My daughter is the opposite of me.
I’ve often joked with my sister because her daughter is like me “everything in it’s place” whereas my daughter leaves her wardrobe on the floor. Occasionally, she will have moments of organization. She reorganized our bathroom counter and sets up special things in her room. On a whole, she’s messy or simply she’s a kid. I’d like to blame it on too many toys. I purge often and follow the one-in-one-out rule, but toys keep taking over.
Last year, I read an article from a mom who took all of her daughters’ toys away…twice! The first time was out of anger. The second was to teach a lesson of simplicity. I was inspired though I couldn’t bring myself to implement it. I mean, ALL her toys?! I didn’t want to do it out of anger, which would have been the case most of the time. Instead, I wanted to come to terms with the action of taking away my daughter’s toys.
Well, I did it. I came to terms and I actually took away the toys!
I did so when she was at school. I sorted and bagged up her toys. As I did so, I collected the things on our couches. The upstairs and downstairs couches. I was amazed to see that each couch was full of toys.
Now, I only have one child. Imagine the amount with two, three, four! In a way, I feel ashamed and disgusted. I mean, that’s a lot of money, plastic and eventually garbage. We are destroying our homes and planet for plastic things that hold our children’s attention for 10 minutes! We should be leading them to use their creativity, imagination and experiences.
Alright, I’ll get off my soap box….
Each toy is stored in our basement closet in clearly labeled bags or totes. The toys won’t be donated…yet. After three months, I will donate what remains, untouched to charity. Usually, I like the instant gratification, but I want this to have a lasting effect. So when Abby asks for a toy, I will give it to her to be placed into her room. She only needs to ask once, but it needs to be for a specific toy. Not just, “my barbies.”
I did prepare her for the change. We had a conversation before it happened. She was told, “Mommy wants to try an experiment. I am going to pack up all of your toys one day soon. I just want to see which toys are your favorite. All you need to do is ask for a toy and I’ll give it back to you.” I told her the morning of, I will probably pack up all the toys today. And before she entered the house, I said, ” I did it. I packed up all the toys.”
Her response, “Ok.”
That’s it?! “Ok.” No crying. No screaming or fighting. Just ‘Ok.’
That was easy. So easy that why didn’t I do this ages ago? So easy that why do we even have any of these things? So easy that why do we keep buying more?
Sorry, that soap box keeps getting under my feet!
Now I should clarify, I didn’t take away some things. Books stayed as well as craft supplies. I’d like to see if she will gravitate to these more because they are visible.
After all, creativity and imagination are the foundation for every child’s learning.
Stay tuned over the next few months to see the final results of my test. Consider joining me in this war against toys. Just consider it.