If you have a house with a playroom or designated play area for your little ones, then you will understand why I was absolutely putting this one off as long as I could. It took the kids staying at Grandma’s & Pap’s, a motivated husband, and a little bit of wine to attempt to summit my own personal Everest.
Behold…. the Before:
I mean, who lives here?!?! Tarzan and Mowgli? Clearly not civilized children.
We went in without holding back. It was a highly tactical mission. I had a few boxes and a few large utility trash bags, and we just started throwing stuff out. It was easy at first: little broken pieces or random cards from God-only-knows-which-game went right out the door. Once we got the first layer down, we started working on the various “zones” of the playroom:
- The Barbie Boneyard
- Youth Hostel for Babies
- Train Set Junction
- The Creation Station
- The Parking Garage
The Barbie Boneyard and the Youth Hostel for Babies were pretty simple. We just got rid of broken and headless dolls and organized the good stuff into its own tote. I do wish to say there is a special place in Hell for whoever thought that silverware for Barbie dolls was a necessary item. Barbie doesn’t even have separate fingers. Nice going, Mattel®.
My husband tackled Train Set Junction. No one really needs 5-6 train sets, right? We managed to narrow it down to two sets only. Hollywood = costumes, accessories and anything a kid needs to have a blast getting all dolled (or ninja’d) up to play and perform. We just removed anything torn or too small, and threw out some broken stuff. Some things that we had outgrown went to littler cousins.
The Creation Station was majorly pared down. This is where we keep all the “arts and crafts” crap that the kids use to glue things to our wall that they shouldn’t; it’s why we can’t have nice things. All things glitter-related were banished and are never to be seen again. That stuff is insidious. #dieglitterdie
The Parking Garage is where a large portion of my son’s little cars (aka Feet Killers) went, as well as any large vehicle that a child can push around, such as a fire truck or Belle’s tea cart, complete with Mrs. Potts, Chip, and “Be Our Guest” on loop. What the heck was Santa thinking on that one?!?!
We were able to empty out and remove one whole bookcase/toybox combo that was falling apart, most likely due to having to contain about a metric ton of toys and other plastic crap. As we moved it up the stairs together and tried to pivot it around the door frame, you guessed it! PIVOT!!!!
One of the more enjoyable aspects of this adventure is that I’ve seized the opportunity to use one of my favorite “Friends” references, PIVOT! It never gets old (to me, anyways. The Huz might have a differing opinion on that).
I’m also intrigued by why little girls are so “into” super-duper-tiny-little-miniature things. We have Hatchimals and LOL dolls and their various accouterments, but why on God’s green Earth does something such as this even have to exist…
It’s a miniature perfume bottle, in case you’re wondering.
I definitely broke a sweat on this one, and I was worried for the next day when we revealed to the children their newly organized play area. I felt CERTAIN that they would take immediate visual inventory and know what was missing and completely fall apart and we would have to make an urgent appointment with an interventionist. Not the case.
In fact, they were astounded by how clean and pretty it looked, and played with things they really had not played with much recently. Could this be because they were now able to see the forest for the trees? Without all the clutter and junk in the way, were they able to find joy in things from the past?
See? Still gadgets and gizmos a-plenty. Who-zits and whats-its galore. (Sorry if you have that song in your head now.)
As we organized, we were able to fill three utility sized trash bags to toss. We gathered three large boxes worth of items for donation or to give away. We gave everything a designated space throughout the process, and set the clear expectation with the kids that once you were done playing with a toy, you put it back before you moved on to something else. Realistic? Probably not, but it made me feel like a good parent for a fleeting moment.
They played for HOURS in the playroom that day; longer than I can remember in recent past. And not once did they ask for anything that they felt was missing.
This process in the playroom is perpetual. As they continue to age and grow out of things, and gather new things throughout the year, we will have to keep on top of it. But knowing that we took a pretty huge chunk out of it was extremely cathartic. I slept like a baby that night.
So, here are some tips for tackling that playroom:
- Go in with bags and boxes, and maybe a face mask. Gloves. Oxygen tank. (Your call.)
- Take some wine, too, while you’re at it.
- Wear shoes. Legos suck.
- Don’t let the kids help. They aren’t helpful.
- Get rid of the first layer: “trash” and broken/misfit toys. They have their own island, after all.
- Tackle it by “zones” so that you have distinct areas for certain kinds of toys. This will make it easier for the kiddos to clean up after themselves.
- Remember there are a lot of things you can do with items for donation.
- As long as you don’t burn their toys in effigy in front of them, you won’t damage your kids emotionally.