Do your kids have too many toys? Because mine do. Oh boy, do we ever have too many toys. Partly because when we lived in transition countries where all you can get is cheap Chinese crap that breaks when you look at it sharply, we'd go slightly nuts whenever we were in Germany or the US. So would relatives and friends, when they get their fingers on the boys (back then) once a year. And partly this happened because Doug and I really dig cool toys - I mean, really: How can you resist Exobonz?
But the truth of the matter is, the kids really only have a very few toys they would always turn to.
- Legos (Alan)
- Magnets (David)
- Zoobs (Alan and David)
- Train tracks (Jacob)
- Toy cars (also Jacob)
- Any of the above (Leah)
That's it. So today, Doug and I cleaned out the boys' rooms and left exactly only the above mentioned items, plus a few age-appropriate toys for Leah - mostly blocks, soft balls, things to chew on. (The Legos got restricted to a few thousand pieces, instead of the million that we actually own. I'm exaggerating only a tiny little bit.) Leah's toys (which are almost entirely hand-me-downs) fit into one toy basket. We have one toy storage unit left in the big boys' room, and one in Leah and Jacob's room.
I feel like a burden is taken off my shoulders. The rooms are -- rooms! You can see floor space!* I'm delighted and the kids are very stoic about it. As I said, they really only played with those few toys anyway, so they didn't really mind. Maybe it helped to know that everything wandered up into the attic, not the dumpster.
But now we're left with the wish to keep that status quo and not add more toys to the pile. But how? We've got lots of relatives and friends who love giving presents to the boys - some are fabulous about it and give stuff the kids really enjoy (for a while), others give cheap Chinese things that break fast (and subsequently are easy to dispose of although I hate adding to the landfills this way). Yet others give toys that are really well-meant but totally age-inappropriate. Leah got a Barbie and a mini-Belle set (a la Polly Pocket) for her first birthday. The boys loved it (for the novelty) and Leah promptly ate a teensy tiny shoe. I just don't think she's ready for this. (To make this clear: these presents were given by someone who has never forgotten a single birthday and who's been often more than not totally on target with her gifts. David loved, loved, loved his Batman-themed presents. It was a slip, but slips happen and other friends/relatives have really bad track records. This just illustrates my point.) I'm a bit at a loss at how to point out in a friendly and non-offensive way that thank you, we don't really want any more toys. My track record of getting what I want from my (US) relatives is pretty poor. I guess we'll just ignore the problem and maybe it goes away?
Anyway. The purge has happened, and I'm curious to see how the coming weeks play out. Summer break begins tomorrow.
*I'm exaggerating for dramatic results. In fact, we've been very good about having them clean up their rooms prior to bedtime. But lately, the sheer mass of toys has made this task nigh impossible. Much easier now!