Do you like italics as much as I do? Oh, good.
The room in need of wrangling into submission the most is--surprise--the playroom. Since the wee folk still sleep with us, we turned the never-really-used-as-such nursery into a playroom, and it's a delightfully sunny, cheerful, lovely room. But it's been mostly a disaster for a while now. Initially we had the bulk of their toys in the main room because that's where they were contained much of the time, but once they had free reign of the house, we thought designating an official playroom was a grand idea. But it quickly became so messy and unorganized, they didn't really want to spend any time in there. And I didn't blame them. And although they can and do drag toys all over the house, I'm definitely to the point of needing there to NOT be toys housed in every room.
When they were younger, I liked the idea of having some toys in every room and it made it easier for all of us. A basket of toys and books in the bedroom for first thing in the morning when they would wake up and hop off the bed, eager to start their day while we pretended we didn't notice they were awake so we could catch a few more minutes of sleep (gods, what happened to those days? Now if they're up, we're up--they make sure of it. SIGH.); their play kitchen in the kitchen so they could "cook" while I cooked; toys in the main room where we spend a lot of time; etc. But now it's just too much. And it's mostly too much because there's just TOO MUCH.
Seriously, where the hell did all this stuff come from? We don't even buy them much ourselves because we're mean parents like that, but all you need is a birthday, a couple of winter holidays, and a few various other holidays thrown in the mix and BAM. Toy overload.
And really, that makes it sound like we have a sea of toys in every room, which we most certainly do not. My kids have very few toys compared to some children their age and I consider that a good thing. And as their second birthday (FUUUUUUUUUU...) quickly approaches, I am attempting to preempt the collection growing significantly by reminding friends and family that gifts, especially toy gifts, are not required. Because they're not.
Allow me to illustrate why that is by sharing with you some of the things my children have most enjoyed playing with over the past couple of weeks:
-A cheap, thin, blue plastic tablecloth left over from a party we had earlier this summer. They fucking LOVE this thing. They'll lie down on the floor next to each other, pull it over themselves and just giggle to each other for like 20 minutes. I'm not even close to kidding. (Yes, I realize now typing this out that the likelihood of CPS knocking at my door has risen exponentially, but whatever. It's staying.) They also like playing follow the leader with it, each holding onto an opposing end and one essentially dragging the other around the house and yard. I also hang it over their pull-up bar, courtesy of the ever-awesome Grandpa Walrus, and they run under the bar through the tablecloth. Seriously. The possibilities are endless.
-A roll of duct tape. You know what they do with it? They roll it down the back steps. Over and over and over and over and over. And it is PERFECT for this. It has just enough give to bounce nicely but not crazily, and it's wide enough that it doesn't tip over, so it's easy for toddlers to set on edge and get going, and makes it down all the steps and beyond without fail. It also gives them an opportunity to practice taking turns, so double win.
-One of The Barbarian's glass carboys for making beer. For those of you unfamiliar with beer-making equipment, it's a very large glass bottle with a narrow neck. This they do with what you might expect--they fill it with stuff. All sorts of stuff. Chalk, wood chips, little figurines, leaves, rocks, food. They have quite the collection going currently. Getting it all out is sure to be loads of fun, but it's something they come back to again and again, they enjoy it so much. And it helps develop their fine motor skills, especially with the longer items, as they have to line them up just so to get them into the narrow neck. So again, win all around.
-Reusable grocery bags. You know, those weird like plasticized, crinkly ones? Yeah, definite favourites. They carry them around on their shoulders, they wear them with the handles looped over their necks, they put them entirely over their heads, they fill them with things and drag them around. They love them. I often don't even put them away after grocery trips because
-Baskets, dog collars, and sarongs. Think you need to buy or make your child dress-up clothes and accessories? Think again. Mine can often be found these days with a sarong tied around their chest like a gown (I think it might be in imitation of my ever-present apron), a dog collar around their neck, and a basket on their head. Seriously, have you met my kids? They're fucking awesome.
And all of this makes me so damn happy. Kids are naturally creative, but many toys these days are not. They are meant to do one thing and one thing alone. But things found in nature, household items, recycling? Endless possibilities. Do my kids love their actual toys? Of course they do. Just try separating King Toad Agooga from his toy cars or The Goblin Queen from her Duplos. But if they didn't have any of it, they would be just fine.
That being said, there are a few things that are always appreciated, things like books, classic toys like wooden trains, building materials like blocks, larger items good for active kids and gross motor skills like mini basketball hoops, t-ball sets, trampolines, trikes, etc. So we've asked people to choose amongst those for their birthday. We're limiting ourselves to one big gift for them this year like we usually do and I am SUPER STOKED about it. Details to come, of course.
So, yeah. Toys. They're anything. And everywhere. And a very good argument can be made for not purchasing so damn many for your children.
Because plastic sheeting and duct tape make great toys for toddlers.
Or call CPS.