If you caught me in the act of organizing toys, you might think it was a remake of the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I start out all sentimental and attached. Then I turn into a mad(wo)man, scooping up toys by the armful and filling garbage bags on the sly.
It last happened on New Year’s Eve after S. and I came back from seeing Tangled, while my husband and son were out getting a few last ingredients for a dish we were bringing to a dinner party that night.
I didn’t plan to do it, but I found myself in front of the open doors of a wide, shallow closet in our family room. It was stuffed floor to ceiling with board games, puzzles, scrap paper for drawing, photo albums, DVDs, boxes of crayons and markers, and every coloring book my children scribbled in at some point during the last eight years. The whole thing looked like a game of Jenga. One wrong move and we would automatically qualify for the show Hoarders.
And then I felt myself morphing — into an evil thrower-outer of toys.
Maybe it’s because my husband can’t bear to share this task with me as Amanda’s husband does, and so I have to assume both roles myself (rather infrequently as a result).
I know if M. was around, it would all end up in the “keep” pile. Same goes for my son, who has already made me promise that his three bins of plastic dinosaurs and another full of Power Rangers will remain in the attic until he claims them for his children.
So with my two pack-rats gone for an hour, I went to work. Anything missing a piece (or part of a piece courtesy of our dog) went straight into the garbage (bye-bye puzzles). Also tossed were about three-quarters of the coloring books, which either had been colored to the max or would be of no interest to my current coloring fanatic (who is more My Little Pony than Power Ranger Dino Thunder).
Having donated used toys to a local preschool in the past, I knew that an intact Bob the Builder Memory Game and dinosaur puzzle would be welcome there, so I felt good about finding a new home for those items ala Toy Story 3.
The rest of the stuff had overstayed its welcome. Think phone books from six years ago, a big desk calculator that pre-dates the computer, cards with no envelopes, envelopes with no cards.
In my madness, I managed to create a much more accessible stack of board games, which might actually encourage the kids to use the surviving toys more often. While I was purging, S. was busy becoming acquainted with Hungry Hungry Hippos for the first time — which had been buried on purpose a few years back when I was trying to resolve letting a one-year-old play in the same room with her six-year-old marble collecting brother.
All told, everyone was impressed when I was done. M. and L. returned, and luckily noticed the closet transformation before the pile of garbage bags in the garage. S. was just happy to be allowed to open the closet on her own.
I should probably think about keeping up with the task of organizing toys on a regular basis — but that would mean I would have to make the painful personal transformation more often. Every few years still sounds good enough to me (or until the closet doors fall off).
How about you — how often do you organize toys? Is your approach no holds barred or slightly more thoughtful?
Correction: The author’s husband was incorrectly described in this blog as a pack-rat. That description applies only to his tendencies to save his children’s belongings (baby clothes and toys specifically). It does not reflect his actions with regard to the contents of the kitchen cabinets or his wife’s shoe and handbag collection.