We’ve all seen the mess, stepped on Barbie shoes, bought the fancy containers, and we’ve all spitefully vacuumed up Legos. I woke up one day and noticed that my house had disappeared under piles, mountains, and containers of crap…er…I mean, wonderfully educational toys!
I realized quickly that all of the hard work and effort that went into making my house look nice and inviting was slowly going downhill. We should have bought stock in Rubbermaid with as many containers and space savers as we purchased. To heck with Pinterest! Why do all those kids look so entertained and those playrooms look so tidy and clean? Why is it that my children had a playroom dedicated to their toys, but they only ever wanted to drag there stuff into the rooms we were in?
No matter how organized I thought I was, or how many pretty labels I had it didn’t seem to matter. No one was paying attention to any of it! Coloring books in with the clearly labeled construction paper tub, dress up costumes haphazardly tossed in with the dolls/action figures bin, crayons, markers, stencils, and chalk all together in one tub. The horror! At any point you could walk into my house and mistakenly think we had just been robbed.
They even had drawers in our kitchen devoted solely to their kitchen toys that they hadn’t used since the day they got them. The funny thing, as with any children, they never could find anything to do, and were often bored or they were outside having the best time with sticks and neighbors.
So after my 900th bloody pinky toe (why do they make Barbie shoes so pointy?) I decided to declare war on my children’s toys. For two weeks, I hauled EVERY single item related to the kids down to our basement and neatly organized it in garage sale fashion. There was not a trace of kid anything in their bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, play room… no where!
We sat our kids down on a Sunday and told them that they would have the chance to earn some money throughout the week for chores, homework, and manners and then with that money they’d be given a chance to shop for their toys. They were pumped! On shopping day, I handed each of them a laundry basket and told them to go at it.
My son blew through his money in five minutes, and then instantly regretted his decision and made a lot of returns and exchanges. My daughter spent about an hour carefully selecting her new toys. They made comments like “WOW, I didn’t even know we had this!” and “I lost this months ago!” Mind you, my husband and I tried very hard not to yell and scream at these comments! We were astounded by the things they chose to buy. They had so many toys that we had no idea what they were even into! We learned so much about their personalities and what phases of play they were done with.
At the end of their shopping trip we sat down and discussed what we should do with all of the leftover toys. It was an amazing family discussion that turned into reasons to be thankful and how we should show gratitude to the people in our lives that give us toys. We were also able to teach our kids about children that don’t have billions of dollars in toys just laying around. In the end, they decided some of the toys should be re-gifted to younger cousins and friends but most of the toys went to donation ministries. The kids were so excited to be able to share their toys with others.
I encourage you to try something like this! You might be surprised at what you learn about your children.