We’ve been experiencing a major illness in our household. Rather than address the issue with another band-aid, like we’ve been doing, my husband and I went for the emergency surgery option:
Removed the majority of the toys from our house.
Let’s begin with my children’s symptoms:
~ constant complaints of boredom followed by a huff or eye roll when I point out all the wonderful toys they have.
~ begging for new toys every time we go anywhere.
~ constantly fighting over a single toy when there are a bazillion other toys to play with.
~ leaving toys out all over the place to be tripped on, stepped on, kicked around, or lost.
~ complete disregard and blatant disrespect for each others’ toys, space, and feelings.
On Saturday, the situation hemorrhaged:
Scene: Husband and I are browsing through Bed Bath & Beyond with our kids this past weekend. Haley finds a butterfly pillow on clearance and begs for it despite several no’s and a reminder that Christmas is right around the corner.
Finally, I lost my patience:
Me: “If I buy you that silly butterfly pillow, then I am going to give all the rest of your toys away. All of them. Clearly you don’t care about the things you already have. So we’ll give your stuff to kids who don’t have anything.”
Haley: “Okay. Yes. I want you to give my toys away. I really want this pillow. Give them away.”
Me: “Do you really care that little about all your toys? You are willing to give every toy away simply so you can have this silly pillow??”
Sean: “Can I have this remote control car?”
Me: “THAT’S IT! When we get home, all the toys. Gone.”
And so we did… packed up 99% of the toys with the kids’ help and trucked the undervalued treasures off to Salvation Army.
They were left what you see here in this cupboard and their art supplies:
Afterward, as per the deal, Haley got her pillow and Sean got his car. They were given strict warning to not ask for a single thing more until Christmas.
Let me just say, none of this is my children’s fault. My husband and I are quite aware that somehow we missed the mark in parenting. While we’ve done well in teaching our kids how to love others who have very little, from the homeless in our own community to our friends in Africa, we haven’t seemed to teach them, yet, how to value and respect what they have in their own life–including each other. We spoiled our children, giving into their whiny whims too many times. This experience has been an awakening for our entire household.
It seems extreme to take away all their toys, but I feel like in order to parent this “right,” we need to start from scratch and adjust our “material diet”– just like anyone who is revamping their physical health by cutting out all the junk. I am not saying this is the “right” way to go about it, but for us, it feels like the best way to achieve our desired outcome.
We want our kids to become more appreciative of each other, what little they do have, and the gifts they receive at Christmas, birthdays, and other random times of the year.
I want my children to understand that their toys–all the things they have–are special gifts. I wish for their hearts to seek and find joy in all they have and do without the yearning for more, bigger, or better things.
Of course it is okay to want things. We all have a list of things that would be awesome to have–but when the attitude goes from “It’d be nice to have this” to “I must have it because what I have now isn’t good enough,” that’s when our heart is in the wrong spot. For my kids, we felt like their hearts were headed in the wrong direction.
Only time will tell if the lesson has been learned. In the meantime, they are adjusting fairly well. They don’t seem to miss the toys; there has been no mourning, no wishing for the toys back, and no asking for new things.
Haley still complains of boredom but is resolute that it was worth giving up most of her toys for the super soft butterfly pillow. 🙂