The Grand Experiment

It is a truth universally (or at least in consumer-happy America) acknowledged that where a child lives, toys abound.

Ergo, with five children…toys. Oh, the toys.

Here in our home, it seems to have become worse since the boys all moved in together. Having four of them in one room means that every last boy-type toy lives in their room with them. I have spent many hours scheming to make them better organized…many hours nagging at them to put them away. Even so, each night at bedtime I look around their room, sigh, and walk out, dodging Lego pieces and army men so my bare feet do not meet their demise.

Every year when we go on vacation, we rent a house. To that house we bring one set of toys (usually Legos or matchbox cars) and books. Every year I return home and think how blissfully happy it was for just that week to have so few toys to pick up, put away, trip over, etc. The children are more creative with fewer options. Peace abounds, and the angels sing.

The thing is, I’ve known this ever since I had Cameron. I tried very hard to keep the number of toys down from the get-go. But for some reason in the last year or two, with homeschooling more, and the baby….weeding out toys has been low on the priority list. We still do it, but a brown grocery bag full of stuff every month or two doesn’t make a dent when you have five kids with Christmas and birthdays and…and…and…

So as I type this, we are performing “radical surgery.” Instead of choosing things we want to give away, we’ve chosen the things we want to keep out: matchbox cars, Legos, action figures, and trains. Everything else is going away. The stuff that is not in those categories is not necessarily getting thrown out or donated, but it’s going out of sight/out of mind for a while. We might sort it later. We might not.

Right now I am fighting every step of the way the little protests that come, “but this is my favorite…” “Look what I found!”. But the truth of the matter is that none of those “favorites” get played with. They get taken out, dropped on the floor, and forgotten. I’m done with that.

My hope is that the kids will see the freedom and joy that comes from having fewer things. They will have more time in their days, not having to sort and put away 10,392 varieties of toys. They will have more peace in their minds, exploring what they can do with the toys they enjoy the most.

I’ll update you on how it goes.

6 Responses to “The Grand Experiment”

  1. cascadingwaters

    Oh for the days of Laura loving her one rag doll, Charlotte!I hear ya, Kel. I work hard to keep the lid on, too, and every so often get the urge to throw it ALL out…but I am told by my husband that this is not an acceptable option.


  2. Rachael Starke

    I'll look forward to the updates (and lift you up in prayer 🙂 ).My girls have the opposite problem – they play with all their toys. Sometimes at once. Every single animal has a name and a story; every tiny shoe, hair…thing, etc. is intimately known and cherished, even if it's been ground into the carpet and recently discovered by a….displeased…Daddy at 4 a.m.


  3. Melanie

    Sounds like an adventure! What I do here is that anything with multiple little pieces goes up on the shelf in their closet. If they want to play with it, then they first have to clean up their room (which is mainly scattered with books and stuffed animals) and then the toy with pieces can come out. If they want to play with another toy with pieces, they have to clean up the first toy, I put it away, then get out the other toy with pieces. Me and lots of little pieces DO NOT go hand in hand. I had to nip this one in the bud early…Same with crayons. If Mallory wants to color, she gets 8 crayons. No more, otherwise they'd be everywhere. And it has to be cleaned up before she does anything else. And even though I'm pretty good at this process, I still wonder how things get so messy by the end of the day. It's amazing how messy kids can be…


  4. Stefanie

    Good luck! They don't realize it now but they will absolutely be happier. We did that with Abby and I don't think she even remembers she has the toys.I think I had other toys when I was a child, but I definitely only played with a doll and some barbies (okay more like tons of barbies but they were in a nice bin).


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