Ever notice how many little toys young children collect?
My 4-year-old has Polly Pockets dolls and accessories that are threatening to take over the house.
My 2-year-old has Fisher Price Little People sets that, combined, rival the size and population of small towns.
I am slowly being pushed out of my house by toys.
I’m not quite sure how this happened.
As a new mother, I implored well-meaning grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends to restrain themselves when buying gifts for my new baby. It’s not that I didn’t want my child to have toys, we just didn’t have the space to accommodate much more than what we used on a daily basis.
Then my son was born. Baby #2 brought with him a more relaxed mommy attitude…in every way. And I guess I forgot to mention (or stopped caring) about how my kids don’t need much. They occupy themselves better using only their imaginations and not all those fancy toys that I think suck the imagination right out of play time. We’re also in a bigger house now and can, to some degree, accommodate the excess stuff.
And so, four years into this parenting gig, I’m drowning in toys. And the older my kids get, the smaller the toys get.
It seems like I am forever stepping on little parts of a Polly Pocket doll or the gazillion dinky cars that litter our house. And my kids are generally good at cleaning up after themselves (with coaxing from me). But there’s so much. And it seems like there is always more, even after the cleaning up is done.
I’m not sure when it happened, but my children elected me the keeper of “stuff”. So when something goes missing, I’m the first one they come to…as if I had been the one playing with the missing item and forgot to put it back where they left it.
The other night, I was serving dinner and my daughter asked me, “Mommy, can you hang onto this rock* so Luke doesn’t get it? And make sure you take care of my Polly car so Luke doesn’t get it and I can play with it later.”
I looked down into her beautiful blue eyes and replied, “I’m responsible for you my little one, not all the stuff you accumulate. Your stuff is your responsibility.”
It was, by far, the most liberating phrase I have uttered since becoming a mother.
I stopped stressing over the “stuff”. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much stress the “stuff” was causing me.
The rest of my week picked up from there.
And my daughter takes her responsibilities very seriously.
After all, it is her “stuff”.
*Rocks are a big part of the “stuff” collection in our house. Life comes full circle my mother always says. I picked up every rock that caught my eye as a child. I’m sure I drove my parents nuts.