Monday, April 23, 2012

Four-Letter Word.

Somewhere between the rain, spring, mud, dirt, soaking white-turned-black socks, dirty knees on sweatpants, sand and filth ALL over the house, sweeping and sweeping and sweeping, I decided enough was enough.

LEGO in our house is quickly becoming a four-letter word.

We have thousands of Legos, and the kids have a great deal of fun playing with them. However, they've also spent a fair amount of time outdoors lately, running in and out, grabbing a sweatshirt, running in with their rain boots on to use the bathroom, dragging inside toys out, and outside toys in. The house is dirty, I carry a broom from room to room, and it's driving me crazy.

What's this have to do with Legos, you ask? Well, I have, until now, had a fair amount of patience with our Lego situation. When I found a small, yellow Lego amid the unmentionables of a dirty diaper, I didn't take them away; only gave a stern warning that Legos were to be out of reach from the baby. I get used to finding Legos in my bed, under the rugs, or sorted in our kids' bowls and plastic plates.

But this weekend, I packed them away. It was a breakdown of sorts that I'd like to call TMC, which stands for TOO MUCH CLEANING. There is too much sand and dirt, hand towels full of boy grease and boots and shoes that have seen better days. Right now I have little to no patience for those tiny little Legos under my feet that I don't exaggerate have infiltrated every single room in the house, without exception.

I packed a large box away on Friday, told the kids calmly what I was doing, and why, and spent the remainder of the weekend picking up residuals. They were okay with it, and even though it rained all day Saturday, they understood that for an undetermined amount of time, that the privilege of turning our home into Ninjgo was being revoked.

With the mom guilt being stacked quite high for packing MORE of the boys' toys away, my rationale is that fewer toys for the kids is worth it if mom can keep more cool and collected and spends less time ranting about the condition of the jungle gym we call our home.

How do you keep up with the toys AND the outdoors-come-indoors mess?


Sarah said...

Well, I could speak volumes on this topic. Some would say I'm too uptight, but we have strict policies about toys. Outside toys are not allowed in once they have been soiled. Permission must be granted for an inside toy to be granted outside toy status and it is made clear that once it goes out it can't be brought in again. . . I learned my lesson early on that it makes me crazy to constantly have to monitor dirty toys coming in. After playing outside there is a specific spit for outside toys to be stored. I even showed the boys exactly how I wanted things stored when they are put away so there was no question about my expectations when I say "put everything away." For Legos . . . mostly the boys can only play with them when baby is sleeping and the parts have to stay on a big blanket so they are contained and easily cleaned. Lately I have found stragglers and I've given the warning that they'll be revoked if it keeps happening. We also have "lego land" in the basement. I've been meaning to blog about it, but it's foam mats and then Legos played on top. The baby doesn't go down there, so it's a "safe zone". I also sometimes let the boys put a gate up in a particular room so they can play Legos without baby girl wanting to eat them. But when they're done playing the Legos have to be picked up - or built pieces put on a high spot.

I suppose this all sounds a little militant, but it's for my sanity . . . and theirs! : )

Sarah said...

AND twice a day we do a general pick up so things don't get too crazy. If they want to drag out more toys and have left other toys, the other toys have to be picked up before new toys come out. I don't do well with tons of clutter so this is my way of managing it. My Mom used to call these "5 minute pick ups"! More later . . .

Sarah said...

don't feel bad about packing toys away - my motto: simple is better. It allows for creativity! : ) You're doing a great job!

Theresa said...

We have enforced strict rules in regards gift giving....especially for the grandparents. VERY STRICT. I've openly stated that if they continue to get so many toys for Christmas and birthdays, they WILL BE regifted....and admittedly I have done this and told them who so enjoyed the toys. Doesn't go over well, but it is very effective.

With every new toy received as a gift, they need to pick out an old one to put in the "sale" box or to give away.

As my kids get older and more numerous, they tend to be less interested in toys in general. We just recently packed up the livingroom toys and pushed them into a storage shed because they'd get dumped, kicked around, and left alone. So far the kids don't seem to miss them all that much.

I'm with Sarah on the inside/outside toys. We are very strict in those regards as well. Legos are meant for the table. If they are found on the floor a warning is given and then they end up in the trash. End of Story.

Mallory said...

I see that I have let my boundaries slip a little!! This is why I love you ladies--you get me back on track!

We don't have too many toys, relatively speaking. But the toys we have have many pieces--little cars, small dino figure, blocks, blocks, blocks, etc., and they just end up everywhere. I like things clean and organized, and I get pretty snippy when there are dinos, cars, and blocks all over the floor (now mixed with sand, dirt, and mud).

I guess I just hate saying "no" all the time to everything. I feel like such a fun-sucker-outer. But again, if I say yes and then get crabby and stressed about the house, then my "yes" didn't do me or the kids much good, did it.

A big thing here to is enforcing the rules. My five is okay, but everything with the 3 turns into a tantrum, and I'm always thinking "is bringing the outside tractor in the house really worth the tantrum that will follow?" You know, so I've got that to contend with, too.

I guess I just need to pick the boundaries and stick with them until they are habit. Keep up the good comments, I'm learning lots here!

Anonymous said...

Mal. That is the main reason I divided our toys into 4 boxes. Then every month they would pack up a box and get out a new one. That way there were never too many toys and every month the kids played with new toys. The excitement was kind of like Christmas and it was never overwhelming for them to keep their toys neat and organized. It was easier to teach them about responsibility b/c they had very few toys/things to think about. I also used Sarah's rules that outside toys stay outside. They had their outside bin and had to put toys away in that also. After a while it was habit for them and less stress for me. You know how I love organization and this "box a month" method really worked for me.
Mimi S