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the ongoing clutter battle, kids edition

I was completely inspired by this story:
I took all my kids' toys away

In the story the mom kinda snaps because her kids have 1) too many toys and 2) can't go anywhere without them whining about the next thing they're going to GET to take home. Like hey seriously, you're at a restaurant surrounded by dinosaurs, that's awesome! Why are you so focused on the gift shop?

She writes in the post that once the toys were gone, the kids played hide-and-seek, made forts, loved their space... basically, they survived.

I haven't taken away all josie's toys. but I'm temped. and I've been much better about the clearing out.

I've always rotated toys. I read long ago that babies little developing brains loved seeing new things, but that didn't mean you had to buy new things all the time. a toy that's been hidden away for a few weeks? new! old toy in a different room? new!

so periodically I would bring up a plastic bin full of toys from the basement, empty it into toy shelves, and fill it full of toys that were up there. If Christmas or a birthday was coming, I'd sneak toys away for a few weeks before too, so the shelves had some space ready to go on them.

but it's not perfect because toys still seem to regenerate, or reproduce, or something. we have totally goodwilled toys.

I want to garage sale a bunch too but that will have to be really sneaky.

josie's memory keeps getting better and better. we were at the library and she picked out some book that I didn't want to take home, this'll sound awful but it was just way too long to read in a casual setting, it was about elephants or something but might as well have been "war & peace: for toddlers!" given the word count. so after we had our PILE of books we were taking home I snuck that one out before checkout. SHE KNEW. she checked the bag when we got in the car!

when she was tiny, we'd let her throw stuff in the cart but then wouldn't buy it, by the time we got home she'd forget. she was around two when that had to end.

at age three, she's also caught on to the fact that we look for deals on stuff, she'll find something at a store and hold it up and ask me, "Is this on sale?" and sometimes I just say no, other times I try to say "That's not on our shopping list today kid" because that's really how I try to keep myself from buying junk all the time.

it's just a never-ending battle, fighting the stuff. teaching our kids to fight the stuff. they want everything.

I recently cleared a lot of toys out of Josie's room, even rolled up her big solar system carpet to sweep under it, and she loved her room. we played music and she danced and spun around, appreciating the new-ness of the space. clutter-free! she loves it, she just can't support it when she sees some new toy someplace, and it's only a dollar but I'm saying "no!" because I'm thinking of our house, novelty preference, Chinese factories, everything else that complicates it.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2014 04:28 pm (UTC)
That was a wonderful link! We went through a similar thing end of last year. There's still a few boxes of them to be given away. And you know, daughter didn't miss one thing! The only toys we have kept are the variety of blocks, chalkboard & chalk, Potato head & family, a few cars & little people, and arts/craft supplies. She does effectively play with one thing for hours each day!

We don't have the space nor the money to indulge her in everything. I do have to hide the books to donate it to the library. She did come up the other day with one or two "baby" books and said we could give it to a friend (who's a year old). And I do see that she comes up with far more creative ideas and plays a lot more imaginative things.

Another tip a friend shared, they get to play with a ton of toys at school, that also helped them reduce clutter at home without feeling the guilt of depriving the kids. I noticed my last two purchases of toys, she plays with them at school on almost a daily basis. We really don't need so much stuff! I don't see it as deprivation though. You are placing a bigger importance on relationships and experience than stuff.
Mar. 19th, 2014 04:36 pm (UTC)
ha ha, Marc was just talking about that the other day, Josie's preschool teacher was telling him how she just loves these oil pastel-like crayons and he was like "Well, good thing you guys have them here then!" Not sure if she was implying that we should get some or not, but he definitely did not see the need.

I mean, if you get ALL the cool toys at home, they won't even want to go to school, right? We don't want that!
Mar. 19th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
oh crap! Now you make me feel bad. Saw how well D could draw with the oil pastel crayons and was going to get them! ;) I did drop in the idea that she could give her toddler crayons to our neighbor friend who is a toddler - they never seem to wear away even with all the drawing! She is still thinking about it. Maybe it will be forgotten!

Mar. 19th, 2014 05:11 pm (UTC)
At first I have to admit that I felt a little defensive and judgy, but reading through the whole thing and seeing how she's trying to do this in her own life as well and not just making her children do it, I saw it from a different angle. I like this. I don't think we could ever be, say, so extreme as to be one of those families who lives in a Tiny House (although I think those things are awesome) but I have been really committed over the past year or so to not bringing anything home unless it was very, very important, and to getting rid of a lot of what we have.
Mar. 19th, 2014 05:44 pm (UTC)
The issue were having is other people. I'm quite happy with toy libraries etc but he keeps getting so much stuff (junk) as gifts. And it's hard to say no because people mean well.
Mar. 20th, 2014 05:07 am (UTC)
Right?! And why are people giving my kids candy ALL THE TIME?
Mar. 19th, 2014 08:00 pm (UTC)
There are days when this sounds really appealing. But like others have said, it's the stuff that's been given to us that would be problematic.
Mar. 19th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
Regarding big books that don't lend themselves to casual reading -- whenever Gwen asks to read one of those, I generally extemporize. Particularly if they have pictures, we'll just read the captions, or I'll summarize the text. Or I'll skip pages when I turn them. I like having "older" books around, because it gives her a hint of what she can look forward to.

We're pretty good on the toy front, though I'll admit a weakness for buying her stuffed animals, and it's hard for me to pass up books, especially if we're traveling and she needs something new to while away the 12 hour train ride.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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