Sheesh. Toys are coming out of my ears at the moment. I remember feeling this kind of tightening, icky type of stress when I was pregnant. An I-Must-Get-Rid-Of-Everything-Around-Me-Until-This-House-Is-Virtually-Empty type anxiety that seemed to blow up and magnify every corner of our house that was filled with things. A few years ago I used to look around my house and see my own junk. Nowadays I am looking around and seeing toys.
This amazes me as we have been quite particular about the things we do and don’t give to N to play with. Musical CD players and things with buttons that scream at us are whisked away almost as soon as the present giver is out of sight. (Sorry). I have felt terrible about taking certain toys away, and very awkward when things are given as gifts that are larger than life and loud and gawdy and just aren’t our thing. I have often felt like a big mama-prude when for reasons unknown to me, these things just didn’t sit right, didn’t feel good.
I have become more comfortable over the last year about making choices about play things that I now know are good for my girl, despite what other’s might say or think (mainly those of the older generation and/or friends and family who don’t have children.) I used to think I just needed to loosen up, but then I made some careful observations of N in different environments. When she is surrounded by a lot of things/toys/stuff, and you actually take the time to sit down and quietly watch, it’s amazing what you see. She is like the tassie devil, going from one thing to the next, not really engaging in anything in particular. I have often seen her flinging things over her shoulders, discarding things where she stands as her eyes are already launching onto the next object.
Maybe this wouldn’t bother me so much, and I’d just put it down to ‘toddler behaviour’ if it weren’t for the fact that I have also quietly observed her with just a few simple toys around her – either at home, or at Montessori where there are plenty of other children around to distract her. I have seen her selecting one thing, sitting down and quietly engaging with it for a good amount of time. Yesterday she was playing with some small bits and pieces I had put in a wooden bowl – a gumnut, a stick, some finger puppets and some little wooden dolls. She pulled out the stick and was looking at it for a little while before saying, “Look Mummy, it’s an em-oo!” And yes, indeedy, that stick certainly did resemble an emu. She then spent time bopping it along the table and getting it to say hello to this and that. I think the emu even got to share her lunch and have a little drink of water.
I have been reading Simplicity Parenting recently, a book I bought ages ago but have never had the time to sit down and read properly. The bits I have read, I love. In it, Kim John Payne talks about “the power of less” and states, “A smaller, more manageable quantity of toys invites deeper play and engagement. An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm.” And, I might add, a gigantic mess for mummy to trip over, clean up, step on, argue with toddler about.
The storage of toys is also a constant dilemma in our relatively small house. It’s becoming even more of an issue now that we have two kids, and we are being given toys for the baby too. I was looking at all our toys today, and realised they are now found in almost all rooms of our house in some shape or form – bath toys, special toys in the cupboard, a box of toys in the back lounge, outdoor toys on the deck… it’s amazing how fast we have accumulated so much. I think this weekend could be a good time to start going through them and simplifying what we have.
That and all the sewing projects I want to get done, cooking for the week, gardening, book reading, coffee drinking, washing, park playing, dog walking…
Uh… maybe I should rethink the to-do list…