the hall and the dining room {we even transformed the dining room into a playroom at some point}. I thought that by adapting our home to the kids, especially G's since he's younger, needs to play I was doing a good thing.  Of course I didn't just throw toys everywhere. I put baskets in each room for toys to be put away. I put the train table as a coffee table in the living room, in the dining room I filled two big bookcases with toys, puzzles and art supplies and the play kitchen was in the hall. My reasoning was that G should have tools to play, explore and discover everywhere. It was also easier to supervise him this way while doing house chores and easier to entertain when we have play dates. We do have a family/playroom but on another floor, so having him closer was easier in many ways. The clean-up part was not really a problem because G {when prompted} has been so good at picking up his toys and putting them back in their place {something I have to thank to his daycare teachers}. However I started to notice that G would jump from one toy to another in matter of seconds. He would get bored easily despite the one hundred toys out there. He has a couple of favorites, but he would still wandered around the house, sometimes I feel, not even knowing what to choose. He would end up in the kitchen playing with the Tupperware!

70% of the toys and books G has were hand-me-downs. M kept most of L's toys {like the train table and all the trains} and so I justified giving them all to G because they were not new, they were hand-me downs {which he received from his cousins as well}. All that plus all the new toys G receives from generous family and friends on special occasions {which I try to let him have one at a time}, well we were swimming in toys.
I've been collecting toys to donate for a while. But just then I knew I had to do a better purge. I always want to do what's best for my children which sometimes may contradict my inner desire of spoiling them and giving them everything they want. To be honest I have no idea how many toys is too many toys {that's when I did some research and found some interesting approaches to this subject}.  At the end, there is no right or wrong answer. I felt I just had to do what works for my family. Even though tempted, I was not going to take away all of G's toys {although I'm very curious about his reaction}. But I had to cut them down at least by half {or a little more}.

I spend a whole week, one hour here, one hour there, while G napped, while the kids were asleep, collecting toys and putting them in three piles: broken/toss, donate and keep. We chose to donate to G's daycare class so he could still enjoy some of his toys for a little longer but they will also be enjoyed by his friends and more kids in the future {I was very glad when we came in one morning and saw the kids playing with the Little People we just donated he day before}. The keep pile I divided in two. I left out some of G's favorites {trains}, more educational choices, like music instruments, blocks, and puzzles and lots of books and art supplies {those are kept out of reach so G doesn't make a mess}. I organized the rest of the toys by size, type and age, put then in containers and plastic bags, labeled them and put everything into a big box to be put in the attic. I won't donate those for now. But I plan to rotate the toys that are out once G starts showing signs of getting tired of his current options. The contents of the two bookcases in the dining room were reduced to just one {and soon  there should be no longer a toys bookcase in there because we are planning to move it to G's new big boy room}. I kept the train table in the living room for now and moved the play kitchen to the kitchen.

Now it's easier for G to keep up the good work at cleaning up and not being overwhelmed by toys. I'm pretty sure he hasn't even noticed half his toys were taken away. The first floor looks almost like a normal home again and it's easier to keep rooms tidy and presentable.
This was just the first part. I knew I had to do the same with L's things. Since he's older we expect him to keep toys to his room and the playroom. But that doesn't happen most of the time. Lego pieces and cards are found everywhere. But what's more concerning, he hardly plays with 80% of the toys he has. A second big purge was in order.

How do you control the amount of toys your kids have?

2 comments :

  1. NIce! We already stopped ourselves from buying another Little People contraption today because M already has too many toys. I try to rotate them on an every-few-days basis and only put a few things out at a time. When she's a bit older, we're going to have her help pick things out to donate to others so that she understands and learns how that can be a good thing.

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    1. Yes, making them part of the purge process I think it's a great idea. G is still too little so I made the decisions for him but I asked L to fill a bag with all the toys he doesn't want or play with anymore. I was surprised at the big bag he gave me!

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