The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Too many toys? Part II February 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 10:29 pm
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Nearly every parent knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by toys. Toys in bedrooms, toys in living rooms, toys in the tub – just too many toys all over the place. John Rosemond promotes an approach to toys called the Toy Library.

In this system, the child “checks out” one toy at a time from the Toy Library. When the child is done, s/he returns it in exchange for a different toy (usually with assistance from a parent, especially for younger kids). (A small assortment of Hot Wheels would count as one toy; a set of blocks would count as one toy.)

I have never followed through with this system because I couldn’t think of a way to make it feasible on a day-in, day-out basis. However, a few days ago I began to use a modified version of the Toy Library.

1. I pared down the toys in 3-year-old Adam’s room to: markers, crayons, & paper; a bin of misc. things such as empty coffee cans and empty boxes; plus 1-2 toys such as a set of Legos and an assortment of Hot Wheels. (I didn’t change anything with regard to the 30 or so books in his room.)

2. All other toys, I stashed away in our basement.

3. Adam is welcome at any time to request a toy from the basement. He needs to trade in one of the toys from his room (Legos, for example) in order to get the new toy. Naturally, this requires him to pick up and put away what he had been playing with. This is where I do a happy dance.

The benefits of this system are many. I think he appreciates his toys more, when they aren’t stuffed into every available space in his room. I should mention that since we have a small house, his bedroom is also where all of his toys are kept, aside from the toys that are stored in the basement. Using this sytem, he is required to keep his room and our main floor quite tidy because there simply aren’t a bazillion-and-one things for him to strew about. Also, I think he plays more creatively when we use this system.

It is a bit more work for me, but I think all in all, it nearly evens out in the end because I don’t have to deal with a bazillion-and-one toys all over the place.


Paring down the clutter in my 3-year-old’s room January 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:48 pm
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When I have a few minutes to spare, I like to go into my 3-year-old’s room (preferably when he’s not home) and pare things down. Why?

1)  Children play better in an environment that is calm & orderly, and spacious enough to spread out and play. (Both FlyLady and John Rosemond recommend this approach, and I couldn’t agree with it more.)

2) It is easier to keep his room tidy when there are fewer things to deal with. Therefore, I can hold him responsible, to a greater degree, for tidying up his room.

Last week I pared down his collection of markers and crayons from 40 to perhaps 20.  This is a sanity saver for me because he sometimes likes to take out all of his art supplies and play make-believe with them, putting them in boxes, bags, and so on. I don’t want to discourage this make-believe play, of course, but it is good for my mental health when there aren’t as many markers involved.

Like many parents, I also rotate toys in and out of storage. I do expect him to entertain himself most of the time, and I can handle the occasional guilt about this if he can enjoy something “new” now and then. However, I do try to make sure I don’t put him in a mindset where he thinks he can entertain himeself only if there is something new to play with.

As adults, sometimes it’s easy to think that more is better when it comes to toys for our kids. It can be difficult to fight this mindset, but I think it’s worth it. Kids don’t need lots of things; they do need the opportunity to play safely, to explore, and, when they are old enough, and to play creatively and imaginatively.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding kids, toys, and decluttering!


Too many toys? January 11, 2009

Filed under: Toys — lotsofopinions @ 12:05 am
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A year or two ago, a lot of my mommy-friends seemed to think that we had a LOT of toys at our house. We did have a fair number of toys, and they were kept in our living room since we don’t have a place for a play room.

Since then, I have changed my thinking about toys, and my 3yo son has also moved into a different bedroom, which is on the main floor. Now, we have almost no toys in the living room, and all of his toys (the ones that aren’t being stored in the basement) are in his relatively small bedroom. He has just a few toys in his bedroom because I believe it’s important for kids to have the opportunity to play creatively with a few toys and not be overwhelmed with too many toys all at once.

And so, I recently realized that now that my friends’ kids are getting older, their houses are being overrun by toys, whereas at any given time, we have just a few toys underfoot at our house. It is funny how things have turned topsy-turvey in that regard. I am often relieved when we return home from a friend’s house because I don’t feel overwhelmed by gazillion toys everywhere. I also feel that my everyday life is a good deal simpler because I’m not trying to operate in a house that’s overrun by toys.

Another benefit of having fewer toys is that I don’t feel that I’m being unrealistic to expect my son to pick up and put away ALL of the toys that he’s pulled out.

I’m sure my friends think I’m a little kooky. Like when we have playgroup at a local church’s nursery, when I arrive I put out of reach at least half of the 150 pieces of play food. Why? Because I hate picking them up after they’ve ended up in every corner of the room. I also think kids have just as much fun with 75 pieces of play food as they have with 150 pieces (okay, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but not by much).

All in all, I still feel we own too many toys. My strategy for dealing with the problem is

  • We keep just a few toys in my son’s room at any one time. The rest of the toys are tucked away in the basement and we rotate in different toys every so often.
  • We try to limit the number of new toys coming in to our house. For birthdays, we ask for no gifts (though we don’t expect the grandparents to comply).
  • I make an effort to get rid of the toys that don’t seem worthwhile. This is getting more difficult as Adam gets older, however.

Thoughts about toys January 5, 2009

Filed under: Parenting,Toys — lotsofopinions @ 11:22 pm
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It is natural – and beneficial – for children to want to take toys apart. Unfortunately, the majority of toys today are not made to be taken apart. I think that’s why kids lose interest in toys so quickly, because the toys just aren’t that interesting for the long-term.

At our house, one of our favorite toys is the Brio Mec/Brio Builder set. These toys aren’t in production anymore, but I have managed to buy some on eBay and at garage sales. It is sort of like a wooden erector set that is suitable for ages 3-4 and up. My 3yo son, Adam, has spent many hours playing with this set. When I watch how engaged he is with this toy, it makes me want to sneak into the basement and get rid of other, less versatile toys.