I've been reading about moms who put away all of their kids' toys, out of reach, inaccessible, and let their kids choose 1 thing or 1 crate of toys to play with at a time. While I think it's a great idea, it was never something I wanted to do. I thought I would miss letting my boys exercise creativity in combining toys from different categories: puzzles become roads, Legos become action figure accessories (usually "fighting things" aka weapons), trains and cars and Lego towers come together in a huge city. They also don't have a lot of toys (from an American perspective - from a Kenyan perspective, it's Toy's 'R' Us in here).

Then Ben hit this phase that I describe as Destructive 2 Year Old. When Nate was in this phase, we lived in a 2-story house and had fewer toys. He had a small basket of living room toys for downstairs and only slightly more upstairs toys. He sure did dump out his living room toy basket every chance he got, but it was only 1 basket of toys. Very manageable, and I didn't mind having him clean up only at the end of each day. Ben, however, has access to their full toy collection. Most things are sorted by type and put away in small baskets, which sort of stack in the bottom of their closet/built-in wardrobe dealy. Here's how our days have been going:

I go into my bedroom to check on the washing machine. I come back into the living room to find Ben has dumped 2 baskets of toys out on the floor. And he's playing with no toys but a piece of cardboard that was destined for the trash. He is required to clean up. It's a fight. We talk about what he wants to do. He asks for crayons and a coloring book. I deliver. I take the laundry outside to hang it up to dry. I come back into the living room. Ben has dumped out 2 baskets of toys in the living room and 1 in the hall. The crayons are nowhere to be found. He's playing with nothing at all, but pretending to fall off the couch. He is required to clean up. It's a fight. We take the baskets back to the bedroom, only to find that their outside toys have been dumped and spread all over the bedroom. He is required to clean up. It's a fight. It's now 10 am.

I can't cope with tripping over, stepping on, and wading through toys all day long. And I have no energy for the same clean up fight every 45 minutes. What we need is a manageable amount of toys that can be cleaned up only once a day.

Where the toys used to be: now just a basket for stuffed animals (which are currently all over the house) and a shoe box of costumes. 

I took the plunge a week ago and put all of their toys up on the top shelf in their room. They can keep all of their stuffed animals because these neither trip me nor hurt when I step on them. With everything else, they have to choose 1 container at a time to play with. I allow them to change what they're playing with during the day, and it's not such a fight to clean up because it's a very small mess. Plus, cleaning up means they can play with something else.

Where the toys are now.

Nate can reach the toy shelf with a step stool. However, he knows the rules and is very responsible. He can't quite put the toys away, but he can get new things down. He put the costume box "away" in the first picture, so he could get out the action figure box. I fully intend to give them access to all of their toys at the same time again. But first, we have to get through Destructive 2 Year Old (which very well may cross over into Destructive 3 Year Old).


Popular Posts