Today is June 1st and yesterday we purged the house of toys to start our summer off right, with the Toy Free Summer Challenge.
Now, to be fair, this is not as much of a stretch for us as it would be for most families. We don’t have many to pull out. We have a huge chest of dress up cloths, both genders, that are all very creative and the kids play pretend constantly with. Three trashbags full that are now in the attic. We had two trashbags of animals which are mostly horses and zoo/wildlife/farm animals or puppets. The last trashbag was a conglomerate of trucks, trains, baby dolls, matchbox cars and miscellaneous toys. I took away their gazillions of “special” blankets and sleeping bags that end up everywhere. This sounds like a lot to me, but I know that it’s not for a typical family of 4. We’re already very minimalistic.
For electronics, all leapsters, speak and spell and electronic dictionary( all rarely touched anyway) are in a box in my closet. We canceled Netflix and unplugged the Wii to be used only when we all agree that we should play together one of the 3-4 games we have on it.
So, it doesn’t really sound like we did much. Hmmm… On this screen it looks pretty ho-hum. But I should share that I also took away a good bit of their clothes. With 4 children in one room, drawer and closet space is as tight as last year’s swimsuit when I reintroduced it to my thighs a few weeks ago. Something had to give….I bought a new suit, by the way.
The girls are in a “we love dresses” phase. Cool. I can go with that. So I left them each one pair of shorts and one pair of jeans. Selah has 3 skirts and tops but other than that….Dresses they have. One lovely piece of clothing that can be worn anywhere. It doesn’t have to be matched to another piece that’s disappeared into thin air and causes us all to be late to something. It’s one piece. Perfection.
The boys were a little different. But they each had several pairs of cut offs and shorts that they still love to wear but look painfully tight to me. I mean, why would these little guys want to suck in to button their bottoms? Their mother has to do that often enough and hates it! For some reason anything that is loose gets rejected as too big to wear, especially by Lucas, my guy with SPD. So they tried on every. single. pair and we discussed how shorts SHOULD fit and which we could agree on keeping. So now, between the boys and girls I have 3 trashbags of clothes to go to two dear friends who can use them. We can appreciate them on their children when we see them.
I also broke down and went through my own clothomg. Admitting that I’m not going to lose enough to fit into half of them is a bummer, especially if I’m not actively *trying* like my doctors want me to be… I mean, I’d love to! If they want to come babysit my children…. Oh wait, no volunteers? That’s what I thought… I’ll work on it..for realz. Just have to get life to a routine and consistency that flows. The stress is just as bad for my health as the 60lbs is. I promise.
Here is what we kept:
The Castle (which I’m still debating about putting up)
Bikes and Scateboards
Board and card games
Books, Books and more Books
Each child got to choose one extra thing to keep. Selah wanted her camera. Jake wanted his microscope. Lucas asked for puzzles, Irie wanted two American Girl Dolls who would be devastated to be separated from each other. I agreed on the second doll, but only with the outfits they were actually wearing. NO extra doll clothes!
So, the big question is… What will they play with all summer?
I can’t tell you how many facebook statuses I’ve seen, bemoaning the summer with the kids, or stating that mom is already counting down the days until they go back to school. As a homeschooler, I know that I’m already used to having my kids with me all of the time. I guess I assumed that traditional-schooling parents would crave that time with their kids? Look forward to it? I know that many of you do. But I’m also aware that if your kids are at school all day, they’re used to being told what to do all day long and constant activity.
Here are a few ideas on how you can facilitate your child’s re-connection with self directed play without taking their self out of it:
Don’t listen when they say they’re bored. Really, don’t. It’s not your responsibility. You don’t need to entertain them. You don’t need to fix it. Just be quiet. More on the “B” word later.
Offer suggestions when you see them looking, not when their whining. Help them along the way when they ARE along the way of thinking and trying, not when they’re moping and down. Look for their efforts and meet them. It’s like a donation-match from the company for that 5k you ran. You get the idea. Don’t fix it for them. Just be there with them.
Lead by example. get off your own bumm and do something! You can’t sit on the phone, text all day or play FB games and send them outside. Plant something. build, bake, create…JUST DO IT!
Admit when you’re bored, too. Relate. Show them that boredom is ok. It’s a part of life. But if you’re going to be bored go do it on a quilt basking in the sun and staring at the clouds moving by, not staring at the 4 walls around you or this computer screen.
Because, believe it or not, 8 children CAN be entertained by one shovel and a large rock in the back yard.
Today, while they play without toys, I’ve been going through books and my craft/sewing stuff. I suppose Mama should get rid of some toys, too. We’re in this together.