family fun · goodbye clutter! · Kids · parenting

Do I dare?

I’m sitting here, in my living room, surveying the lay of the land. It’s a bit messy: I’m still feeling weak and fatigued, so I didn’t enforce the “food at the table” rule and so N got challah crumbs everywhere. The whole day has pretty much been a free-for-all, come to think of it. So why doesn’t the living room look so bad?

Almost no toys.

Well, there is R’s baby gym, but it’s so much less garish than the ones we used to have for K and N. And sure, there’s a ball around here somewhere. And K’s giant inflated dinosaur (like those hopping balls we used to have as kids, but dinosaur-shaped). And that’s it.

Over and over again I’ve removed toys from this room. At first it was just the toys that K had outgrown. Then I allowed my inner “toy snob” free rein and took out all the ugly plastic things, leaving only the wood and fabric toys. And now this. We (temporarily) removed all of the toys from the living room to make space for K’s party (I had to hide those mushrooms somewhere!).

Do you know that in the five days since K’s party, not one of my children has asked about (or otherwise indicated) the lack of toys in here?

So what have they been doing? Well, today I had bills to pay, so I sat at the table with N and K. They each got to open envelopes for me (N got all the junkmail ones) and then K practiced using my 3-hole punch and N scribbled on a piece of paper with a pencil (I tried to interest him in the foam stickers, but where K at that age would have peeled off the backings and stuck them to things, N just wanted to shove them in his mouth.) Later on we got out the supplies for some mess-free painting and set it up at the window. K decided to get some blueberries out of the fridge and rinse them so she and N could have a snack.

I’m telling you this, not because I’m feeling all SanctiMommy, but because I wonder whether I could ever dare take the last drastic step… of getting rid of 90% of the toys we own.

Many of said toys are sitting in three boxes beneath a table in the basement. We haven’t opened those boxes in at least five months. Do we need them at all? Should I even bother looking through them, or should I just hit the goodwill donation centre? And what about the toys that left the living room last week? Should I bring them back? Move them downstairs?

I just keep getting hit, over and over, with the realization that we have too many things. And if the kids can be happy and entertained and engaged with regular daily tasks, then what are the toys for?

I suspect that, in the end, I’ll purge some toys and keep others, we’ll use a few but keep far more in boxes, until the day when our kids are grown and we can no longer justify having toys at all.

But… what will the grandchildren play with?

4 thoughts on “Do I dare?

  1. I love this! I’m big into toy rotation and “curation”. What’s your approach to books? We get lots of hand-me-downs from friends/family and I find that besides having too many books, half of them are poorly written or promote questionable values. So I’ve been purging, but some books are a tough call… I’m trying to come up with a rule-of-thumb…

  2. I am woefully engaged in a perpetual battle (with myself) on this issue. In my experience, it’s very true, we spend most of our time essentially playing with non-toys. We don’t have many toys to begin with and I also rotate them. On the other hand, the truth is, the toys my kiddo likes best are not, for the most part, the ones I personally find the most interesting or aesthetically pleasing. So that makes me think that I’m imposing my adult views on him. I want our home to be the sum of all of us, you know? (Hey, I wouldn’t have vintage James Bond posters around if it wasn’t for my husband.) So the battle rages on between the design snob and the hippie.

    On books – I’ve changed my tune on this one lately. I used to be a real bibliophile who considered books to be superior objects not subject to minimalist leanings. Yeah, I changed my mind. I donated an obscene amount of books to my local library. For kid’s books, if we’re not into them, out they go.

  3. Wondering where you are at with this…mostly curiousity. I wonder what I/we would have done if we’d had kids. Sariel’s child had an obscene amount of toys and I know I didn’t want to go that route. I know my parents weren’t big on toys and I don’t recall feeling deprived. I had a viewmaster which I loved and cherished and eventually gave to my sister’s kids. Bought myself another one recently. I know that when we were purging for our ‘downsizing’ move, we ended up getting rid of a bunch of Sariel’s daughters toys but we hung on to a few that he remembers her getting a lot of pleasure out of or ones that brought back fond memories for him.

    By the way, if you do end up giving them away there are a number of residential programs for pregnant and parenting teens that would probably LOVE to be on the receiving end of decent books and toys! There’s one nearby (Bathurst and St. Clair).

    Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful posts.


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