Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Idea of the Year

Our playroom is out of control. Baskets upon baskets of toys, most of which are no longer played with, fill so much of the space that there isn't enough room for the kids to enjoy the things they actually do use.

I know I have to go through and get rid of stuff, but I dread this task for many reasons. Most of all, I cringe from the inevitable chorus of "What happened to _______ ?" that is sure to start just as soon as the items have left the premises. Items I could have sworn the kids had forgotten about are suddenly their most favorite, treasured toys and I am the Wicked Witch of the West for sending them away.

As I was pondering this today, I had a rare and sudden flash of brilliance. Why not let the kids administer their own playroom thinning? Sounded good to me, so I decided to give it a try.

After dinner I had each child go upstairs and select three items from the playroom that they could part with. Next (and this is the good part) I had them get buy-in from their siblings on the items they had chosen. For example, if Lindsey couldn't bear to part with something Sam had chosen she had the right to veto it, but then she had to go choose something to replace it. They could veto things as many times as they wanted , but they were not free to go until they had collectively delivered me the whole lot of a dozen things.

Nothing like peer pressure to get a job done fast. In less than 5 minutes they had cheerfully delivered me a nice pile and got on with their evening. No tears, no surprises and I am on my way to a cleaner playroom. Now if I can just keep this up about 3 times a week, in a few months the playroom will be painlessly trimmed down.

Yes siree, I am feeling mighty proud of myself tonight. But we all know that pride cometh before a fall, so check in with me in a week or so to see how the mighty have fallen. Or simply failed to continue to enforce this really good idea, as the case may be.

Not that this has happened to me before or anything.


Michelle said...

I haven't yet tried to get the kids to help thin toys because I dread any possible conflict. I'm happy to see your technique worked!

Moving helps! The kids ask, "Where is...?" and I play dumb. Hmmm...must not be unpacked yet...don't know where we put it...

Also, I tend to confiscate things and hide them for a few months. If they don't miss it, then it goes.

Tina said...

I've tried, somewhat successfully so far, using the 27 fling boogie. I do modify the number to around 15 or so and they have cheerfully complied each time.

The other way that I have pared down their "stuff" is that while they are gone, say for week in Lancaster, some of their things grow legs and walk out of the house. Then, if asked where something is, I also play dumb and say, "I don't know". They usually forget that they asked within a few minutes and go on about their business.

I need to employ these same tactics with my own stuff more often, especially clothes that I no longer and will not ever wear again.