Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Ten Toys Per Child

Remember last week when I posted about Bubba cutting his own hair while all the children were "quietly coloring" at the kitchen table? Turns out there's more to this story, folks.

Over the weekend a friend sent me this note:

"Maybe he really needed 15 toys! Creativity is an amazing adventure! So cute and so damn funny! At least your sweet little girl did not cut her hair!"

I guess I have more to tell you. Let me back up a little.

The day I wrote that post I spent the morning at coffee with some girlfriends.

I was retelling the story about the five minutes alone, the oh-no they've been way too quiet for far too long realization, and the fact that the older kids didn't stop Bubba from whacking at his luxurious locks.

Over cappuccinos and lattes and cute chubby babies I was also explaining the new M.O. (modus operandi) set forth by my dear husband regarding toys in our home.

Two weeks ago we adopted the Ten Toys Per Child policy.

Let me back up a little further. You see, recently he went on a trip where he stayed in the home of some dear friends. This family of four lives in a very small home. Our home is small. Theirs is smaller. They described a simple rule they keep with their kids that has lead to greater happiness, stronger focus and fuller creativity.

The Rule: Ten Toys Per Child

My hubby came home raving about how great it was being in a home without—please excuse my French—all this sh*t laying around all. He has been an advocate for extracting the massive quantities of—please excuse my French—sh*t that so easily accumulates when you have three little people and two big people living in a home together.

The pack-rat in me said, "Oh no, but we might need it. We can't live without 23 plastic horses, a giant robot, 600 million flash cards and 42 miniature dinosaurs."

The housewife in me said, "Anything to make my job easier and I'll take it."

I hesitantly agreed with the new plan. We presented it to the kids. They jumped on board immediately running to their rooms to fill garage sale bags with their things. Clearly the thousands of precious little plastic thingies laying around here didn't really mean all that much to them after all.

We had a garage sale. They sold everything and kept the money for themselves. (Enter Pokemon cards. But that's a different story for a different day.)

Now that we function in a Ten Toys Per Child house I have to agree that the reduction of clutter has led to greater happiness, stronger focus and fuller creativity for all.

Enter last week's Five Minutes Alone episode: Quietly Coloring at the Dining Room Table.

After the children woke up in the morning, I began quizzing them about the previous night's events trying desperately to understand why no one stopped the baby from cutting his own hair. Quite quickly it was revealed that Bubba wasn't the only one taking liberty with the scissors. Turns out he got the idea from his older sister who got the idea from her older brother. Yes indeed, all three children cut their hair that evening.

Which brings me back to the note my friend sent over the weekend:

"Maybe he really needed 15 toys! Creativity is an amazing adventure! So cute and so damn funny! At least your sweet little girl did not cut her hair!"

Ahhhhh, the simple joy of youthful creativity!


  1. ah, yes a fine line. My recent 5 minutes alone will soon be posted if I can remember how to post it was it flikr?
    It involves Tilda and 5 compost bags of mushrooms. This child will not stop putting things in her mouth.
    Having gotten rid of most of their toys I still go back and forth. I think I didn't really know which ones they really liked and turns out I couldn't let go of some of them because I have some nostalgia around it, like doll house....but lo and behold Tilda is showing interest, and every other child that comes. Is it okay to keep toys only for when other kids come?
    I kept the lego for Zuni, but Tilda plays with the old kid lego all the time...My new rule is purely no plastics. with exception for strollers.
    What I have found though is that I had to scramble to find entertainment for them when they have nothing to play with, but when they have too much they can't find the toys, so I think when we have a house again I'm going for Montessori style few all in plain sight toys. And always have dress up and babies for all.
    But I do get mixed feelings about toys, it's almost so that we don't have to engage but how am I supposed to live in this day and age if I don't have any time to myself to create and get work done?
    The woods have been great but man it's easier when the friends live on your street.

  2. Super great post! Lots to think about here on my end and discuss with DH who conveiniently doesn't even notice all the sh** laying around, or leaste it doesn't bother him like it does me. With the holidays coming up I may implement this rule in some way, I'll call it "nesting". :). On another note what to do with all those precious drawings and art projects that seem to clutter everything from every square inch of the fridge to my computer desk? Keep it real, love to read your posts.

  3. Ah I LOVE the idea of 10 toys per child. I was a kid that had 23 plastic horses, a giant robot, 600 million flash cards and 42 miniature dinosaurs, but my favorite thing to play with was a cardboard box. Seriously, I made a fort and lived out of the thing for the better part of a year.
    Let the creativity flow! (maybe just be careful with the scissors hah)

  4. Kjersti - I can't wait to see Tilda's Five Minutes Alone. Get those pics up on Flickr girl.

    Molly - Agreed. What to do with all those art projects? Love 'em to pieces but soon I'm going to be swimming in all this creativity, literally.

    Mads - Now that the majority of the toys are gone, the fort is the daily standby... cardboard boxes, sheets, blankets, tables and chairs. Easy to cleanup and endless creativity :)


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