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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Simple Life

There are some changes taking place here in my world. Randall and I have decided that we want to return to a more simple way of living. We want less chaos and less stuff. So, in honor of our new plans, I'm going to make a few posts that discuss simplifying your life - and mine.

Today I'm going to talk about toys. Yes, every parent knows quite a lot about toys. We see them in the stores. We see them on TV. We see them in our floor. Toys are the one constant of childhood. Every child loves toys. The problem, of course, is that toys often take over our homes and our lives. Trying to tame the toys is an ongoing battle - at least in this house where toys are everywhere. In an effort to simplify my life, here is what I am doing (and recommend that you should do also, if you long for simplicity) to tame the toys.

First, I have gone through the mountains and mountains of toys and **gasp** tossed them out. Now, mind you, I did this when my children were not at home. They did not witness this ruthless display of elimination. The toys that were broken - TRASH! The toys that were forgotten - CHARITY! The toys that just were outgrown - CHARITY! The toys that were never played with (even when they were new, and trust me, there were far too many of those) - CHARITY! I managed to cut our toy supply down to a mere two boxes worth of toys (not including the Legos - those are in their own box...). Guess what! The kids never even noticed that most of their toys were no longer here. Really, that is a true indication that my kids just had way too many toys. Okay - I admit it. They still have way too many toys, but it isn't nearly as overwhelming now as it was just a short week ago. The toys that still live here are only those that are the most loved and the most played with.

Second, I will be setting up a toy storage center and a system of sorting the toys that will make it easier for the girls to find what they want to play with AND to put things away when they are done. My one major goal for the toys is to teach my girls to put their toys away on their own. Yes, I know that I have been very lax on this particular issue. Up until now they were never really expected to put those many toys away. Well, the rules are going to change (just as soon as I get my system set up). Toys will no longer be allowed to wander the house all day and night unattended. Toys have to go home when they are done playing. I know this will take some time to become second nature, but we'll get there.

Third, and this is the biggest, we just aren't going to buy more toys. Well - at least not very many and certainly not without a great deal of thought about whether they will actually play with them or not. Even with the holidays coming, our toy collection will not grow uncontrollably. I've spoken to all the Grandma's and anybody else who might be buying gifts for my kids. They know that our girls have accumulated way too much stuff. They know that this holiday season really needs to be less focused on STUFF and more focused on making life special. As for me, I've decided to buy Christmas toys sparingly and carefully. Whatever I buy will compliment whatever they already have.

I hope to find myself feeling less crowded and less overwhelmed very soon. There are many more steps in our journey to simplicity. And honestly, I need SIMPLE these days. However, it's far too much to cover or accomplish in one day.


April said...

Good Idea I always have problems throwing out the kids toys because every time I consider chucking something they always decide that's when to start playing with it again.

Don't forget to have your children watch less tv. The one major inspiration to children for the toys they think they want are those half hour commercials they watch with commercials in between teaching your child to be as obnoxious as possible to get what they want.

Mom said...

Luckily, we don't have TV in Momland - well, no TV reception, anyways. We only have videos. If it isn't on a VHS or DVD then we won't be watching it. No commercials that way - mostly...

We've been without TV for about 5 years now and rarely ever miss it.

Petula said...

I love this post... I go through the toys every once in awhile -- also when the kids aren't here -- and throw away broken toys, give away toys, but it still seems like we have too many. I need to upgrade my storage thingy too then teach the new process. My problem with not getting anymore toys is the Disneyland Dad. I have been thinking about broaching the subject regarding this upcoming holiday, but I know he would be unwilling to tell his side of the family (who I don't speak to any longer) to abide by those rules. When he finally gets his own place I will make it clear that any new toy purchases should remain at his house!

Thanks for giving me another burst to tackle the toy overload again. See... you are inspiring. :D

the Mind of a Mom said...

Hey Mom

I did the exact thing with my kids! When the grandmas thought I was kidding and purchases more and unwanted toys, we left the toys at their houses. The kids never missed the toys and the grandmas learned fast we meant business. No means No.

Kudos to you for the fresh start.

Lisa Petrarca said...

Great Advice! I'm a "mild" pack rat...I always think, "What if we need it later on?" Then back in the closet, drawers, or garage it goes. I'm trying to get better at this...thanks for the reminder!

Liss said...

Good thing you don’t have TV it’s full of commercials for kids toys :)
I can’t bring myself to give away things that aren’t broken. I do have a rule that they can play anything new until they have packed up the current toy they are playing with. Only exception the Thomas train track.

PS: I hope kira is doing well.

Anonymous said...

I feel this. I just went through our tons and tons of toys and did a HUGE purge. There is a huge pile for charity, a large pile for consignment, and the broken/missing pieces toys made their way to the trash. It feels so better when I walk into the family room/toy room. When clutter subsides, stress also subsides.