Friday, February 21, 2014

I TOOK AWAY THE TOYS.

The past several weeks have brought with it an experiment.

Some of you might balk at the idea…but hear me out.

If you know us-and by us I really mean ME- you know that I lean heavily towards minimalism. I left the country seven years ago and gave away 75% of my belongings. Including my winter coat. I didn't think I'd be coming home in the middle of February to a snow storm.

Since then I've not really replaced much of my stuff. I got married, so that stuff came to inhabit my space and we had to buy some furniture, but mostly its the basics and one carry-on size suitcase filled with mementos. The ones that mean the most, the ones I want my posse to show their posses.

And since I worked in an orphanage in rural Burkina Faso I came home with a different idea about what kids NEED in order to learn and grow and love and be loved. (And it's not loads and loads of toys. And then more toys. And maybe a few more).

My posse has the least amount of toys of any kids I know save for maybe one. And it sometimes still feels like too much. They don't play with what they have and whine and beg for something else. And the mess. Don't even talk to me about the mess. I have such a hard time with THE MESS. I'm sometimes afraid I'm going to give my children a complex with all the cleaning up (before we leave to go somewhere, before lunch, before naps, before dinner, before bed…) and then I relax and tell myself I'm going to give them a complex about something, might as well be cleaning up. It's part of the job of being an imperfect teacher to young impressionable souls.

SO.

We I took away the toys.

Not all of them.

But we've got a system now. The toys live in the closet. Every week each posse member can choose 3 toys for the week. The rest go back. (Toys are grouped in piles-so all the plastic animals counts as one toy) Even the big ones like the kitchen and the workbench. In the closet. Off limits for the week.

It felt a little extreme as I was doing it. Honestly. I was doing it out of frustration and at-the-end-of-my-rope feelings. I didn't know what else to do. I was screaming (in my head of course) "WHY ARE YOU NOT PLAYING WITH YOUR TOYS!!" So I just decided spur of the moment in the middle of the afternoon while Partner in Parenting and Life was watching a Bears game. (That's sacred time you know. DO. NOT. INTERRUPT.) I find that most of my best decisions are made spur of the moment. I just decide to do it. And then do it. And then I'm so glad I did. And the same can be said for this one.

I have nothing negative to say about this experience.

They play with their toys more. There is less to clean up. They are excited to get 'new' toys every week. There is a sense of ownership and pride I see in them when they make a choice for the week. Sis is playing with 'boy' toys and Bubs is playing with 'girl' toys…

I will not go back.

And just for the record, Partner in Parenting and Life is totally on board.

Anyone else want to try it out and see how it goes?


4 comments:

  1. YES! Over Christmas, I cleaned house and moved 75% of Adelaide's toys to the basement--with the intention of rotating toys every 3 months. We now have fewer toys than before, but I still feel like Adelaide doesn't play with the toys--except to spread them all over the house. I may wait until Adelaide is a little older, but this sounds like a fun idea.

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  2. How is the experiment going???

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    1. LOVELY. I love it. Its fabulous. They PLAY with their toys. There is less mess. Less complaining because they picked out the toys they are playing with…My next hurdle is pairing down some of these toys with SO MANY pieces.

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    2. Also every week is exciting because they haven't seen the toys for awhile so its like getting something new every week!

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