Those of you who have been reading for a while know that there’s an ongoing battle against toy clutter happening in the Morgan household. For the first 20 months of Eva’s life, we were hostages to the toy situation. Small plastic items were everywhere and we bought so many bins and baskets and bags that our house started to look like a tag sale.
Around this time last year, I had had enough and we dramatically decreased the number of toys in Eva’s room. There was no fuss from her and we were pleased to see that she actually thrived in her cleaner environment and spent more time playing with the remaining toys. Over time, we added a couple of Montessori kitchen stations and then gave up on that idea and added a play kitchen/grocery store combination that has both been a huge hit and also decreased the number of small plastic vegetables we needed to store in her room. I also switched out the colorful bags and plastic items in her room for simple baskets and educational toys, always with the idea that the plastic toys would eventually come back.
The goal was to rotate the toys once every two months so that she was constantly interested and refreshed. Well. That sort of happened. Except I also went on bed rest and we had another baby and the kid clutter exploded again. We lost motivation to keep rotating items and somehow Eva continued to collect more and more toys even though we told ourselves we weren’t buying her anything and before I knew it it had been a year and most of her toys had never come back into rotation and holy crap it’s Christmas.
Major guilt this year. Guilt that a lot of her toys spent the whole year in storage. Guilt that too many new toys creeped back into her room and ended up broken or scattered because we haven’t been great about cleaning before bed. Guilt that, despite my big talk about simple toys and Montessori living, Kyle and I got Eva a whole bunch of toys with buttons and plastic pieces and branded characters for the holidays.
None of the things we bought her made it to the top of her list this year. She was completely overloaded by too many similar items and ended up focusing mainly on craft kits, kitchen play, and this easel from her uncles. She also got a Doc McStuffins check up clinic and she’s been peering into our ears ever since. It came with stickers and small dolls, but that otoscope apparently just takes the cake.
Last night, I cleared out her room. I did this for a couple of reasons: (1) although much of the Christmas chaos ended up in the kitchen or is destined for the new living room art center I’m dreaming up, the rest was waiting out in the hall to come in and (2) I feel like Eva will enjoy the new stuff more if the old stuff isn’t an option.
That last statement is tricky and I’ll tell you right off the bat that Kyle doesn’t agree with me. He hates when I do this. He feels (perhaps justly?) that if Eva is enjoying a toy or has enjoyed a toy anytime in the recent weeks, that it’s mean to put it in storage where she can’t get to it. I don’t know. He might be right, but she just seems so much more content when the clutter is cut down. So I did it. He’ll deal. It’s not like she didn’t just get 50 new things.
I did make some tough choices though. I swept up a ton of Montessori toys that Eva isn’t really into, even though some of them are probably just a little ahead of where she is now developmentally. I was tempted to leave them because I wanted her to sit and study them quietly, but realistically she’s just not interested. Hopefully they’ll come back out of storage soon.
I also got rid of some books, making them the only things I took out of her room with the intent to donate. They’re mostly large beautiful picture books from artists like Mercer Mayer and Steven Kellogg, but they were 95% ex-library books, which means that they had library stickers on the spine and were in pretty used condition. It was hard to see them go, but Eva has too many books and I’m going to hold out for nicer copies. Plus, many of them were at least five years ahead of where she is now and they weren’t nice enough to save until then. In the last year alone, she’s gotten 50+ new books. Obviously, her library isn’t in danger of not providing enough reading material.
The hardest decisions were on toys that Eva plays with often. Yes, I’m mean. I put many in storage. The biggest gap is going to be her Calico Critters, which she does love. My problem with them is that she scatters the little pieces everywhere and then they get lost or broken. She has enough stuff coming in that I’m hoping it won’t be sad for her that her bunnies and pandas and cats (oh my!) moved out of her room. And, of course, they’re supposed to come back at some point.
What did I leave? Lots. Blocks, musical instruments, some games, baby doll stuff, dress up, books, and all of her new toys from Christmas. It’s a little blank, but she does have arts/crafts stuff in the living room and a very impressive play food situation going on in our kitchen. And she’s two. She doesn’t need the moon.
It’s funny how much guilt I still have over how many toys she has access to. What is that? Why am I hardwired to want to provide her with a Toys R Us? I mean, Laura Ingalls Wilder had that corn cob doll and a pig bladder balloon and her childhood was happy enough to write a book about. Perspective.