5.23.2013

Toys Schmoys! ...Getting back to sanity and thankful hearts

I saw a blog post a little while ago called,
Why I Took My Kids Toys Away.
The title intrigued me, so I clicked on it and read it.
It was really inspirational to me.
Now, before you go read it,
you HAVE to read the whole thing.
She had a lot of people be hateful about it and they must not have read it all the way through.
I showed it to my husband, who also loved it.
It's about how after being overwhelmed by stuff (she and her daughters) and the frustration it was causing, she calmly decided to start packing stuff up to go without stuff for a while...to kind of reboot.
I think it's important to know that she didn't rip the toys out of her kids hands and leave them all scarred. She gently and lovingly taught them a lesson that we all need to learn and relearn over and over again.
Stuff is not important. It can actually make you less happy contrary to what our culture thinks.

Upon removing the toys, she noticed that her kids didn't miss it. They weren't fighting over stuff and actually enjoyed not having to constantly be asked to clean stuff up. She also noticed that they were nicer to each other, more content, and more creative. Yes, even more creative.
So often I think, "Oh, I need to get that for Kennedy because it will help her be more creative," but it's usually not true.
One instance in particular comes to mind...
One year for Christmas we got her a little play kitchen.
She loved it and was cooking us everything under the sun...brownies, smoothies, birthday cakes, etc...
For her birthday, we thought getting her some little play food for it would make it even more fun.
She liked the play food, but began only make the things she had...no more making things up.
Pretty soon, she wasn't even playing with it even more.
In that case, the stuff made her less creative than she was when she had nothing.
I could tell you a zillion more instances where my children have done that or have looked at me and told me they didn't know what to do and were BORED!
That word always bothers me...especially when it comes out of the mouths of children that are really blessed.
SO...with inspiration and conviction under my belt, I asked the girls to listen while I read the article to them. After that, I asked what they thought.  Guess what?!
They WANTED to do it too!

We got started right away since motivation is pretty fickle. ha!
We walked back to their bedroom, which was clean before we went to church that morning and saw this mess. Oh mercy!

So we got started. We got rid of about 1/2 of it...anything that wasn't really special or used much.
Then we divided up the rest into little tubs (dolls and ponies, drawing and coloring, puzzles, stuffed animals, dress up, etc...) that we labeled and put up high in the closet.
 Knowing that, after a while, we would get things back out every now and then, but that we didn't NEED TO in order to have fun.
 
Most days we don't even get one down. They will play for hours without even asking.
This is them playing school the next day.
 
They are SO much more creative and content.
I haven't hear, "I'm bored," even once. Woo hoo!
When I do get a tub down, we usually do a random draw from some labels I printed on cardstock and cut out, so that there's no bickering. They get so excited to see what it will be.
When I do get a tub down, it's like Christmas. They play so well together and can play with the one tub for hours.
I think it's like a really great menu. Sometimes when there are a ton of favorite options, it stresses people out because they have a hard time choosing. Then when they finally choose, they are left wondering if they made the right choice. Too much can be an overwhelming thing and it can rob us of our joy. I want my girls to have fun things, for sure, but I also want them to see them as unimportant items that they would give away in a second if they saw someone in need or if Lord asked them to.

As a side bonus...
Their room usually looks like this...no kidding.
They love that their room looks so nice and they aren't having to always clean it.
Who likes cleaning constantly...not many people.
  

 After we finished, it was time for me to do my room (closets, drawers, etc...)
I used to be a hoarder. Ask my parents and my sister.
My sister would be cleaning out her room and I'd be going through it.
Now that I have to clean it and have had to move it a few times, I am over that big time.
Pairing down feels SOOO good!

*Follow up:
So what are we going to do about birthdays, Christmas, etc...?
Well, we are still going to do a present for our girls, but we are going to try to pair down on that too...maybe one really special thing.
We are also going to talk to our inlaws about maybe doing time spent gifts instead of stuff.
Maybe take pictures and have a special little album of all the fun things you've done together.
That means so much to kids...more than a little thing that will probably be thrown away or lost in a year.
Some ideas:
  • Maybe go on a little day out together
  • Go to the movies
  • Go out to breakfast and then play together at the park
  • Go ride go carts together
  • Go on a little camping adventure
  • Teach them how to do something cool (a lot of grand parents have skills that we want them to pass on to our kiddos)
  • Go see a special performance (musical, ballet, etc...)
  • Go to a concert
  • Be creative together
  • Go out for ice cream and let them pick anything they want
  • Build something together
...the possibilities are endless. : )

As a teacher, I have seen first hand, how rewards of time spent work so much better than money, candy, games, or stuff. We live in a culture in which we're always distracted. To put your focus solely on your kiddo or grandkiddo is priceless to them...and to you.
-My favorite thing to do and my birthday request every year for the past 10 years, was to spend the day with my mom...going to lunch and going to flea markets. Sometimes we found fun keepsakes and sometimes we didn't. It was all about hanging out with my mom. My sister feels the same way, so much so that we continue the tradition with each other for our birthdays even though my mom is no longer here.

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