I could have entitled this post "Things That Come With Having Children" but I didn't. Take that.
If you have children you know that they come with a lot of crap. I've been thinking about toys and organization. Organizing kid crap. (I'm wondering how many times I can say 'crap' on my blog without a phone call from my mother.)
Anyway. A couple of times each year I go through things and walk off to Goodwill with about 200 bags of stuff. That time has come, my friends. A week or so ago I went through the kid crap in my house.
Broken toys go in the garbage unless they can be easily repaired AND are a very most favorite. Otherwise, they're gone. Fast food toys go in the garbage (except for the week prior to a big, long drive - then they are pitched after). If it has missing pieces or parts, it goes. Papers lying around go in the garbage, too.
In the past couple of weeks, I have audited all of our toys with the following things in mind:
- Mabel is growing, so the toys she likes to play with and can learn from is greatly different than they were even 6 months ago. She enjoys imaginary play now, so for Christmas I'm targeting a dollhouse with furniture and a kitchen stove/set.
- Andrew is getting older, but he still enjoys playing with toys. Batman is still a heavy favorite. By and large, however, I have trimmed down to only his most favorites because the rest gather dust. I finally got rid of a Rescue Heroes ship that he's had since 2005. For years, he carried that thing around all the time imagining all sorts of adventures on its planks. Andrew's interests are widening as he ages as well. His bike and books are more important now.
- Trevor doesn’t play with toys much anymore. He is into books, team sports and electronic games now. Legos are the exception.
I realized as I was purging that, even BEFORE my purge, we have at least four times as many books as we do toys in our home. That makes me feel good!
I've always struggled to keep everything sorted. The boys shared toys, so historically I have sorted by type: plastic dudes, animals, vehicles, and building blocks. Over the years I've kept these collections in various baskets or boxes within easy reach. Most recently I kept them in open, stacking, plastic stock bins. Eventually this irritated me because the dragon toes and Batman arms fell through the bin walls and got stuck. Or the bins got knocked over and came unstacked, while their contents spilled everywhere. Argh! Nothing will bring you closer to Jesus than stepping on a triceratops horn at 3am. Except perhaps Barbie shoes - but those are still a myth to me for another few years.
So when I purged last week, I stuck those bins out on the curb and they were gone in 15 minutes. Instead I am now using 4 clear Sterilite containers in 2 different sizes - 2 for each boy. I don't care what they combine or keep in there (collection-wise, I mean). They have locking lids and provide the ability to see through to the contents inside. In the future when the boys have their own rooms, the containers can stack be stored in their closets.
Mabel's toys aren't as easy to sort. Right now, they are in the toybox.
Lots of plastic food and pots and pans, currently. Doll babies and Webkins. This toy box is moving to her room very shortly. We keep all Barbie Dolls and Barbie clothes (these are a BIG favorite with Mabel and H) in a vintage suitcase. Fun for her to tote around and certainly makes me feel good about not using more plastic for storage.
Books are more complicated. I hate to purge a book unless it is trashed or a baby book. I think the best idea is to sort by child/area of interest, with the assumption that they will trade as they want. Andrew still likes small books, but he is reading chapter books now and has even started Harry Potter. Trevor reads only long chapter books now. That's about half our stock to be divided between the two of them. Mabel will get almost everything else.
My new idea for storage will not be bookcases because we don't have room for one in each room, but that is a logical place to keep books. What I do have on hand are metal bins that can be used for the books. The kids can keep the bins out in their room or tucked away in their closets.
I also went through dress up items during my purge last week, keeping Halloween in mind but being diligent about getting rid of items that are unliked, too small, missing parts, or broken/ripped. Also tossed forty-eleven swords that we had from various costumes, circus visits, or pirate day at the library. Come to think of it those suckers were plastic, so I recycled them.
Stuffed animals are a pain in my ass. A necessary one, I realize. I have two children who adore stuffed friends. Trevor never latched on to one and would toss it on the floor at night if he fell asleep with one. Andy and Mabel, however, are completely different. Both sleep surrounded by their friends (and actually they share/fight over friends on a daily basis). I struggle with this.
I try to limit any incoming stuffed animals and I donate those who are left behind. But this battle rages on.
For school and church papers, I keep a plastic bin (repurposed from some other household use - think it might actually be a tub used for washing dishes) out of the way. When the papers come home, I sort them immediately and only keep what is reasonable in size, has all it's pieces (not losing googly eyes, for example), and touches my heart. Then I make sure that their name and age/grade is on the paper and I put it in the bin. Then when the bin is full, I cull through them again and put the papers into Avery Presentation books (divided by child).
That's it for kid crap. Later!