Cleaning Out the Toys
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This is a story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending yet to come.
A few weeks ago I went into Nicholas’s room to grab his hamper of dirty clothes. I walked out confused. It wasn’t there. I went back in, thinking I made a mistake. It still wasn’t there. I walked back to the laundry room, thinking I already grabbed his hamper and forgot. It wasn’t there, either. I know it sounds silly, but I went back into his room and did a slow circle in place. No hamper! Again I walked back to the laundry room, this time staring into corners and walkways. Nothing. I gave up and assumed I was losing my mind.
I went into Mikey’s room to grab his hamper, and that’s where I found Nico’s. In the center of the room, somewhat lopsided, for all the world to see. I called out to Nicholas and asked him if he put his hamper in Mikey’s room.
He said yes. “I’m ready for my bunk beds, mama.”
Apparently, he was moving in. I told him before that was possible, we were going to have to get rid of some toys. Two boys with too many toys can’t fit in one room.
We reduced Mikey and Nico’s toys and books by 75% over the course of three weeks. What’s amazing is that Mikey and Nico are thrilled with the results.
I have yet to immerse myself in this month’s book club pick. Instead, I went to the library and checked out Simplicity Parenting once more. This time, I took copious notes and read it cover to cover instead of trying to cram it in between dozens of books almost due. I devoured it and will buy a permanent copy for our home soon.
I love this book and everything it has to say. Not everyone agrees with me. Some find the practices the books recommends difficult to follow. I could spend an entire post on this book, but for today I’ll share what we did and how the rooms look now.
They are a work in progress. I still have a ways to go before Mikey and Nico can share a room! The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone planning a major overhaul of a child’s toy storage is that you do it on your own or with your partner. Don’t involve the children. It’s what Simplicity Parenting recommends, and having done it both ways (before and since the purge) I can tell you it’s excellent advice.
I always included the boys when purging out their toys in the past to make sure I didn’t get rid of something they truly loved. The problem is that every toy is a toy they truly love. Their memory is astounding. The know the who, what, where, and how of every single plastic widget in their room. The 5″ stuffed toucan they won at a flea-bit carnival that lived underneath the bed for two years is suddenly of utmost importance. You can spend hours arguing the necessity of keeping a Star Wars action figure with missing arms.
“Mom, he’s been injured in battle! We use him in our war scenes.”
We dropped the boys off with my parents for quality time and the Mister and I spent the eve before Super Bowl Sunday purging toys. It was fun! We called the shots, we flew through boxes, and we ended up with a pretty clean room for Nico (no train table, a great reduction of books, etc.) and a head start on Mikey’s (most of the expedit purged).
When we brought them home, we were nervous what they would say, especially about the missing train table (that they never used except to pile their toys).
They loved it. All of it.
Although we cleaned out the closets in October, Christmas brought another avalanche of toys from the grandparents. It was depressing and annoying. I worked so hard to clean out Mikey’s closet, and then worked hard to keep it clean. The simple truth is we were storing so many unused, outdated, or broken toys before Christmas, we had nowhere to store the new Christmas toys I didn’t feel they needed.
We’ve since come to an agreement on how gift giving will go from this point forward.
This past holiday weekend I emptied out all the toys from the closet and began purging those, along with what was left in the expedit.
I normally include lots of progress shots when I do these William Morris posts but this is all I have. It was so exhausting, so discouraging, and so absolutely overwhelming at times to be surrounded by all those toys that it was all I could do to keep from crying. I wanted to give up a thousand times and hated every minute of it. I don’t know if it’s because the boys were with me the second time around (and Nico especially slooooowed down the process) or if it was because I was coming down with a cold, but I felt really frustrated and alone.
I would pick up two toys and then stop. Pout. Wonder why I even bother, since I’m the only one who even cares if the house stays clean. Pick up two more toys and a book and then stop again. Imagine the homes of all the natural living bloggers I admire and compare it to my plastic strewn disaster.
Towards the end I cheered up as I watched Mikey take ownership of the project. When I told him he could work at the garage sale and sell toys he didn’t want (and keep the money for whatever he wants to buy) he was beside himself. He started making advertisements for all his toys and has big plans for all the money he is going to make.
19.99? Lasts only thru Monday. Buy it now and you’ll only have to pay 15.99$!
I mean, come on. You can’t stay in a bad mood in the face of superior marketing. I called it a day shortly after that and didn’t tackle their rooms again for a few more days.
This is a coincidence, but Nicholas is looking in the direction where that train table used to sit.
This is his room now. That little Target cubby system (worthless) holds his shoes in the bottom row. The rest is empty, minus what you see. We’ll sell it at the garage sale.
Here is the expedit. It’s empty! Not empty-empty, but close enough. I could have moved what’s there into the closet, but I was too tired. We’re going to sell this, too.
In the closet are toys we are going to donate, sell, or keep but are too large to store anywhere but under the bed. I prefer not to store them there because of Mikey’s allergies.
And here are the remaining toys. The three bins at the bottom store what they play with most often: dinosaurs, Hot Wheels, and action figures. They also love legos, blocks, and construction sets. I somehow managed to fit all their books onto this shelf, too. (Also worthless, also from Target.) We’re going to sell it and buy something more substantial that can actually fit picture books. Ridiculous.
In the end, we had over nine trash bags of toys and books, both functional and to discard. They’re all sitting on the back porch, waiting for the garage sale/trash day. Amazing what you keep when you aren’t paying attention.
This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.
Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:
- Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
- Your post must relate to your efforts to create an intentional home. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it.
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- There are buttons to add to your post or sidebar, too, thanks to the lovely Alex, of Type A Calligraphy. Please link the buttons back to this site.
- Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.