The great toy purge

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photo(1)Before William had even reached the age of one, I heard my friends and fellow parents’ warnings that toys seem to multiply mysteriously. We don’t know when it will happen (maybe as we sleep?), but one way or another they end up taking over your house. At the time we only had a few blocks, stuffed animals, and rattles for Will to play with, so I couldn’t even imagine what they were talking about.

Even after his first Christmas and throughout his first year, we just didn’t seem to collect toys. In my naivety, I threw William a huge first birthday celebration with the intention of greatly expanding our rather small toy collection. It went as planned and now our toys were getting more interesting, but still not overwhelming.

Fast forward a couple of years…now two kids, a few birthdays, and of course Christmases and our toys are officially taking over our house. During these years, Jason and I made another fatal mistake in the toys v. humans war – we created a room solely designated for toys (aptly called the playroom). You might be pondering how this could be a mistake. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you and hopefully you will learn from us. Now that we have a room that we could just throw everything into, we quickly lost track of the toys and they seemed to multiply even faster. It’s a lot easier to overlook the quality and quantity when it’s in a room that you can just throw it into and close the door. Not to mention, we just gave them a breeding ground.

The other day I looked around and realized that we had toys that had never been played with. We also seemed to be hanging onto broken toys, toys missing pieces, and toys that were no longer age appropriate. Jason and I easily agreed that it was time to go through and weed out.

I’ve heard that some parents go through with their children and explain that they are giving to children less fortunate or even more age appropriate and teach a valuable lesson during the purge. Jason and I are not those parents. We put our boys down for a nap and got to work. It was quickly obvious our individual downfalls. Jason was reluctant to remove anything that had been played with in the last two years. If he ever witnessed either boy playing with a toy, he was quick to defend it’s rightful place in the playroom. Mine was all sentimental. Favorite toys from years ago that neither child has touched in ages. Toys that took me forever to find, but that I knew Will would love (and he did). It was just too hard to get rid of things that once brought so much joy.photoWe made a smart move and decided to divide some toys to take to each grandparents house. Now things that weren’t favorites, but we just couldn’t imagine parting with yet, remained with our kids and found a home, but not ours. And yes, we did donate all the other toys that no longer had a place in our home.

Even though we felt a little saddened to see some of these toys go, now that they’re gone I don’t miss them a bit. The room is still not as empty as I’d hoped, but we did make a nice dent. Neither boy has even noticed a difference.

During the purge, Jason and I discussed the future of gifts. Since last Christmas I’ve been rethinking our traditions in gift giving. The boys have more toys than they know what to do with. I really don’t mind the spoiling on the day, but lugging everything home and finding a place just seemed so crazy this past year. There was just too much stuff.

I understand that toys will come and go. There will be favorites that will change with age and preferences. New movies will premiere and new interests will evolve causing toys to rotate, go out of style, or just general loss of interest . This is the first purge of many to come. How you decide how much is enough and when does it become too much?

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