Monday, April 23, 2012

Toy Overload

Toys took over this house years ago. We try to contain them into certain areas, but it doesn't last more than a day. Pirate is a toy hoarder, and he carries handfuls of toys with him everywhere. And his toys are tiny. His favorites are action figures - little tiny Star Wars guys, little tiny Batman guys, and little tiny pirates. They all have weapons (where his obsession with weapons must come from), that I find all over the place. I found two tiny swords and a machine gun in my bed last week. He knows everything he has, too. When the swords and gun were missing, he knew exactly what he was looking for, but he just didn't remember where he left it.  We keep some toys in the big kids' room, some in the baby boys' room, some in the living room, and tons in the basement. Slowly but surely, by the end of the day, the toys have migrated into all the other rooms of the house. Every night we put up with the same complaining about cleaning up the toys. Princess states that she didn't make the mess. This is usually true, but we tell her that since we cleaned up for her when she was the only child she has to help her brothers put things away. Pirate starts to say he's "just really tired". Then we ask him if he wants to have his snack and he perks up and says yes. Then we say he's not that tired and to start cleaning up. Trouble actually starts putting toys away, but then counters that good action by dumping out another bin of toys, doubling the mess.

Here's how my kids "play". Pirate will take out a bunch of toys, usually little tiny ones, but with a few bigger ones mixed in. He will hoard them all in a corner of the couch and surround himself with pillows "so that Trouble doesn't take my stuff". Or he will sit in the big chair with all of his guys crammed in behind him. He'll play with them for a little while, getting up occasionally to add another random toy to the mix. Then he'll decide he wants to play with something else. So, he'll completely disregard the first pile of toys, leave it where it is, and move onto another hoarding spot with another pile of toys. Same goes for books, he'll drop whatever he was looking at to get something else, never putting anything away in between. Trouble will dump out a bin of toys on the floor, pick out a few to play with and leave the pile on the floor. Within minutes, he throws the toys across the room and grabs something else. Instead of driving the trains and cars on the train table, he drives them across the TV stand, resulting in Princess screaming at the top of her lungs, "MOVE, TROUBLE!!!", which usually results in me yelling at her for being so loud. Donkey will take one toy and walk around with it. He is just happy to be walking around the room instead of being stuck in the play yard. He has just recently gotten into the stage of dumping loads of toys onto the floor. Princess doesn't really play with toys much. Sometimes she'll go into her room and get out all the Barbie stuff and play for a while, only if the boys leave her alone. Most of the time she just wants to play Wii or her DS or games on the computer. (Damn electronics!)

We also experience what I refer to as the "Trickle Down Effect" with toys. When Princess sees Pirate playing nicely, she wants to take his toys. On the rare occasions where Trouble is actually sitting and playing with something, Pirate takes something away from him. When Donkey is walking around with his toy, Trouble takes it from him. Why do they do that? Why can't they let each other be happy and content? The boys constantly steal toys from one another. I guess that's the nature of having siblings.

New toys are exciting for a few days, maybe a week or so tops. Then they end up in the toy box with everything else. They end up broken or lose pieces and become junk. I feel bad because other people spend their money on these toys, and the kids don't appreciate them. Princess is finally at the point where she takes care of her toys. But it took close to eight years for her to get there! Pirate and Trouble both have summer birthdays, only 3 weeks apart. So, we have combined parties for them every year. Sometimes we ask for combined gifts for them, like the sand table, the playhouse, and the water table. Those still get used every year. Last year they got a train table. I thought it would be a great idea. They loved trains, and how fun is a table with all those accessories? It took a long time for my husband to put together.

How could they not love this?! They did, at first. But after time, the train tracks were destroyed, and the table became a storage spot, with crap piled all over it.

This weekend, we rearranged our basement. We wanted to move all of the toys to one side, then have the other part for the sofa and TV, kind of separating it into two spaces. It's a really small room, but we made it work. Princess and Pirate spent the day with my grandparents on Saturday, so we had less kids in our way. During nap time, my husband and I started moving the toys, but decided to get rid of a bunch of them. There were toys that I didn't even realize we had.

one of the piles of toys
 We got rid of anything broken or missing pieces, put some things in a pile for a yard sale we want to have in a few weeks, and organized everything else. It took a LONG time. I laughed that they were the ones that made all the messes and we were the ones cleaning and organizing, again.  Then I went through the bookshelf and cleaned out the books, threw away ones that were ripped, missing pages, and the few that were just covers. No clue where the pages to those books ended up!

By the time we finished everything, the kids were in bed, so yesterday was the first test with the new arrangement. Unsurprisingly, things were all over the place within an hour. I showed them how to clean up and put the toys in the right spots, and by last night when it was clean up time, they got it right. We'll see how long it lasts...

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