Minimalism is a buzz word that has taken over social media lately. Everyone wants to purge their house and buy less stuff. Less is more. Unless you are a small child, in which case, every McDonald’s toy you have ever gotten is precious to you and your most favorite toy ever. If you are a small child, the idea of getting rid of your toys is upsetting and awful and means that you have the worst mom. At least that’s been my experience.
Usually, having my house is overrun with toys doesn’t bother me. During the week, there are four kids under the age of 5 in my house. We need toys. Of course we need all these toys. Until my anxiety flares and changes start to pile up, then moving the same toy ten times a day makes me feel angry instead of mildly annoyed. I toss toys into overflowing bins and threaten to throw out all the Lego scattered on the floor. I become the mean mom.
Six weeks ago, I hit that point. Frustrated and antsy, I needed something to change. But I needed to do it in a way that my kids would embrace. I could not handle any meltdowns. Driving back from the grocery store, I was struck by inspiration.
“Do you boys know what this week is?” I fill my voice with enthusiasm.
“Christmas. Disneyland. YouTube.” My big dude certainly has high hopes. I’m not sure little dude is listening, he’s busy lip-syncing to the Frozen soundtrack.
“Nooooo. It’s Imagination week.” I make it sound better than Christmas, Disneyland and YouTube.
“Really?” My big dude is hard to trick. He has no idea what I’m talking about but he’s suspicious.
“It sure is. Imagination week is when we pack up all of our toys – except our Lego and Shopkins” – let’s be serious – “and the toys in your rooms” – mostly Lego and Shopkins – “and use our Imaginations all week.”
“Let’s just go to Disneyland.” It’s a good counter-offer but, sadly for big dude, not in my budget.
“We can’t go to Disneyland during Imagination week. It will be awesome. You will have so much room to play and build obstacle courses.” Obstacle courses are a big hit in my house. I was confident that the promise of obstacle courses would overcome any lingering concerns.
After assuring big dude and little dude (who had finished Letting It Go), that it would only be a week and no toys would actually leave the house (we’d just stack them in my husband’s office), Imagination week officially began. Five large garbage bags full of toys were placed in the office, along with the large superhero hideouts. For the first time in weeks I felt like I could breathe. The floor was clean, the toys bins in the corner weren’t overflowing with toys, and my dining room table was completely clear.
I was prepared for a long week of whining and begging for this toy or that toy. I thought that it would be a challenge for my boys and, honestly, for myself as well. It wasn’t. The first thing my little dude did upon seeing all the empty toy bins was set up his laundry room in my kitchen using the bins as washers and dryers. We spent an hour, washing his socks in the bins, as he made up songs about doing laundry. When he was done, he was off to the basement to jump and run and twirl. Big dude was just as happy.
It’s been six weeks. The toys are still stacked in the office. In six weeks, they have asked for the packed away toys once. They needed their superhero hideouts – so we pulled those out. A few McDonald’s toys have been added to the mix but I can still breathe. And the boys can build, jump, twirl and run.
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