Animal house

July 31, 2012

My sweet daughter approached me one morning as I folded laundry.  “Mama…could you please help me sort through my stuffed animals today?  They’re getting a bit out of control.”  I told her of course, I’d be up as soon as I finished what I was doing; while inside I was doing cartwheels about the fact that she made the decision on her own.  No nudging or suggestions from me required.

I’d been watching her pile of animals grow.  They have an assigned spot to “live,” in an old cradle that my mother slept in (and my daughter, too, for a while), and for months–years, really–that cradle has been perfectly sufficient.  Slowly, though, my little one was making “nests” throughout her room for the overflow.  There was a little nest in the less-than-a-foot of space between her chest of drawers and the wall.  There was a nest  between her bedside table and desk.  A tiny nest in a child’s chair.  Each made up carefully with a blanket for the assorted “guests” that would live in that spot.  She had commented a few times on how many nests there were, and apparently she’d finally crossed some sort of line, because she was done.

I took a suggestion from Simplicity Parenting and made three piles:  keep, put away, and give away.  I don’t tend to like the idea of a “put away” pile; I hate the fact that we have toys in storage when some kids have no toys at all….but I also knew that there were so many animals it made sense to not keep everything out.  She sat in her desk chair while I held up each animal (no touching!  Many thanks to Sort It Canada for THAT epiphany) and she pronounced its fate.

As I suspected, the “give away” pile was small.  The “put away” pile, however, was huge.  I was completely unprepared for the amount of animals that my daughter was willing to give up temporarily, some of which I thought of as very important to her.  I was incredibly glad I’d let her make the decisions, because she was much more thorough than I would have been.

That night she went to bed with three animals in her bed.  Every other animal fit in the cradle; all the nests were put away, chairs were now chairs and the floor was back to being a floor.  She kept telling me how much better she felt, how much better the room looked, how nice it was to have everything where it belonged.  We’ve agreed that six months is a good time for a swap:  to pull out the old and put away the current.

I think, though, that I might ask her what animals she wants to retrieve, instead of just dumping out the bucket….I have a suspicion she wouldn’t miss some of those critters if they were gone.

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6 Responses to “Animal house”


  1. We’ve had a similar experience in our house this week, only it was my son and his toy cars. He’s at the stage where he has almost outgrown them and he suggested that his younger cousin may get more benefit from them. I can’t tell you how surprised I was as this is the boy that NEVER gets rid of anything!

    • jenfletcher Says:

      It must be a boy thing…if my SON had asked to go thru something, I probably would have fainted. 🙂 My daughter tends to be kind of “fixy” about things; she wants things “just right,” and a mess aggravates her more quickly.

  2. Sort It Says:

    Thanks for the shout out 🙂 I would suggest doing a “purge” every 6 months or so. When you bring out the old stuffies, ask her if she wants to go through them again. Often times, when things are out of sight, they are out of mind. She may feel less attached to the “put away” items, and more comfortable parting with (some of) them. It’s a process. I’m sure you can relate, right? Sometimes, we’re just not ready to let something go. But as we get back to it 6 months later, and we haven’t even touched it, it’s easier to part with. Keep us posted! 🙂

    • jenfletcher Says:

      I think the next round might be harder, only because I suspect that some of the stuff she kept out this time will NOT turn into “put away” stuff. The bin will be easy enough to go through (definitely out of sight, out of mind), but the things she elected to keep out are probably going to be really hard to “put away.” We’ll see….that’s a long time away!

  3. Camhy Says:

    I did the same with my daughter several years ago, and we put a huge garbage bag of animals in our storage room. She never did take any out again, although she wasn’t ready to donate to anyone else either. She’ll be a high school senior this year. I bet she could pick only select ones to keep for old times sake by now and pass the rest along.

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