June 24, 2015

Embracing the Toy Years

We have toy clutter.

A LOT of toy clutter.

This is because we have a lot of toys.

Do we have too many toys?


Do we need to "cull the herd," as my husband is fond of saying?


But even once we cull the herd...and do a major-league organizing overhaul, as I manage to do once or twice a year...we will still have toy clutter.


Because we have a 4 and a 6 year old.

And while I am not a fan of clutter of any kind. And I am not a fan of looking at piles of toys all the time...which aren't appealing to the eye even when they're cleaned up. I've come to a conclusion:

These are The Toy Years.

You begin life as a parent in the Baby Contraption Years. That's when your house is taken over by swings and bouncy seats and pack-n-plays and high chairs.

Then you breathe this giant sigh of relief as you pack up those monstrosities. And you think to yourself, "Finally, no more baby clutter."

And then the toys move in.

First there are the Big Toy Years, when your world is taken over by giant play kitchens and kid-sized tables and chairs and Little Tykes cars. Then come the little parts...Legos of every color, shape and size and tons of teeny-tiny Playmobil parts and Littlest Pets accessories. Not to mention art supplies EVERYWHERE.

At the moment, I sit astride both of these stages...we still have a play kitchen and we have lots of Legos. The only kind of house filled with more kid clutter than ours is one with more kids...especially if you add a baby (and all of their contraptions) into the mix.

Which we will not.

But I digress.

So we have a lot of toy clutter. Everywhere. All the time.

And sometimes it drives me nuts. And I think it drives my husband nuts pretty much all of the time. (This is illustrated by him threatening to throw all of the toys away at least twice a day.)

But the thing is...our desire for a clutter-free home is not really in keeping with our desire for happy kids and a relaxed life. And I'm not entirely sure what it's driven by...though I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a combination of the tidy homes we both grew up in and the Pottery Barn catalog.

Either way, I've decided to try and let go of my constant desire for things to be picked up and put away and nice and neat. I really don't want to have a constant "organizational/decluttering/cleaning" buzz in the back of my brain...I imagine it sounding a lot like those old blue-glowing bug zappers. (Do they still make those? I had a friend as a kid whose house backed up to the woods and they had one by their patio. I can still hear it...dtzzzz...dtzzzz...dtzzzz.)

The day will come...and it will come quicker than I would like...when there won't be any toys anymore. They won't want to build crazy flying contraptions with their Legos and they won't want to create forts from blankets and pillows and they won't want to use their beautiful imaginations to create elaborate games that involve getting out every flippin' toy in the house.

And some days that will feel great...to have a house that is once again mine. But mostly, I think I'll miss this. A lot.

So I'm going to embrace The Toy Years. And I'm going to carefully step through that minefield in my family room...because stepping on Legos hurts like hell. And I'm not going to shake my head when I walk into my daughter's room and see the fifty million things she has displayed on the top of her dresser or the ridiculous number of toys in her closet or the unkempt stack of books on the floor beside her bed.

I will still cull the herd a bit. Because there are toys they don't play with that can be donated so someone else can enjoy them. But the rest of the stuff? I'm just going to let it go and live in it.

And smile.

Because these are The Toy Years. And they're pretty great.

Until next time, spend some time enjoying the stage of life you're in right now. Whatever it is. Quit fighting against it and trying to make it something it's not. Let it go and live in it.

Embrace it.

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