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.