So, the other day I sort of hinted that my kids don’t need much to have fun playing when I told you about our Pinterest tape city. So, today I’m going to dive a little deeper on what else we’ve done to minimize the amount of toys we have around.
Sometimes, I feel like “The Mean Mom”. You know the one. The one with all the rules and restrictions. The one who aaaaalways tells her kids no. No, you don’t need that donut. No, you don’t need another Thomas train. No, you really don’t need ANYTHING. I, along with John, are trying to instill in the kids that they have everything they need. More than everything, really. More clothes than they can wear (I actually have cut WAY down on their clothes, I’ll write another post on that!), more toys than they can play with and more food than they could ever eat.
This all leads me to why we cleared out a ton of their toys. Oh my gosh, moms, please listen to me! Your kids DO NOT need a full playroom of toys! It took me a while to realize this. I was always humming and hawing about what to get rid of and thinking about how they play with some toys every once in a while so those should stay or what if one day they really, really want to play with that? Then, one day, standing amidst a disaster area of a playroom, I (and Alex) had an epiphany.
The Overwhelm Moment
Alex was literally crying because he was so overwhelmed by all that he had to clean up. I was standing firm that he made the mess, so he needed to clean it up. We were in a standstill because he just couldn’t and I just wouldn’t. (I never recommend battling with a 4 year old, it’s exhausting and nobody wins). I sat down with him and asked him what he thought we should do. He really shocked me when he said “I think we need to get rid of some toys.” I agreed with him and we went about picking out some things that he and his brother didn’t really play with anymore.
The boys really did a great job being involved in donating toys to children who didn’t have any. There was very little pushback about anything I suggested we get rid of. We probably cut their toys in half at first. It was so freeing! But, it was still hard to get them to clean up when 10 bins of toys were dumped out all over.
This is when I came in and packed up another half and put them in the basement. This is a great tool to use if you aren’t quite ready to get rid of something. It gets it out of the playroom, which is the immediate issue, and allows you and your kids a bit of time to decide if you can live without the toy. I find that usually my kids forget about things until they see them, so make sure you hide them well!
We finally had it narrowed down to mostly open-ended toys. Magna-tiles, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, Thomas wooden trains & tracks, cars, trucks & planes, animals and some puzzles. There were still a few baby toys and other random, larger toys, too like a V-tech school bus (Christian’s favorite ever.) and balls.
Even with pairing down to only these toys, I still felt unrest when the kids were playing. I was still yelling and feeling so frustrated with the amount of noise coming from them while they played. Sometimes, I don’t mind a little noise, but mostly, I like a quiet and calm home. I couldn’t really put my finger on it for some reason.
No More Loud Toys
Then one day, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, Alex and Christian zoomed by me with THE. LOUDEST. EVER. TOYS. I mean, the wheels on their trucks hurt my ears. It was ridiculous. I decided then and there that I had to get rid of the toys that made me tense up and cringe. I think that whatever is brought into a home, has to work for everybody or it’s out (obviously, there are exceptions to this, but if something is making you react in the way I described it should probably go!). These toys were making me a really unhappy mom, but I also felt really mean asking them to give up even more of their toys. I explained it to my boys and we decided together that we could get rid of the toys that made a ton of noise. They were so understanding and I was pretty taken aback because I assumed a 2 and 4 year old would pitch a fit about me asking to get rid of their favorite toys. I think including them in the decision and explaining myself made all the difference.
I’ve also realized that, just like me, once something is gone, it tends to be forgotten by the boys. They have not once asked me (and it’s been a month or so) for those toys back. Play time is so much quieter and it feels a bit calmer in my home. As calm as a house with three kids 5 and under can feel, I guess! I will say, that they play a lot longer with one toy because there aren’t a million choices overwhelming them anymore. They make elaborate train tracks and build extra train sheds with Lincoln Logs and Manga-Tiles and I love listening in on their conversations.
Oh, and here is the culprit of the every white fluffy rug that’s supposed to be black…
Have you cleared out your playroom? How did your kids react? How did you feel about it?