The ‘Worst Week’
of my Kids’ Lives
was really the ‘Best Week’

So… it finally happened.
Mommy lost it.
I just couldn’t take picking up a full puzzle’s pieces, every fake food from the play kitchen,
a hundred million blocks, all the pieces from the doctor kit, trucks, trains, train tracks,
every item from the dress-up box (including that pretend earring I stepped on again),
books, instruments, cash registers, puppets, all the stuffed animals, the toy horses…
even just one more time. I could. not. do it!
Only to go out into the Living Room and find more books all over the floor,
shoes, cars and car tracks, stacker rings, and more
all over THAT floor.

Commence break-down. 

Like, FINALLY, though.
It happened.

In fact, I bawled according to the dictionary definition of ‘catharsis,’ and then some.

But then…
*trumpets sound*
in rode my knight on a white horse:
my husband.

Jesse got home from work and finally saw the broken dam of what I keep at bay all day every day.
I kind of didn’t know what to say…
like, “Surprise!” or “Welcome to my Life!” or
This is my REAL answer to when you ask me, ‘how was your day?‘” ??

So I just cried.

Next thing I know, in come several of our biggest moving boxes from the garage.
Maddelyn immediately began her interrogation:
“Daddy, what’s that?”
“Daddy, what do you need those for?”
“Daddy, what are you doing?”
“Daddy, what’s happening right now?”

It didn’t take very long before I had a fellow cryer.

Into the boxes went toy after toy after toy after block after stuffed animal after this after that….

In they went.

Then out they went.
Several boxes full of toys. Out to the garage.

Immediately, I felt a huge sense of relief.
However, immediately following that, I felt a huge sense of dread.
A huge sense of “Oh crap, now what are they going to do?????”
A huge sense of “You’re not the one who has do the day with them… with NO TOYS….”
A huge sense of “Just what are we supposed to do now???”

I’ll be honest.
The kids and I sorta stood around for a few minutes and stared at each other.

We did some of that the next day, too.. the first full-day without toys.

Now, Jesse did leave some things for them.
Outside, he left them a tricycle, their little ATV, a bucket, and some sidewalk chalk.
Inside, he left them all of their books, one set of wooden blocks,
the walker, the little trampoline, and their little activity desk.
(Anything art-related like, paints and play-dough,
and bath/pool stuff
were not involved in this purge.)

I spend a lot of time with my kids.
I intentionally block out specific times throughout the day with them for music,
devotions, reading to them, and being on the floor with them.

However….

When there were hardly any toys involved, a number of things happened,

and I was actually extremely surprised about them…

1. We automatically spent way more time OUTSIDE.

We played outside before, don’t get me wrong. But not what I would call a ton, I’ll be honest.
With not much else to do inside, though, outside was the other option.
And what a great option it is– the best one!
So we were actually outside almost all day every day doing this and that,
even for lunch.

2. We spent more time TOGETHER. 

I had to reflect on the WHY behind this one,
especially because I felt like I spent a ton of time with my kids beforehand… but it’s true.
I spent more quality time with them afterwards.
And I also figured out why.
I’ve mentioned this in a prior post, but over-stimulation seriously overwhelms me,
and with numerous toys lighting up and sounding off at once,
I would mentally cage myself in trying to stay sane while still trying to stay truly connected with my kids.
Without all that extra stuff going on, I was able to be much more mentally present
and enjoyed time with them on a different, better level! And it seemed like Jesse was, too.
And we made even more of an effort to go and do things
together as a family outside the house.

3. THEY spent more time together. 

I noticed they spent more time playing together and doing things together as siblings when they had less toys.
Maybe it’s because of their age difference that the different toys they would play with would cause them
to sit apart frequently. Maybe it’s because in a simplified environment, they simply noticed each other more.
They played more chase (Andrew loves to crawl around and chase Maddelyn as she runs around giggling!),
they looked at their books together, and they laughed together more because
they started being each other’s entertainment.

4. BOOKS were being used independently much more frequently. 

He left them all their books. So that was the dominant form of stimulation inside.
I saw a MAJOR increase in BOTH of them looking at books.
I always have and still do read several books to them every day, and then Jesse or I read to them at bedtime, as well.
But without toys, they looked page-by-page at their books on their own.

5. They seemed CALMER and more CONTENT. 

Simply put, there was less forced stimulation.
They weren’t being bombarded anymore with lights, sounds, and stuff all over the floor.
I noticed a change in their demeanors for the better!
They were both more content with what they had, and they both were calmer in how they went through the day.
They even went down for naps easier!

6. CREATIVITY was upped!

Both theirs, AND mine!
I was able to be even more creative in how to spend our time, which was a good thing!
I made sure we went to outside activities, like StoryTime at the Library, which suddenly became even more of a priority.
And they were also more interested in the toys that were left behind, and used them in so many different ways
because it was all they had. The set of wooden blocks (all different shapes and sizes) that they had
zero interest in before, suddenly became their train tracks and little town and even their cars.
Andrew pushed little blocks around going “vrrrrooom vroooom” all on his own– and had a blast!

And lastly,

7. Constant clutter was ELIMINATED.

No longer did I spend my day chasing messes around room-to-room.
No longer was I spending a significant chunk of my day on the floor picking up toys for the thirtieth time.
No longer was I getting into a small power-struggle with Maddelyn over helping to clean her mess up,
but “NO” because “THAT’S ANDREW’S MESS.”
Nope. That all went away.
When there were only a couple things to tidy up, it was no longer daunting to either of us.
It was no longer a frustrating situation.
And it was so much easier to teach the lesson of tidying with less on the floor to deal with.

Bottom line,
life became simpler

in a GREAT way.

It’s been such a positive experience all-around that Jesse and I still have the toys boxed in the garage,
and are thinking of giving them some of the stored toys back for Christmas.
They will have just as much excitement getting toys back than they would getting some new thing to add to the pile.

But for now, life is refreshingly simpler and so much more enjoyable without all the extra clutter and extra noise.
And there’s absolutely nothing in the world like watching your kids make each other laugh all day.

If this speaks to you in any way, I encourage you to try it.
The worst thing that’s going to happen is you put the toys back!
Nothing to lose here. Except your sanity, maybe. 😉

It seems uncomfortable at first, because we, as Moms, depend a TON on toys without realizing it.

HOWEVER.
Guess what.
Your kids are still going to figure out a way to play without all their toys.
Because that’s what kids are wired to do.

And when they have to figure something out,
well, you can’t say that’s a bad thing, right?

From experience, I can confidently tell you
it’s a great thing.

🙂

2 Comments

  • Sara Lewis

    I’m so glad you discovered the freedom of less toys!

    We keep a limited amount out in the living room and a couple special toys are allowed in bedrooms. It really makes a huge difference of how my kids play and the cleanup process.

    August 9, 2017 at 4:49 am Reply
    • the Star Spangled Mama

      Me too! I like how you limit the toys in the bedroom… we used to use their bedroom for their play area, but I’ve definitely noticed how much better they fall asleep with hardly any toys to even so much as look at in there, and the play area being more dominantly the living room/outside!

      August 16, 2017 at 1:50 pm Reply

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