Enough

18 Dec

The only parenting book I’ve purchased is this one.  The main premise is that when it comes to raising kids, less is more.  Kids are overwhelmed by too many toys, books, TV, information, etc.  Scale it all back, and kids have an easier time.

For the most part, I’ve found this book to be spot on.  However, I thought the author was nuts to say to keep only about a dozen books out at once for your child.  But even that makes sense to me these days.  Alex keeps going to the same books over and over.  We’ll spend a week devouring The Big Red Barn, Broadway Barks, or I Want to Be an Astronaut.  Over and over and over.  Then he eventually moves on to another few books.

But somehow, we let the toys creep in.  And in and in and in.  Over the summer we noticed that all Alex wanted to do was color.  At first, we thought it was the excitement of his new craft table, but the tantrums ramped up at the same time.  Finally, we figured out that he was overwhelmed by the sheer number of toys.  He had three baskets/boxes of toys in the living room alone, and they were overflowing.  Finding a toy meant digging through the mess, and he just couldn’t handle it.  So he abandoned his toys, and only wanted to color and watch TV.

We culled through the toys, got rid of a few, boxed up a few others to take out at a later date.   It worked.  Alex started playing with his toys again, and the tantrums lessened.

We find ourselves somehow back in the same situation.  Too many toys, too many choices.  And Christmas is coming very, very soon.

See these toys below?

P1060351 P1060429

My little guy is obsessed with trains right now.   Those are the only two he owns, and he loves them.  They’re in constant play, and that little plastic Thomas the Tank Engine is his bed buddy every night and during naps.  While he loves playing with the (better) Thomas trains in the church nursery, truth is, he’d be perfectly happy with just these 2 trains.  He doesn’t know that he’s supposed to want more, at least, according to our culture.

(At this point, I should probably mention that he’s not only getting Thomas trains and tracks for Christmas, but also a Thomas train table.  Grandparents are awesome!)

We came home from Thanksgiving in Texas with a ton of new toys from my husband’s side of the family.  We bought toys while we were in Dallas for Christmas.  And the toys from my side of the family have arrived.   I’m finding myself wondering where we’re going to put everything!  More than that, I’m questioning whether or not we should even give Alex the gifts we bought for him.  For example, we bought him a set of cars and one of those rugs with car tracks on it.  But in light of all the trains, I’m not sure the car stuff will be played with.  I have a strong suspicion our boy will be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff coming his way.

This is the sort of parenting dilemma I never anticipated.

We culled through the toys again last night, and we need to weed out a few more.  I’m trying to take to heart what Simplicity Parenting says about toys.  Our culture, and frankly our parental desires to give our kids things that will make them happy, say that if a kid likes his toy car, then he’ll love a dozen of them.  But instead of loving his one or two cars, he’s overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cars and won’t care much about any of them.

Alex loves Veggie Tales, and his stuffed Bob the Tomato is his best buddy.  Bob goes almost everywhere with us.  We considered buying him Larry the Cucumber to go with his Bob, but then decided against it.  We’d rather have him love Bob, instead of having to divide his attention/affection between the two.  We’ve seen a hierarchy of preference among his stuffed animals, and frankly, he just doesn’t need to add to it.

He has enough.

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3 Responses to “Enough”

  1. Becky December 18, 2013 at 3:21 PM #

    I read that book, too, and really enjoyed it! We have the same problems with the seemingly endless influx of toys. Last year, we found ourselves where you are now – so many toys from relatives that the toys from Mom and Dad seemed pointless! This year we only bought our kids ONE toy each. A small part of me feels guilty, but I know I will be so glad once the toys start piling up from relatives 🙂

    One thing that’s been a huge blessing for me in the toy department is that my brother just had his first baby and they haven’t been buying toys, just asking for my hand-me-downs. It makes it so much easier to cull out toys when they are going to my nephew!

  2. carrie December 18, 2013 at 6:36 PM #

    I’d never heard of that book, but it sounds intriguing. I have rotated toys for years, but I’m feeling like you are with the impending new onslaught headed our way!

    • Anne Marie @ The Oklahoma Texan December 18, 2013 at 10:49 PM #

      Carrie, it’s not Christian in nature, so it’s not a book that will help with developing character or faith, but it’s more psychological. The author worked with kids in refugee camps, then with more well-to-do kids in England. The first world kids were experience post traumatic stress disorder as much as the kids from refugee camps. He realized they were overwhelmed by the things of our culture. One kid couldn’t function because her room was completely crammed full of toys and costumes. Another had problems because his parents had crazy work schedules and he never knew who was picking him up from school or what was happening. Yet another developed PTSD symptoms from knowing too much of the news of the world years before his brain was ready to handle that sort of information. It’s a fascinating read, and it’s really helped shape how I parent. I’ve seen how calm and relaxed and tantrum-free Alex becomes when we remove the excess from his little life.

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