There are a lot of inevitabilities of having children. You have the play dates, the activities, the dirty diapers, the delicate task of not getting involved in any mom wars, and of course the toys. Oh my gosh, the toys. So. Many. Toys.
We have three kids and they are each in a different age/stage. Different developmental stages means different books and toys, and I am DROWNING in toys. If Noah were around, he’d be asking God for directions on how to build another ark to escape the flood of toys that is taking over my house.
We have the bouncer, the swing, the shape sorting toys, the fun rattly toys, the stacking toys. Those toys are all meant to help baby #3 develop his fine motor skills.
Then, we have the doll houses, the dolls, the kitchen toys, the train toys, the Duplos, the puzzles. Those toys are all meant to help the middle and eldest child learn how to develop negotiation skills, you know for when they’re older and someone at the grocery swoops in and takes the last package of Oreos, and they need to remain calm. In my house this exercise is demonstrated by the two of them arguing over the same doll WHEN THERE ARE ROUGHLY 150 OTHER DOLLS FOR THEM TO CHOOSE FROM!
The fact is this: I have allowed our toys to get way too out of hand. I have a very hard time purging, especially when I know the youngest is about to grow into some of the toys I want to purge. How can you successfully purge toys without causing a riot when, shockingly, almost all of the 100,000 toys get played with almost daily? I HAVE NO IDEA!
Tonight, I tried to Marie Kondo the toys. We’ve all seen the show, read the social media posts, and if you’re like me, you’ve had her book on your shelf for a couple of years. Maybe, like me, you’ve read most of it and kind of Kondoed your life. On her show, she has talked about how great it is to get the kids involved. I was skeptical, but I was like, sure let’s try to this out.
So, tonight, with a cautious amount of optimism, I approached my 2 and 4-year-olds and said, “We need to get rid of some toys and give them to kids whose parents can’t buy them toys. Can you each pick out one toy that doesn’t bring you joy and that you don’t play with anymore?”
Guess what? THEY BOTH PICKED TOYS THAT BELONGED TO THE BABY! When I asked them to pick out another toy, they each picked a toy that belonged to the other. My eldest ended by picking something that belonged to me. I mean, was she wrong? The toys didn’t spark any joy for her, but somehow the point was missed.
We will be purging some toys as the days go on, but to help avoid this mess in the future, we have a plan in place to avoid an influx of more toys: No more toys.
The main influx of toys in our house comes from gift giving holidays. Everyone (myself included) likes to see the excitement of young children when they get toys they like, but the fact is our house is small and the toys are like tribbles in how they multiply. We don’t need more toys. What we need are experiences as a family.
This past Christmas, instead of getting stuff from my sister and her family, my family was gifted a museum pass. This museum pass will allow us to visit multiple museums in the city for the next year, and it even includes recriprocal passes to museums around the country.
Navigating birthdays can be a bit more difficult since there’s more than one person to explain the whole “we don’t need more stuff” reasoning to. However, there’s a great idea that’s started to spread its away around the mom groups and it’s called a Fiver Party.
It isn’t a new thing, but it’s been reignited. Instead of having guests bring gifts for the birthday kid, they bring a $5 bill. This can be used to help buy one big gift, or to save up for something else. There’s also a Tenner Party, where $5 is brought to save up for something and the other $5 is donated to a charity of the kiddo’s choice.
The host parents love the party idea because it keeps more stuff from coming into the house, while the guest parents like it because it generally saves them money and time. Most people spend more money on a birthday gift than $5, and not to forget the time spent shopping and wrapping the present.
Hopefully, you can save yourself the headache of avoiding more stuff and enjoy a Fiver or Tenner party! Now, pardon me while I go find the snow shovel to clean up the toys!