Monday, February 2, 2009

Our Pioneer Living Experiment--Toys#2

The kids' closet, where we keep the "play-sets" and puzzles and blocks and books that are non-board books that we don't want torn. The blue tub is for clothes they have outgrown, which I'll sort to save or give away before yard sale season.

So, now that we've cut back to 5 toys a child, how is it working out for us?

Here are some of my observations:

*The first day I told my husband about it and he said, "Yes! Let's do this ALL the time!"

*The kids play just as heartily as ever before and have just as much fun.

*The house looks a LOT less cluttered and is so easy to pick up a couple of times a day.

*I rotate their toys every few days. When they're sleeping, I'll take one or two of their allotted toys and exchange them. What they don't know is that one of their toyboxes actually ended up in my bedroom (with a blanket over it) so I can quickly rotate toys without having to go to the shed to do it. However, it's no trouble to pop out to the shed to rotate the bigger toys. They are thrilled to wake up and discover different toys to play with for the day. Definitely not a luxury the real pioneer kids had!

*The kids can play with one or two play-sets at a time and then they must pick them up and I put them on the shelf before getting them a new set.

*When we had some friends (3 toddler/preschoolers) over for a playdate I forgot to pull more toys out of the shed for all of the kids. Surprisingly, they all did very well with just the 10 toys (even though Jer was probably holding 5 of them), due to the fact that I had blown up a few balloons and had pulled the tool toy sets out to play with too.

*Kids will always find a way to make a mess. While the 5-Toy experiment has been WONDERFUL, don't expect that it will mean no cleaning up and de-cluttering. I have been amazed at how my kids still find more than 5 things to litter about. Shoes, clothes, magnets from the refrigerator, papers, toys they've found in obscure places that didn't make it into the boxes going to the shed, puzzle pieces, blocks from play-sets that didn't make it back in the box, etc.

*My laundry baskets have gotten a workout. The kids have spent so much time playing in them pretending they are boats or cars or houses.

*I forgot to mention in my previous post that I limited the board books to only 5 for both of them to share as well as cutting down the toys. Books were a major source of clutter and since we still have two baskets full of out-of-reach books that I can read to them we don't need tons of books littering the house. Books can be rotated daily if need be.

*A couple from our church goes to Africa every spring to do medical missions for a few months. Every year they take little toys to give to the kids. They are collecting little used and new toys this month at church and it was perfect timing to get rid of some of the little things my kids don't need or use anymore. Those kids have absolutely nothing and are so excited to get one matchbox car or little teddy bear. Of course I didn't give away toys that were special gifts from family members or favorites they especially love to play with, but with all that we have, we can definitely share with kids in need when an opportunity arises.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about CLOTHES.


The Three 22nds said...

Very interesting. I thought about it when I first heard of your idea, and I suspected something similar would happen in our house.

I do end up picking up a lot of toys, but a lot of what gets messy is other stuff, like you said- shoes, coasters, etc.

I struggle with this because I like it when my kids mix the dinos with the duplos or the cars live with the knights in the castle. I think it encourages creative play. so I don't even have rules about how much they can have out at once, they mix 'n match to their hearts content. But, I don't think that my kids have as many toys as a lot of their friends either.

thanks for the post! I am looking forward to the clothes post!

Thia said...

Your reflections on the toy experiment are pretty much the same here. I decided against doing their books though. As for messes...they still find ways, that is for sure!

Lesley said...

Awesome! We do a lot of toy rotating too, although we could probably do it a lot more often. The girls are always thrilled when we bring out the stuff they haven't played with in awhile. I finally decided that they could have one toy box in their room and whatever couldn't fit in it had to be put in hiding in plastic tubs in the basement.
It's amazing how the toys seems to multiply though! I wonder where they come from sometimes. It must be Christmas and all the things Grandma keeps bringing over. :-)

I found it funny that your kids are playing with clothes baskets lately because that's exactly what the girls have been playing with around here! They sit in them together and pretend they are in boats and they "paddle" around and have a great time! Who needs toys when you can have fun with a clothes basket??

Anyway, good ideas you've got here!

Heather said...

I'm with Lesley--long live the clothes baskets! Kids invent endlessly creative play with them.

Today my girls took the mattress off the futon (with our help) and Kardelen did somersaults on it. Then they walked through the futon frame--it looked like Sofia was in boot camp! I wondered why I hadn't done this before on a crazy day?!

anna said...

just an idea about your books (since i am working in an elementary school library right now) its is a REALLY good idea (and encouraged by almost ALL teachers) to let kids of all ages have access to all sorts of books. even paper books. we have always had an entire bookshelf of books for ryann in our livingroom (since before she was born) and she has ripped a page only once. we have always encouraged her to look at books and we read to her all the time and she LOVES her books. from a very young age we told her how to handle her books and how to put them away and she has been great with them. (and believe me, she is a pro at destroying things) we just always remind her how special books are and we havent had a problem. we dont have to keep an eye on her at all with her books. we recently started going to the library and she always talks about how to be careful with her books. plus, its really nice when kids come to school and know how to handle books. some kindergartners came to school this year and had to clue how to even turn a paper page without tearing it. so just a suggestion from the teacher/librarian in me!

(by the way, Ryann just turned 3 last weekend, so she's still pretty young and does great with her books)

Mrs. Jo said...

Thanks for the tip Anna. We've normally had tons of books out for the kids but no matter how much I have tried to train them not to stand on them or be rough with them or rip them, they still do. So, at different times I have put out lots of books that I don't really care as much about and have kept the precious books up high. Ali looks through books during rest time each day but then we clean them up.

I agree that kids should have lots of books so maybe we'll end up deciding to not do just the 5 book thing after this experiment.

R Dvorak said...

We have also cut back on toys. Each year before Christmas we weed through our toys and donate as many as we can. Some end up in the trash too. Some go into the keepsake tote. And we end up with just a few for daily play times.

We also have the rule of one thing at a time. So only one puzzle out at a time or one game. If legos are out, nothing else should be played with at at the same time. It saves on clean up.

I find that the pioneer children learned the responsibility of caring for their belongings. After all when your birthday gift is a book and an orange, you cherish it as long as possible.

Great job! You are a wonderful mom!

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