Saturday, May 25, 2013

Toy Wars {Dear Best Friend...}

Your little baby kicking in your womb, what a sweet feeling. So you don't know yet what stepping on Legos feels like? Oh you will. It's is the rite of passage for all moms.

Our toy story starts way back when I was a child. I pretty much remember each and every toy I owned. Every stuffed animal, every doll, and the dollhouse I created myself on our bookshelves. I could probably count them on four hands (always wished I had that many hands).

I entered motherhood with this idyllic idea that my children will have few quality toys, simple ones that child after child can play with. Wooden toys, classics, maybe a few stuffed animals and dolls, you know - a manageable amount that wouldn't overload their developing imaginations... Ha! Hahaha! So very funny! 

I had good intentions, obviously. But now we are living the reality of a white picket fence American life. Okay, so we have no white picket fence, but we do have middle class consumer buying power and two sets of loving, well-meaning grandparents. Scratch that, we don't actually buy toys, but the grandparents really mean well. 

While I suspect that our toy bins are still smaller than that of the average American child, it just feels like too much. Maybe it's because the playroom/bedroom is in the middle of the remodel and our tiny living room is the playroom right now? Maybe it's because I find myself tripping over toys? Maybe because I repeat "Please put that away!" only 129 times a day?

So if you are a mama-to-be, I'll give you one word of advice. Okay, three words. Just say no. 

You don't have to say no to everyone who wants to bless your child with a new toy, but you can and should say no to keeping those toys forever

An uncluttered home is more peaceful. Less toys = less clutter. Less toys = more peace. Less toys = less clean up time. Less toys = more down time. 

Less toys = more imagination! Kids don't need toys, honest. Their favorites? Pots and pans, cardboard boxes, random empty containers and bottles, towels, phones, remotes. Books. You can [almost] never have too many books. 

Do I regret letting our toy collection get out of hand? Yes, a little. Some days it nearly sucks the life out of me (of course I'm being overly dramatic).

Start now, when your little one is still in the womb. Make a place for toys, just toys. Maybe a set of bins (like these) in cubbies (like these) and don't let them overfill. Once you have a collection, make a point of donating a toy for every new one brought in. I wish I started that policy around age 2 with my first child. Sigh. Better late than never, right?

Of course you may have some toys that don't fit in a bin and that's fine, but it's the little ones that are hardest to manage. I sometimes think that toys with many parts are evil! If you want to know what I would keep if I had to toss everything else, it would probably be these favorites: a wooden play kitchen (this one is a splurge, you can make one too), dollhouse, building blocks, walker wagon, a real rubber duck, a doll, sand play set, wooden railroad, pull toy, Lego Duplos (and original Lego when they are older), art easel, rocking horse, a few wooden puzzles, musical hand bells, a few stuffed toys, and a xylophone

Always keep in mind that many toys will be inevitably gifted to your children, so don't feel any pressure to buy them yourself. We rarely buy any toys, yet ended up with a houseful. They are like cockroaches, they multiply pretty quick!

Oh, and start teaching that baby to put their toys away at around the age of two weeks [wink].

Do you battle toy overload in your home? How do you keep it from defeating you?

My Best Friend Will Be a Mom!

Photo: Baby E at 6 months, tasting his wooden shape sorter.

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  1. We have way too many toys, it's ridiclous. My MIL is some of the source of this cause she just buys my kids way too much. and it's also that our house is so small that the living room is the playroom. I think it would be be better if they had a playroom all to themselves. It's on my wish list for a new home. But we also have a ton of books. :)

    1. I feel your pain! And I also feel bad about it because they don't NEED all these toys and there are so many children in the world who don't even have food, never mind toys. This imbalance of us in abundance and others in poverty eats away at me.

      We aren't going to have a separate playroom anytime soon, but I can't wait to have their room done (2 of them sharing one) so we can finally have the toys in one place. We have a ton of books too!

  2. Um, we already have two and a half bins of toys! And as you know, I'm due in August. Luckily so far they are all at my parents house. They might just need to stay there...

    1. :) Hehe, I'm telling you, toys multiply like the Bubonic Plague! Maybe you can use parents' house as a dumping ground for the 'overflow' ;)


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