It snowed last night. After Atticus finished romping in the scant two inches we received, he came inside, and I decided it was time to sort through our toy boxes.
In each of the two bedrooms belonging to our children, there is a toy box. They are both filled to the brim with toys. Every so often, I like to dig through them, throwing away Barbie legs and Q-tips, trying to find all the pieces to stuff back into Mrs. Potato Head, and generally sorting and organizing.
Usually, after about a half hour of this, I realize we have eight rubber duckies, two bajillion Barbie shoes, and my kids don't even play with half the crap in there. I get frustrated and start making illogical proclamations at the top of my lungs like, "I will NEVER allow another new toy in this house!" and "THAT'S IT! Say good-bye to your toys, children, they're all going to Goodwill tomorrow!"
Then my kids start crying and I feel bad for ten whole seconds, but remember that honestly, I make them cry almost every day by making them do outrageous things like bathe and wash their hands and help unload the dishwasher.
So what do we do? I can count on one hand the number of toys we ourselves have bought for our children. They don't even seem to be aware there's a toy aisle at Wal-mart. Do we ask those pesky, loving relatives of ours to stop being so generous toward our offspring? Haul away all their toys and make them hate us forever?
Well, in the past year, I have instituted a new system. It's appears to be a popular one, especially amongst my fellow parents who don't have unlimited space in their house for toys or have entire wings of their homes devoted to playrooms. About every six months or so, I pack up half the kids' toys, put them in a giant plastic container, and shove it in the closet. When six months have gone by, I haul out the bin, switch the toys in the toy boxes for those in the container, and put it away again.
Our kids love toy-switching day. It's like Christmas for them; there's lots of gasping and pleased exclamations over toys they had completely forgotten we own. This seems to make up for me taking away the other half; they're so excited to get the hidden half out that they don't mind when I snatch beloved playthings out of their hot little hands.
This seems to be a solution that works for our family, and I've been enormously pleased with it.
But I still refuse to lift the stuffed animal ban.