Why I Embrace the Toy Clutter

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*OR* Confessions of a Minimalist in a Sea of Toys

This weekend I organized and purged the boys’ toys. They “helped” with the process and we worked through discarding broken toys and selecting books and toys they have outgrown to pass on to others. 

I came to a realization whist we were organizing: I have let toys take over our home. This was followed by an even more startling realization: I don’t mind it. Let me explain.

I tend to strive for a simple, minimalist lifestyle. I don’t have many wants and value experiences above things. I’m frugal and thrifty and wait for sales.  I think that’s why I was so shocked to realize how much of a toy and book enabler I am for the kids. I think a lot of it stems from infertility. For years the deepest desire of my heart was to have a home filled with the laughter of little ones. And for six years I waited with empty arms. Every baby shower and pregnancy announcement left me weeping bitter tears. The toy and book clutter is literally the fulfillment of my dream. I see a toy strewn living room and my heart swells with happiness. It’s completely crazy but it’s true.

I don’t want the boys to grow up entitled or spoiled so I do restrain myself a great deal. We purge as needed and make an effort to only keep things which are useful and loved. But, I don’t find myself irritated by what they do have the way I thought I would (or even the way my husband is). I often hear people say “I don’t want toys to take over my home” or read blog posts “How I keep the Kids’ Toys in Their Space.” This is SO not my home. It is lived in. The minute someone enters our home it is obvious we have small children. One of the dominant features in our living area is a cube storage unit with toys. “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are” have replaced my history books on the shelves. And, truth be told, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The time we have with small children is so fleeting. Someday the toys will be gone, the books will all be mine, and nobody will dump bins of stuff from one end of the house to the other. And I will miss the mess. I will miss their littleness, their playfulness, the scent of baby shampoo on their still wet heads. One day they will leave me.

And this is how it ought to be. That is, of course, the goal of child rearing. But, for now, I choose to enjoy their childhood and embrace the toy clutter, the sounds of lightsaber battles, and their precious little hands holding mine. I hold tightly to bedtime stories, Lego creations, and playing Star Wars for the hundredth time today. I discuss which Octonaut is my favorite with the seriousness I once reserved for foreign policy discussions. The time will come when I no longer have a home cluttered by toys. But, for today, I say “God bless this mess.”

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