Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Toy Library

For years I spent an average of three hours per day cleaning. That's just cleaning not my cooking as well. Recently (the last few years) I clean much more - the frequent minimum is four hours. I'm understandably exhausted from all of this cooking, cleaning, blogging, crafting, mommying, etc.

My he daughter had a play date last week which left me unimpressed with her behavior towards her toys. When she was still very young she had a completely reasonable amount of toys. I was able to set them up around a blanket she would play on for the day with no problem.

My father sweetly offered to make one for her in his at home wood shop but I knew he didn't currently have the time to take on such an endeavor and found myself accepting a plastic Fisher-Price toy box.

The toy situation is bordering on the absurd for me. Over the last year we have found my daughter climbing into her toy box and just about swimming in her toys!

What does any of this have to do with her play date the other week?

Despite what I feel was far, far more than the two girls would need to play with barely anything was played with.

I allowed the television to stay on during the entire visit, which the girls ignored until strangely deciding that the near ending of the movie Paranorman was fascinating (my daughter then asked to watch the movie again the next three days in a row.)

I felt that aside from the pitfall of the girls being aged 2 and 3 - both in the mind set of, "I-have-no-desire-to-share-anything-ever" that they were grossly overstimulated by a room overflowing with toys and a television that added to the goings on for hours.

Children that have way too many toys, it seems, have frequently been found to have feelings of entitlement that continue on throughout the rest of their lives.

First, I tried shuffling through her toys to find some that I could just get rid of. This was easier said than done. After two or three passes I had pulled out very little or what I considered, next to nothing.

If you're looking to get rid of any of your childrens toys - do it while they are asleep or someplace else, otherwise they see everything you're grabbing and suddenly want it.

Second, I looked through her toys to see what was "too much". Were any of these items so complete that there was no room for imagination left? Did I feel the kids would learn anything from owning these toys?

Third, I decided to start a toy library.

With the toy library toys your children have forgotten they even own are now more visible and may once again become items they enjoy playing with. Toys are not to be removed from your library unless they are exchanged for toys that are currently out and about in your home. I'm planning on seeing how this goes and probably making my first toy rotation in 1 - 3 months.

Also, by putting away as many toys as I could I hoped to decrease the amount of work I would have to put in several times a day putting away toys. No longer stepping on so many of them would be a welcome bonus.

I waited until my daughter was asleep and pulled out toy after toy. Some were no longer age appropriate - the baby toys went into a drawer in the nursery.
Some I no longer wanted in our home for one reason or another. I put them in a bag to deal with later.

There were toys I thought she was at a good age to play with now. Things that taught colors, numbers,  or shapes - anything that functioned as a puzzle of some sort; these are things that I left out for now.
I stuffed as many toys as I could into a foot locker that I would store in the floor of the closet in the nursery.
Once I had finished the living room toy area looked noticabley cleaner.
When I got my little lamb up from her nap I sat down and waited to see what, if any, her reaction would be to  this change.

Her first chosen stop was to the drawer in my night stand where I keep toys for her to play with in the bedroom. We hadn't seen her playing with those very much so that seemed like a good start. Over the last couple of days I have seen a definite increase in her focus with one toy for a longer period of time.

The other day she spent nearly the entire day playing mommy to a dolly I hadn't seen her touch in months.

The dolly took quite a few naps.

Pooped in her diaper and required immediate changing.
Relaxed in brothers swing.
Had tummy time with brother.

And my little sweetheart even decided what her dolly needed was some babywearing time.

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