Shakespeare and cleaning up our toys

June 6, 2007

Am feeling a little slow today – did 14 miles yesterday, which wouldn’t have been so bad but for the hills (several long ones) and the constant headwind. What is it about the wind? Why is it always blowing in my face, no matter which direction I’m going? A mystery for sure. I’m probably going to keep this distance for awhile, and ease off to every-other-day rather than daily. I want to work up to 25 miles, which is the shortest countryside route published by the local cycling club. This will also let the two of us ride on alternate days.

Shakespeare begins with A Comedy of Errors. I read the lengthy introductory material and the first scene or two before falling asleep, still wiped by the ride. Then the baby was up several times starting around 3AM. Blah, but this too shall pass.

Apropos of nothing, let me share a tip regarding kids and getting them to clean up their toys.

Our last house was pretty small, considering the number of people in it. Had we stayed, there would have been six children sharing two bedrooms, then the two of us in the MBR upstairs. We had no basement or bonus room, and the main living area downstairs did double-duty as the play-room. Storage space was always at a premium, despite having broken through into the attic and acquiring a shed for the backyard. We made do by having less stuff, though it was a constant battle, especially as regards toys. Our schooling room was a small loft-sitting area off the MBR that looked out into the family room below. Our belief is that the kids should be taught to put a toy back as soon as they are old enough to pull it out of place – in most cases, this means “back into the basket” or onto a shelf. It turns into sort of a game with the littlest ones, and they usually join right in.

When they get a bit older, resistance to clean up starts to set in a little. It’s not much of a game any more, and there are things that they’d rather be doing. They start to realize the scale of the cleanup, that it’s much easier to dump out a basket of 5,000 little things than it is to gather them all up and put them away. We have reached the syndrome known in our household as “TMS”, or in a polite variant suitable for a family blog, “Too Much Stuff”. Cleanup, even at it’s worst should take no more than around 15-20 minutes, so when TMS has been achieved, we fetch 2 things: an egg timer and a garbage bag. The timer is set to a reasonable amount of time. When it goes off, everything left on the floor is bagged and tossed.

Yes, it blows their little minds.

In full honesty, we’ve had to bend a little with this rule, especially if the smallest ones have pulled out the belongings of their older siblings and left them all over the house. Likewise, if they’ve left out toys that we really really don’t want to pitch (the nice set of hardwood blocks, for example). In those cases, we sort through the bag before discarding the rest. We do similar purges before gifty-type holidays such as birthdays and Christmas. After bedtime, we’ll sort through the hoard for donation candidates and send a great lot of it off to the local Goodwill or Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Mostly it works. The mere appearance of a hefty bag is usually enough to spur immediate action, and when it doesn’t, well, at least there’s less crapola in the house.


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