It was a rare moment when I was home alone. My husband was at work and my children were at preschool. I knew this was my chance. I had been fantasizing for days — no weeks — what I would do if this opportunity actually arose. I grabbed a laundry basket and went to work. No interruptions. No distractions. I ran room to room dumping out toy bins and baskets. It was a take-no-prisoners kind of frenzy. If it was unloved, never played with, broken or missing pieces, it had to go. With each toy that landed in my laundry basket I felt a kind of sick glee. THIS FELT SO GOOD! My great toy round-up was underway and I would be victorious! Yippee-yi-aye!
I didn’t always feel this way about toys.
When my daughter was born I carefully selected educational and developmental toys. I scoured Pinterest for the best ways to organize them. If a toy needed batteries or repairs, I promptly took care of it. As birthdays and Christmases passed, the mountain of toys grew. My husband’s man room soon became the “mirl” room. Part man, part girl. Soon a little brother was on the way and all the baby toys came out of storage. Once my son arrived, the man room’s transformation was complete. From man room to “mirl” room to full-fledged kid playroom.
Let me be clear; I am not a hoarder.
I Marie Kondo-ed with the best of them. We shipped all our baby stuff to my sister, her husband and their new arrival in California. We made a conscious effort to buy LESS at Christmas (which didn’t exactly work out). Overrun by what seemed like a toy stampede, we felt as if the walls were closing in on us. My pile of broken ones in the laundry room kept growing, and only the most precious items were actually fixed. Something had to give.
I considered allowing our children to be active participants in what toys we could pass along to other families. My husband and I try to model charity and helping others. There is value in teaching that lesson. I recognize that. But I REEEAAALLYY wanted all those extra toys gone — like yesterday. I could imagine the pleading, bargaining, crying (theirs and mine), and that’s when I decided to go rogue and take matters into my own hands.
I started my mission at the beginning of the summer. I started paying more attention to which toys were actually being used. I used nap times to take an informal inventory of what we actually had. I went through that pile of broken toys in the laundry room to see what I could fix (and did fix them). I farmed a couple of sewing projects out to Grandma, too. (Thanks Mom!) Then I laid in wait. When the perfect day finally came, I was armed with my mental list of what had to go. My laundry basket filled up fast. IT FELT SO GOOD! I even had time to sort them before preschool pickup time. Throw away, donate, sell. Boom! I was done, and it felt AMAZING!
It’s been several weeks since I launched my stealth toy operation. So far, no one has even noticed my effort, not even my observant husband. Perhaps next time I will let my children participate. Maybe. Or maybe not. I have vowed once again to be more conscientious about the toys that enter our home and I will continue to celebrate my summer victory over toys!