Sunday, July 16

The Magic of Three Toys and a Little Imagination

Our children gave us a valuable lesson this weekend and they didn’t even know it! We have been having trouble getting Emily (3-1/2) to pick up the toys that she and her sister (1-1/2) toss about – and sometimes actually play with in – the game room. We have tried rewards, punishment, and taking toys away that aren’t picked up without success. She has actually become quite defiant about it.

On Friday night daddy reached the end of his patience. He took the six tubs of toys and moved them to the guest room. Then, of the toys that still hadn’t been picked up, he had Emily choose three to play with while the other toys stay put away [insert collective gasp here]. You would think that a child who just had her toys taken away and was given a choice of only three to play with, would be pitching a fit. Nope!

Emily chose these toys – three for herself and three for Mia.

They also have their weekly basket of books. We swap out books weekly or bi-weekly (some of the same favorites are always in the basket) so that we get a chance to rotate through all our books.

The past two days have showed us that our children really do not need access to six tubs of toys on a daily basis. We have watched them play with these six toys and the two baskets with great imagination! The two Little People tricycles were pretend pops at one point, the two Little People ladies dressed in their party best have been wonderful mothers to the cow and the chick, and the turned over baskets make a great stage for singing performances.

So, now what are we going to do? At this point, I’m really not sure! I have thought of making a clean up chart. A week of picking up their six toys and the books when asked will give them the opportunity to select another toy. Eventually all the toys that currently live in the tubs now residing in the guest room might make it back into the game room, but it might take until they’re in Middle School!

The lesson: we don’t need a lot of toys to make our children happy. I’m still having a little trouble with my hubby’s desire to keep it this way forever, but I’m open to seeing how it goes. I'm interested to hear feedback on this -- your own experiences, you think we're absolutely horrible parents, you'll file this away for future use (if needed)...all thoughts and suggestions are welcome!