Sunday, November 11, 2007

My War on Toys

Not, in fact, a post about lead or otherwise tainted toys.

Sam and Jack share a room and, after we put them to bed, they stay up playing for a little while. They have an early bedtime, so we're okay with some play in their room at night. The biggest problem with this is their near-constant interruptions to our evening alone time. They find any excuse in existence to use their little ninja skills to sneak into our TV room/office.

Just tonight, after being sternly told to remain in his room, Jack sidled past the living room, through the kitchen, and down the hall to the desk where I was sitting. Staying as far away as he could, and without saying a word, he ssssttttrectched his little arm out to deposit the following onto the desk:

He then skip-hopped furtively out of the room as fast as he could go. At least as fast as you can go if you're skip-hopping.

Thank God he delivered this vitally crucial missive to me. I'm not sure what would have happened had I not gotten it until tomorrow, or—gasp!—never.

But anyway, that is not my point. My point is that the second biggest problem with Sam and Jack sharing a room is that they take the time to throw every toy they can find onto the floor, so no matter how clean I've left it the night before, it is a disaster every morning.

On a not obviously related note, I get bored with furniture configurations easily and like to rerarrange things on a regular basis. In the past year I have changed Sam and Jack's room so much that you might think I would have hit upon a toy/furniture pattern that was conducive to staying clean for more than four hours at a stretch. But you'd be wrong.

Here is what I have learned:

Buying toys for your kids, especially games, because it makes you happy results in lots of little pieces that can end up on the floor of a bedroom. Legos are also a bad idea. I used to buy toys for my guys because it's really fun to buy them. This sort of thinking has led to a situation where we have far too many toys. And far too many toys on a shelf will eventually lead to far too many toys on the floor.

If you've spent six years buying toys because you're bored or greedy, even a serious purge still leaves a plethora of toys with which to make a mess. Trust me. I'm, like, three or four purges in and it still looks like a preschool at my house.

An attempt to reclaim your living room by moving all the games and puzzles out of that room and into your kids' room makes it that much easier and gives them a far more private area in which to dump all the game and puzzle pieces on the floor. I love having all our kid stuff in the kids' rooms and our basement playroom, but when boredom strikes at night, the bedroom can become rather messy.

When you wise up and decide to move these items out of their room and into the basement, don't replace them with paper, coloring books, and markers. When Jack wrote on the couch with markers, we were understandably upset. When we discovered that if you use upholstery cleaner on the cushion covers, they get really, really clean, it turned out that he'd done us a bit of a favor. That notwithstanding, there were several days that Jack woke up covered in marker. He's not entirely to blame, as one of those mornings, the marker was scribbled on his back. And no matter how agile he is, he can't properly cover his entire back with red sharpie without the help of a big brother. At times it looked like he had a big ol' case of the measles. It attracted a bit of attention when it happened the night before swim class.

When you get tired of them writing on things with marker and take said markers away and leave them with just pencils and pencil sharpeners, you will find millions of tiny pencil shavings on the carpet. I've grown to hate those little shavings. And whereas toys on the floor only defeat prior tidying up, pencil shavings defeat prior vacuuming, resulting in a need to re-vacuum the next day.

These are the conclusions I've come to:

It might be a good idea to remove everything from their room except for books. I know if I do this I'm just asking for ripped up books, but I have my fingers crossed that they might have some respect for the written word and refrain from that. If the little shits push me too far, that's where we're going to go. Forced to read! Ha! Take that, hoodlums! (Quinn can keep his toys because he's still trapped in his crib.)

Or, in a worst case scenario, I can just oust them from their room and make it into a fitness center. It's not like they sleep in it anyway:


  1. But look at that new floor SHINE! :-)

    I'm impressed that you get adult time in the evenings with 3 boys to put to bed. I rarely do, with only 1 and a baby....

  2. Loving that photo!

    I gave up on the toy thing years ago. Now I just rotate huge tubs from bedroom, playroom and garage.

    As for the marker thing, it reminds me of the other morning. REALLY early (like 3 or something) Boo woke up and was doing the usual bounce around his room. Managed to get him to lay in bed but thought I should change his nappy first (yes he is still in night nappies. Probably always will be) anyway, the back of the nappy was covered in this purpley blue red colour. I had got to bed at midnight, so wasn't thinking too clearly and was convinced he was hemorrhaging or something!
    Turns out it was coloured chalk he took to bed.
    Lesson learnt. No markers, chalk or crayons in his room!

    You would cringe to hear what he does have in his room though!

  3. I am glad my son can't open his door yet. Toys toys everywhere.

  4. WM: I'll be sure to pass on your compliment to Alex! And our adult time mostly consists of me working and Alex watching TV, but I'm happy to take it!

    Kelley: You Aussies and your fun words: "nappies". Yeah, chalk is bad too. I'm just happy that all my kids are finally out of the eating chalk phase. Gross.

    Angela: The one thing I never actively try to teach my children is to open doors. I'd be happy if I had to open doors for them until they were 10.

  5. You take the best, most telling pictures of your little guys. That photo is unbelievably adorable, so perfect when they are sleeping.

  6. Actually, yes, I have to admit now that I read whymommy's comment, I definitely noticed the lack of dust-bunnies on your nice wood floor and was impressed. I have three cats.

  7. I've decided if we ever move, we will by a gymnasium, and then make it cozy and echo-proof. We will put a kitchen in one corner, a bathroom in the other with laundry facilities, and then 3 mattresses in the third corner. The rest will be playroom/living room/TV room/office/gameroom/meltdown room/sensory room/study. I'm not sure where we should put the "laundry couch" ??? The room should also have a drain in the middle of the floor where I can wash away the days doings in one swift squirt of the hose.

    Yes, I think this would be good.

  8. Opening doors for them until they're ten. Too fun. I think milk just shot out of my nose!

    I suppose it's a bad sign that LB just pushed open the door to his brother's room, huh?

  9. TIV: Thanks for you photo compliment. When they give me such ample material, it's hard not to take nice photos. And I do have cats and a dog and a plethora of hairballs. They were just recently removed because we had friends over. If I took a picture today it would look different.

    Ange: I adore your idea. Add a couple mattresses for me and my guys. We'll be moving in too. I voluteer to hose the place down MWF.

    WM: I mean, really, isn't this a skill you'd rather they not learn? The only thing worse would be maybe climbing stairs at nine months. Oh, oops, you've got one of those!

  10. Board books and fabric books. They're the latest craze. ;)

  11. Joeymom, you are wise beyond your years. Board books! Fabric books! Whoever would have thought of that? (You, I suppose.) Let's see those little bastards rip those.

  12. sounds like my house. well except i have 2 girls in a room. I have found out the hard way that Barbie shoes hurt more then legos when you step on them.



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