Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lessons (and accomplishments) in moving!!

I'd like to show you a picture of one of my most amazing parenting achievements:

Sorry, this isn't meant to be an ad for IKEA, but...

If you've been following this blog, you may know why this is so amazing. It's that this is the first time ever -- since I've had these two kids -- that their toys have been organized and sorted with a place for everything and everything in its place. (To show you what my usual M.O. is like, have a look at the pictures here and here.)

Since I'm not a fan of consumer culture, I really hesitate to post a picture of how many toys my kids have. However, part of my motivation for organizing the toys was to cut back on new toy purchases. At our old apartment, we only had room for a few large toy-boxes where all of the toys got tossed in and jumbled together. That made it impossible to play with any set that includes small parts, and larger toys even got sort of buried and lost. So the kids would constantly ask for new toys, which would be played with for a while (but would eventually get put away in the grand toy black hole and be forgotten).

As I'd predicted, merely getting out all the old toys and sorting them was like giving our kids a whole roomful of new toys. They immediately started playing with a bunch of old toys -- some of which they hadn't played with in years -- including some unexpected choices. Here are some that they rescued from my "put away in the basement" box:

These are some baby dolls that I'd bought for Nico when he was a toddler (to use to explain that he would soon have a baby brother).

One interesting point was to see what my two boys would decide about the dolls' gender. All three dolls were bald and naked (but not anatomically correct), so none of them had a built-in gender. I gave my kids all of the dolls' outfits -- one of which was pink. Here's what they decided:

The larger doll is a girl, and the two smaller dolls (who are identical except for their eye color) are boys. The girl is named "Incredible" and the two boys are "Jack-Jack" and "Mimi." (They were obviously influenced by the film The Incredibles, though I'm not sure where they got the name "Mimi" from.)

As I watched them play, the interesting -- and surprising -- thing was the total absence of gender stereotypes (aside from the idea that pink is for girls, see our history on that topic here and here). Instead, they mostly played school with the dolls. Nico explained that since Incredible is a year older than her two little brothers, she's learning more advanced science than the other two. He gave the two little boys a geography lesson (from the world map in the picture above) and taught Incredible about the Solar System from the other poster.

At bedtime, Nico decided to choose Incredible and Jack-Jack as his "bed-night buddies" (my kids' term for whichever toys they've decided to take to bed with them).

After dropping the kids off at school this morning, I came back and decided to take a picture of the dolls (for this post), but I couldn't find them. Eventually I discovered that Nico had spontaneously put them away in their bin! Without being told to do so!

Yes -- another parenting triumph!! I don't know why I kept thinking I'm a bad mom...


groovesocket said...

Being OCD, your new play room is heaven in my eyes. I love organization. Jennifer is the exact opposite. Fletch is only 6 months old so he isn't mobile yet, but I haven't yet decided my 'proofing' strategy - baby proof the house or house proof the baby. I'll play it by ear and figure it out as he grows up.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Shock!!!

In my experience, whether to "baby proof the house or house proof the baby" depends on the temperament of both the parents and the baby. If your baby can be house-proofed, that's convenient, but the idea that any baby can be "house-proofed" is a myth (and in my kids' case an exercise in futility).

I'm glad to finally be at the point where I can organize my kids' things, but remember that it took us six years to get to this point. ;^)

If you and Jennifer have very different styles -- and especially if the less organization-focused person is going to be the primary care-giver -- I'd highly recommend setting aside a baby-proofed room that is allowed to be in a perpetual state of disarray (even if the rest of the house is organized). At least until the kids are mature enough to learn about putting away their own things.

gburnett said...

Hey C.L.!

LOVE the organization! I and the wifey are both organizationally challenged and this could work well for us. Those are all available at Ikea? We may have to take a trip up to Minny. We are using pullout drawers and big buckets, but we still suffer from the "black hole" phenomenon.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Dodge Center, MN

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Greg!!!

Yes, this system of shelves and bins is available at IKEA -- and is pretty convenient for organizing toys!

Anonymous said...

That looks great, and I'm very impressed. As usual, your boys crack me up with their awesome imaginations, too. :-)

- wry

Melisma said...

The room looks great. Is that just a play room, or do they have their beds in the same space?

Personally, I find RE-organization frees up the creative imaginations of my two boys. Move stuff to the basement, which is a free ticket for my kids to bring something up. Dump their collection of interesting junk out on the table and force them to sift through it to make sure it is still of use. Dump legos out on a sheet, then pick up the four corners when it is time for cleanup. Now my kids' stories have chapters/levels/episodes, and they beg to leave things in chaos for days at a time. We negotiate when the vacuum cleaner really must have a moment with the floor space.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Wry!!!

Hey Melisma!!!

That's the bedroom. I should have included a picture of the other side of the room with the beds, dressers, and the castle pieces that I arranged on the windowsill.

I completely agree about it sparking their imagination when you periodically retire the toys that aren't getting much play and then bring them back again.