Twas the weeks before Christmas and all through the house not a toy was to be found, not even for a mouse!
This was the culmination of some grumbly issues the lads had been having about keeping their toys neat and cleaning up the messes that they made.
Their favorite activity at that time was to empty their toy box of all toys cover it with blankets and play IN the toy box. Which is totally fine with me. I love it when they use their imaginations!! But I don’t love it when it came time for clean up and they balked, threw fits, fussed, whined and cried about having to clean up their toys.
Part of the problem came from the fact that they had too many toys out at once. And a lot of those toys were in lots of parts. (think lego) So the clean up did seem like a monstrous task when all 175 train track pieces were scattered all over the floor, not to mention all the matchbox cars, legos, and each and every stuffed animal along with an assortment of McDonalds happy meal type toys. 😉 It was overwhelming to ME and I’m not 3 and 4 yrs old.
We tried various tactics including tossing out some of those trinkety toys if they hadn’t made progress on cleaning up in a certain amount of time. It made an impression, especially on one little lad who hates for things to “go to the dump.” But unfortunately it didn’t take care of the above issues with cleaning.
Finally Daddy decided that enough was enough. After dinner one night, he packed up every toy in the boys’ room and took it out to the garage. The reaction was not very positive to be sure, but Qade mellowed a bit when he realized that they were just put away, not thrown away. He looked in his room and said, “I don’t think it looks nice in there.” Then he amended it to say, “Well, I think the floor looks nice, but the toy box doesn’t look nice because there aren’t any toys.” 😉
They were toy-less for a weekend, and were not allowed to play with Ella’s toys. That next week, I brought in one of the boxes of jumbled up toys and told them that if they could help me clean up THAT box of toys, they could put those toys back into the toy box. We got through about 1/2 of the box before the whinies took over. I packed it all back in and out to the garage it went.
I have to say that I was surprised at how well they did without toys. Initially I told Stuart that I was going to be punished as much as the kids because they’d be bored out of their minds and driving me crazy all day. I was happy to discover that this wasn’t the case. They adapted very quickly and made up all kinds of games to play together with no toys!
Eventually, before Christmas Day, I had them help me sort their old toys. We put a LOT of them into a Goodwill pile. Qade was a little more able to cope with them going away if he knew they weren’t going to the dump. Another pile we are donating to my mom who wants more toys for them to destroy her house with when we go visit. 😉 And there was the trash pile where broken, and Micky-D’s type toys went. A few got put away into a bin to “rotate” out later. The very slimmed down toy box became much easier to manage, and most of the toys with a zillion pieces got put away to be used in Mom initiated quite time play. 🙂
We still get complaints when it’s time to clean up, but it’s NOTHING compared to what it was!! The lads play with their toys just like they did, but they also continue to play their toy-less games much more frequently. All in all I think that the time without toys was good for them, and the time now with fewer toys is also good for us all!