Thursday, April 7, 2016

Paralyzed by Stuff

In a large family especially, there is always a negotiation (a war?) going on with toys:

  • How many toys are enough? 
  • How many are too many?

I like the idea of being minimalist, but I find that it doesn't quite work in a homeschooling family with multiple ages. Why not?

  1. We live in this house all the time. While I teach this or that child, I need every other child to be occupied with something interesting that does not require my interaction or supervision.
  2. With five different ages, they all have different interests.

That said, still the toys grow too many. I judge 'too many' as more than the children can care for by themselves. It's not my job to pick up their toys.

Their bedrooms are good, and the children are capable of keeping those rooms clean. Both rooms contain books, then the girls' room contains dolls and a kitchen set, while the boys' room contains Legos and the dress-up clothing. That's it.

But the children are not capable of keeping the Play Room picked up. The mess becomes an utterly overwhelming explosion of toys, resulting in weeping, accusations of others not helping, and Mama losing her temper.

The play room gets much messier than this!

As a fellow mom and I were addressing this issue in our respective homes and conversing between each other, we experienced the good timing of coming across this article: "Is Stuff Paralyzing Today's Children?" by blogger Daniel Lattier.

Room to play

My response was an experiment in a middle way between a toy explosion and being minimalist. I took about half the toys in the Play Room and put them away in the convenient little side attic in that very room. Just opened a door, stuck the bins of toys in there, and shut the door. The room is so open, the shelves have only half as much stuff on them, and the mess is much smaller.

My hope is that the children will rediscover old toys, play with more creativity, and be able to manage their own messes better.

I figure it will take about one minute, perhaps two, for me once a week to swap out the toys in that little attic, keeping things varied and interesting.

Time will tell!

1 comment:

  1. This is a continuous issue here for the same reasons. I keep putting away/throwing away more and more stuff. It only barely effects the mess. I joke that my kids could make a mess out of air. We have a lot of legos lately. The three oldest play with them regularly. I bought this big mat with a draw string to keep them neat. But they still disperse lego EVERYWHERE. There is my little pity party. Make sure you update and let us know how it goes.