ministones

The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good tidings to you and all of your toys

It's that time of year again and right on schedule, I've become a crazy person.

No, it's not the prospect of holiday shopping that's getting to me or the family logistics or the cooking or the wrapping, though now that I'm actually think about all of those things, most of them will probably make me crazy before the year is through, too. But for now, I'm completely preoccupied with the thought of where I'm going to put the avalanche of gifts after the holiday season is over.

The triple whammy of Chanukah/Christmas/birthdays which assaults us each winter, while a windfall of molded plastic delights for my children, is a veritable nightmare from an organizational perspective. The house, it is only so big. The toy shelves, they only hold so much. And they are already very, very full. So where to put the very thoughtful whatchamacallits and the not-so-thoughtful boxes full of itty-bitty pieces and the what-were-they-thinking-but-oh-boy-do-the-kids-love-it items which will arrive by the boatload in the next several months from well meaning friends and family?

Last year when the reality of what was coming sparked this same kind of hysteria, I frantically rearranged my family room, and in the process of doing so, I thought I'd completely given myself over to the Fisher Price Gods. A year later, with that room full to overflowing with last year's bounty, I'm forced to come to grips with the fact that my family room was in actuality only the earliest sacrifice we would make to the toy gods. The toys have, in reality, only just begun in their quest to take over my entire home.

Ever the optimist, I enter each holiday season with a great game plan to stem the spread of stuff. This year, I've turned my attention to our basement where, I reason, not only can we can store an infinite number of toys, but I will rarely if ever actually have to look at them. When we bought this house, one of the selling points was our giant finished basement, which was lined with shelving and filled with the toys of the two preschool girls who lived here before us. "What great play space," we said when we saw it. But we had no children for our first few years here, and despite the fact that we expected them soon, we were possessed with an unprecedented lack of foresight where play space was concerned. The shelves in that huge room came down and in came the pool table and the stereo system and the poker table and the beer fridge and in the end, we'd built ourselves a great playroom all right, but not one for children. What I'm left with for my kids down there is a much smaller room which we used to use as an exercise room. (Ha! Good riddance to you, evil Nordic Trak!) It will be an adequate, albeit small, playroom for Julia and a playdate or two to escape to on their own, but only if the toys do not take up valuable floor space. And thusly began our weekend quest to fill the closet in that room with kid-friendly shelves.

If Paul isn't ready to divorce me after this past weekend, he's clearly in this for life. He went to Home Depot no less than 6 times on Saturday and Sunday, in part to scope out shelving suggestions and in part, I suspect, to escape my lunatic "you must get this done YESTERDAY" rantings here at home. I had a vision of how I wanted the shelves to look. He had a completely different vision. In the end, we compromised, and we now have a closet full of shelves that neither of us love but neither of us hate (and most importantly, neither of us caved on). There is still work to be done to get the room ready for children to play in it, but thanks to my single-minded obsession and my husband's hard work, we now at least have a place to put the toys. Hallelujah. Or so I thought.

"Where in this house is MY stuff supposed to go," Paul grumbled as I piled up all of the sports equipment that used to live in that closet and sent him off to find a new home for it. "Don't be silly," I told him cheerfully as I began to place baskets of toys on our new shelves. "There are only two rooms besides the kids' bedrooms with toys in them. The rest of the house is still ours." But then I stood back and I looked carefully at the closet. I'd just put a few things we already owned on the shelves, and already they were about 1/4 full. I mentally started calculating exactly how much space I was going to need for the spoils of a 35-child birthday party. And as I carefully dusted off the remaining shelf space that I would be saving for those gifts, I silently acknowledged the sad truth. Come next year, I will almost certainly need to expand and find a new target for my pre-holiday hysteria yet again. Yesterday, the family room, tomorrow the basement. And next year? I have no idea. A modest addition, perhaps?

7 Comments:

At 6:14 PM, Blogger chichimama said...

There are some lovely homes out there for a low low price of....with finished basements AND a third floor playroom. I know a real estate agent who is down a client for the moment...

 
At 2:35 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

Um, Rebecca? Have you thought of throwing anything away?? One of my most pleasurable experiences is the annual pre-birthday/holiday purge of toys. You really ought to try it...

 
At 8:47 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Oh, I go through this every fall. But this year, we threw so much out, gave stuff away, and yay, got about $70 for stuff I sold to Once Upon a Child. This fall, my mom helped and I'll never forget her stuffing a garbage bag full of old, mildewing stuffed animals into our van and hearing "Tickle Me Elmo" exclaim - "This is FUN!" Oh, if Elmo only knew he was on his way to the big toy yard in the sky. . . .

 
At 8:48 PM, Blogger Dana said...

ps - I feel your pain.

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Steph said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger Steph said...

Sorry for the second comment...commenting issues going on...or Internet connection issues, or something. Anyways...

Again, you spoke what I was thinking. I was just gathering thoughts in my head for my post about the impending influx of toys between M's birthday and Chanukah and Christmas two weeks later.

Despite finishing our basement two years ago to include a big playroom, our family room which was supposed to be the "adult" room, is still overrun with toys. And, we've got the boxes of toys that are out of rotation too.

The packrat in me just won't let them go...

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger Rosemary said...

I'm with Dana. I think there is an awful lot to be said for giving toys away -- maybe even while they are still new. I have 7 siblings, my husband 3. My kids just had way more stuff than they needed. A part of Christmas morning every year was the kids decidig which presents they would like to "share" with the children of unwed (aka poor) mothers through Catholic Social Services. That's a charity for which I've always had a soft spot... :-)

 

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