Let me be clear, this isn’t one of those, “I threw all of my child’s toys away and now they’re ready for MENSA” type of posts.
I’m way too lazy for that.
But, for much of the last week, I stepped over the grass skirt my husband and I brought back for our daughter from our trip to Hawaii.
“G, you really need to pick up this skirt, I’m tired of tripping over it. I’m going to put it in the trash if you don’t put it away.” – Me, 978 times in the course of 4 days.
The thing was, I didn’t want to put it in the trash. It was from Hawaii! I had such fun memories of picking it out for her and her general adorable-ness when we gave it to her upon her return.
But by day 5 of being flatly ignored by my almost 3 year old – I was done.
I wordlessly walked over to the skirt, picked it up, carried it to the garage, and placed it on top of the trash.
Later that day as we left to run some errands, she saw it.
“Mama! Mama! My SKIRT! My SKIRT is in the TRASH!”
“Yes it is, sister. And that’s where all of your toys that are not put away will end up.”
She stared me down, perplexed, but not nearly as upset as I anticipated.
Fast forward to that evening, and I asked her to put away the toys on the coffee table. I warned her that anything left there by the time I was done nursing her brother would be thrown away.
Once again, I was flatly ignored.
Once again, I wordlessly gathered items and began carrying them to the garage.
This time – she took notice. And her reaction caught me by surprise.
She was totally cool with throwing much of it away.
And not just okay with it, she was actually ASKING me to get rid of certain items.
Cue: gut check.
Ya’ll. I REALLY thought I had a handle on the number of toys in our house. I regularly purge items that are no longer played with. We rotate toys as to avoid boredom. I make sure that we have proper places for everything before adding anything new.
And yet, here was my not quite three year old, willingly purging her own toys.
Toys I hadn’t been willing to get rid of because they were gifts, or had some other meaning that I had attached to them. I hadn’t considered that she didn’t have that same emotional attachment. For the most part, toys are toys to her. They’re either fun, or they’re not. Black and white. Simple. Uncomplicated. Keep what you like, get rid of the rest.
I think, in my desire for her to have plenty of fun things to play with, I neglected to see that TOO many fun things would just become a chore. She was tired of being nagged to pick up. I was tired of nagging.
We were both overwhelmed.
So now, in the post-Christmas chaos, we’ve scaled back. Our play room is basically an art gallery with a permanent collection (dollhouse, kitchen, blocks, magna tiles & art supplies) and visiting exhibits (puzzles, music items, other small toys).
G can now be found playing with her toys in a tidy room that isn’t cluttered by 85 things she didn’t really want to play with in the first place. Hurrah!
She can also be found saying, “I hafta clean this up or momma will throw it away!”
(Side note to our family and friends who lovingly and generously gift our children with toys, WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH. And if you don’t see your gift out at our house, it is most likely hiding in the coffee table waiting it’s “turn” when it will be met with much enthusiasm by a certain little girl!)