I have blogged about our toy dilemma over here, way back in early 2011. Then earlier this year, I read Sharon ‘s post over here, particularly her point about her toy problem, and made a decision then and there to do something about OUR toy problem. Up until a few weeks ago, our house constantly looked like a nursery school, minus the lurking diseases and gruesome stains on the floor mat (oh wait, we have those too). There were more toys than grass in our yard. I could not escape to any room without finding a toy laying about; Captain America taunting me as he lay upside down under the sink, while I sat on the toilet. To say it was driving me insane is an understatement; every time I stood on a piece of Lego or felt myself grind a leftover piece of play dough into the rug, I wanted to scream at my two mites to put their blinking toys away before I gave them away.
It’s not that they aren’t good at cleaning up after themselves, but the attention span of children under the age of five, is so limited, that after three seconds of playing with one toy, they “need” (Liam’s favourite word) to play with something else. After an hour or so, there’s a massacred trail of toys which they leave in their wake, as they go about their toddler
destruction business. Not to mention the fact that we just don’t have the space to store all of these toys, so even when they were “packed” away, it was more an exercise to get them out of my sight to lessen my irritation, than to actually put things away, if you get what I’m saying. But two weeks ago, I decided to take this toy bull by the horns and kick some toy butt.
It wasn’t a quick fix, it took me days and days to complete this project, and finally on Sunday I was able to say that every single toy, down to the
rubbish trinkets you get with a Kiddies Meal had a place of its own. I started by clearing out everything (again) that they had outgrown and I also threw out all the broken toys (three wheeled cars, battery operated toys which had leaked battery fluid through the mechanical device, half eaten toys, 10 piece puzzles with only one piece in sight). Although there are many toys that I have duplicate of because they both love to play with them simultaneously (two prams, two pianos, 59 Barney’s, etc), I gave away a lot of the duplicates that they no longer fight over – all giveaways totalling two black bags full. And then the mother of all exercises, I took every single toy remaining and threw them out onto the lounge floor. I emptied the ball pond of everything that wasn’t a ball (it had become more like a dumping ground than a ball pond) and then emptied the balls and cleaned the pool of all the grit and grime that had collected there. I found about four dummies, six old crusty chicken nuggets, hundreds of Nik Naks, a shoe of Hannah’s we had been searching for for ages and my note book which I had lost back in November last year. I sorted toys according to category and size: animals together, cars together, soft toys together, and so on; toys too big to fit into the fabulous drawers I had purchased, books, buildings blocks and so on. I kept odd pieces from board games and puzzles with bright and distinguishable objects and started a collection of flash cards, clever hey? And then I started to repack. There are nine beautiful drawers – wide and deep, all at a child friendly level, so the kids can help themselves at all times and love that they are able to find exactly what they want, when they want it. They are actually quite pedantic about putting everything back in its place; heaven forbid if someone finds a block in the animal drawer… oh no… I get a full report about how “someone” must have made a mistake and how could that have happened? I’ve kept the hideous-for-toy-storage-but-pretty-to-look-at big bucket type of storage bins and have all the teddies in one and all the bigger toys like pushy, press buttony type of toys in the other. Note to self and any other toystruck parent, don’t use these big storage bins for teeny tiny toys which just get stuck at the bottom, never to return to the land of being played with, because children are generally surface grabbers – well mine are because I have warned advised them of the peril that awaits them if they EVER and I mean EVER upend that blinking box AGAIN. So now that there’s only bigger items in them, I don’t mind them strewing the bin’s contents all over the bedroom floor because it’s easy to pick up and clean up, because it can only hold about 15 big toys at maximum.
I’m glad to announce that the girly toys have finally made their appearance. Hannah’s (and Liam’s) dolly collection has grown considerably, and they too needed their own bin. Tea sets with cups, saucers, sugar bowls and tea pots, princess crowns and beautiful plastic chunky jewellery which they both love to don. A little dresser with a gazillion little pieces of hair accessories, stickers, brushes, combs and mirrors. I’ve waited for the girly toys for a long time, as Hannah preferred Liam’s cars, diggers and balls up until very recently and Liam and I have ourselves a ball with all the pink stuff, making each other fake cups of tea as Hannah moans at us for playing with her things.
Everything has its place and I love that our house looks like a house again, and not like a toy store just vomited in my lounge, as Sharon so eloquently put it! The only visible items are the chalk board, the two bins and the nine drawers. And as for the ball pond, well let’s just say that it hasn’t lost its allure afterall, see for yourself… 🙂