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Winds of Change

July 9, 2010

So yesterday the knot at the end of my rope of patience frayed, unraveled, and sent me careening into Crazy Mommy Chasm.  Not a place I recommend.

Luckily, no emotional casualties or permanent psychological damage.  Instead I landed in a huge pile of  It.  As in, “That’s IT, Things Are Gonna Change!”

The cause of all this trouble?   LEGOS, Lincoln Logs, Little People, Thomas Trains and Tracks, books, blocks.. a lot of alliteration going on here, but it was NOT poetic.  Sets and sets of toys, spread out in every room.  All dumped in about 5 seconds each, and played with for about as long.  But the cleanup…WOW!  You’d think I had asked them to … I don’t know… clean up their TOYS!  Inconceivable.  Unbelievable.  Impossible and Ridiculous.  Couldn’t be done, at least not without tears and fits and red faces.

And the two kickers?
1) The whole day they were playing with all these toys (ALL these choices) there was bickering, complaining, fighting over who played with what LEGO and who took  pieces of who’s project.
2) This scenario has repeated itself about every day for the last 3 years.  You will note that Eric is 3 1/2 years old.

Stop rolling your eyes.  I did finally do something about it.  That’s the “That’s IT, Things Are Gonna Change!” part.  I asked each little mess-maker to choose ONE set of toys.  They did.  And while they watched Peep and the Big, Wide World on PBS, I quietly packed away every other toy.  Every last LEGO, every last block, every last puzzle.  Poor boys, they went to bed with no clue.

This morning they got their clue.   Almost in unison they asked, “Mommy, where are all my toys?”

While I sipped a cup of strong coffee I explained the rules of the new regime.  One toyset each.  They could choose to share with their brother or not, but regardless the set chooser would be responsible for picking up his set.  No other toy would come out until the first was put away.  Completely, with no pieces hiding in plain sight in the middle of the living room floor.

The result?  Two focused boys playing peacefully with the toy set in front of them.  Playing together.  Calmly.   Sharing.  Apparently when options are scarce they pool their resources.  Who knew the key to peace was the same one I use to lock the toy closet?  Don’t tell me you’ve always known this – I don’t want to know.

I just want to enjoy my peaceful house!  Ahhhh…

There once were two little boys
Who cried when they tidied their toys.
Till one day they found
There were no toys around,
Now they clean up their toys and rejoice.  Kind of.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Colleen permalink
    July 22, 2010 12:44 am

    Dee Dee,
    I just got around to reading your latest blogs…I think I was busy having the girls clean up oodle and oodles of Barbies, Barbie clothes, Barbie shoes and lets not even go into the issues I have with the microscopic items belonging to Polly Pocket – somehow, those never get left around because Bob always seems to step on them!!! hee!hee!
    I LOVE YOUR NEW REGIME!!! Do you have any advice for me, someone who lives to have peace and ‘simplicity’ in my home, who has some trouble getting rid of things ‘just in case Sadie wants to play with them when she gets older’? Any other tips now thaat your new regime has been in place for almost two weeks??

  2. July 11, 2010 2:47 am

    oh dee, dee, i’m so glad you are blogging again. first, kudos for using those well-honed word-smithing skills. so this is really nerdy, but i really love your…um…sentence structure. what you did was absolute genius, and i love the image of you calmly sipping coffee and explaining, “now heahs how it is”… i like the idea of less being more. i once heard that nothing engenders thankfulness like a little bit of deprivation. sometimes it’s like the more we lavish on kids, the more they want, and then voila, we have created and entitlement mentality incubator. we the parents in an effort to give good gifts actually rob our kids of the feeling of satisfaction of earning something and viewing it as a privilege, not as a basic human right. and i love that you didn’t make them share, that you gave them the choice. i read that somewhere, and it made sense to me at the time, the author stated that it’s more like the real world. for instance, my neighbor can’t just walk into my garage and borrow my lawn mower without my permission. that’s called, stealing 😉 so with our kids we have a few communal things, like books, but toys that are given to a child belong to that child. if they choose to share, we praise the virtue, and if they choose not to, we don’t make a big deal out of it. even rudy gets the idea (somewhat). of course this works better at home and we have to employ turn taking etc. strategies at church or on the playground, but overall, i think they are getting the idea of respecting personal property.

    i also started a blog…so now that you have such a peaceful home you can while away the hours and surf cyberspace and land on it.

    way to go friend!

  3. KAREN permalink
    July 9, 2010 5:57 pm

    Where were you when I needed you?????

    • July 9, 2010 6:14 pm

      I think I was busy telling my boys to clean up again! Glad you were in the same boat – nice to know I’m not the only one in that sinking ship!


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