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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(Knew I'd grab ya with that title, LOL!)


It's been less than 24 hours, so I may be writing too soon, but I just have to share.

I have four kids, ages 3-9. We unschool so they are nearly always playing and there is nearly always a toy mess. Yesterday, as usual, I reminded them while they were mess-making that I expected them to take responsibility for cleaning up the mess in the evening. It's definitely within their capabilities, even the 3yo, if they work together. I gave them a number of reminders, and then when I said "It's time to clean up" they were mostly pretty uncooperative.

So...my feeling, and one I say often but act on less often, is that we should only have as much stuff as we can take responsibility for. This means cleaning toys up at least once a day. So I said, without being angry, that without help with clean-up I would likely put them all in the garage. I was really at the end of my rope, but I was calm and kind about it. I don't see it as a punishment but more as a practicality.

Well, they agreed. They were not happy but they agreed that it was for the best.
: So I told them they could each choose one thing to keep out, and we'd put the other stuff away for awhile. I assume that with time we'll bring things slowly back out, but maybe not. Here is what they chose:

3yo - doll (I decided to keep out two dolls, a few clothes, and the doll bed)
5yo - dress-up clothes (this included playsilks)
7yo - drawing and coloring supplies
9yo - nothing, LOL - he mostly reads or plays D&D or plays outside

The outside toys are still all out, and we have a climber and trampoline downstairs that are staying out. Also my 5yo very seriously asked if we could keep the wooden kitchen WITHOUT anything in it. She said they could just pretend. I said sure to that one. I also did not remove any of the books.

So the most amazing thing was, within an hour the living room was creatively covered with forts made from pillows and playsilks, and the kids were all in dressup clothes, and the dolls were in use. They all got so creative with the things they still have. They were totally happy, and it doesn't look like a tornado went through my house.

I guess I'm finally comfortable experimenting with minimalism. I was really and truly amazed at how creatively and happily they played with the stuff we kept out. We will see how long it lasts.

FWIW, we put away wooden blocks, stacking blocks, fairies/gnomes, wooden animals, playmobil guys, dollhouse and accessories, trains and train tracks, stuffed animals, all dolls but two, play kitchen food and supplies, and wooden puzzles. It's not like we had a ton of toys.

I didn't put away any games (in a different room, used just by the big kids) or art supplies. Also, my kids play outside a lot with things like sticks. I bet they get more creative outside, too.

I just had to share. I guess I will check back in in a week with an update.
I have read here several times that people cut their kids toys down to next to nothing, and I never believed I would do it, but I did. We will see how it goes! My living room looks so tidy
 

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Every time I change the toys in the toy area Hope gets to discover and play with toys that she forgot about. She loves it.

I love being able to see the living room floor (and her bedroom floor now too!) and how happy she is to play with her 'new' toys!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by amydawnsmommy View Post
Every time I change the toys in the toy area Hope gets to discover and play with toys that she forgot about. She loves it.

I love being able to see the living room floor (and her bedroom floor now too!) and how happy she is to play with her 'new' toys!
I often do a toy rotation, I'll put everything away in a tote but a few things, and when evan seems to lose interest in his toys I'll put those away and bring out some that were put away and he goes nuts!
 

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Wow!

I always relate to the things you write, for obvious reasons. (see my sig).

This summer we took a train to a small town where we spent the summer and so brought only what we could carry. For toys we brought one small lego set, and when we arrived we bought buckets and shovels for the sand, and some of that clay that never hardens.

My kids fought less, played more and our place was neat--excpet for the books of course. Granted we were outside all the time, and had ready access to swimming, tennis, hiking, and there was a garden the three bigger kids could play while I worked and could see them fromthe kitchen.

Also, My 3 yo who had spent the spring in a state of frustration as she kept trying to be included in her borthers' games finally was included because they NEEDED her to make the games interesting. Without toys they were so much more creative.

When we came back home, I did a big sweep (we have a lot of toys, all great quality--there are a few exceptions, of course--relatively expensive but often purchased second hand, carefully chosen, etc. etc. but there were just too many) and sold/gave away/donated quite a lot of things. They haven't even noticed. However, we still have a lot (my excuse is that it is soon winter in Moscow so we will be indoors a lot AND we don't have a safe place where the kids can play outside alone but supervised through a window.

The fighting is back, and so is the exclusion of my daughter, though to a lesser degree and she seems fine with that. The mess is certainly back.

You've inspired me!

Suzanne
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Totally great. Thanks for asking. We *still* end up with stuff all over the living room floor, and the kids *still* balk at cleaning it up, but it's a much smaller chore (and much easier for me to do myself if it comes to that).

No one has asked me to take anything back out from the garage.

It is really blowing my mind, because when I first had a toddler I thought I had to provide a wide variety of interesting, high-quality educational toys, and even more so after we decided we'd be homeschooling.

But I think maybe that is not necessary.

I don't know how it will feel in the dead of winter when we're all cooped up and trying not to drive as much (we live on a treacherous hill), but I can see this working for a long time.


I guess I should take more lessons from my kids!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post

I don't know how it will feel in the dead of winter when we're all cooped up and trying not to drive as much (we live on a treacherous hill), but I can see this working for a long time.

Just think though. In the dead of winter when everyone has been cooped up for days you can bring out just one of the toys that has been packed away and it will be a brand new exciting toy, that will excite them all over again.
 

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We have done the same thing because we are packing to move.
My 6 yo decided to keep his bionicles out, and my 3 yo decided to keep his play tools. The 6 yo has only asked for 1 other toy in the last several weeks, since I packed everything. I let him swap it out, but he has since swapped back. Whoda thought???
 

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That's an inspiring story. I am constantly culling toys, but find it harder for myself to let go I think lol. But I think I will definitley work on getting rid of more of the crappier things that just get tossed out of the toy boxes to get to what they really want.
 

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That's wonderful. I've been paring down toys too, but I just can't pare down to 1 or 2 things a child. They are all under 6, so toys are still important to them. But I did get rid of a lot. And what's left is organized very nicely.
 
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